Nearly nine years ago, I made this view of an Irish Rail spoil train passing my familiar location at Islandbridge Junction.
The sun was low in the sky, which can make for nice light, but rapidly moving clouds rolling across the sky made for difficult lighting conditions. The exposure would vary by as much as two stops from one moment to the next.
Further complicating matters I gauged the exposure incorrectly and this resulted in a fairly dark slide. Sometimes, rich Novmeber sunshine isn’t as bright as it looks.
Lastly, the processing was substandard. Overall this batch of slides suffered from inadequate detail in the shadow areas and a strong red-magenta colour-cast, giving this image an unnatural appearance.
The other day I decided to see what I could do to improve this image. You might ask, “Why? Don’t you have plenty of railway photos from the this place?”
I do. Hundreds. But Irish Rail spoil trains are some of the most elusive moves on the network. Also, the equipment is this scene has all been withdrawn. The class 141 diesels no longer work on Irish Rail—although several have been preserved—and the old four-wheel spoil wagons were replaced with modern bogie wagons several years ago.
The scene itself has changed as the old Clancy Barracks to the left of the train has been developed and the area looks quite different today.
Using Lightroom, I implemented a variety of digital changes to a Hi-Res scan, which ultimately produced a far more realistic image. Below are a sequence of images that show what I’ve done.
At Oulu, Finland, the sun hangs in the northwestern sky until after 11pm. For a visitor from more southerly regions this late light is fascinating.
My host Markku Pulkkinen showed me this foot bridge over the main railway yard and I made a series of photographs with my FujiFilm XT-1. This image was tricky.
A Swiss-designed class Sr2 electric was preparing to head south with an overnight freight. I found an alignment to capture this train departing against the backdrop of the low sun. My difficulty was in selecting the right exposure.
If it was light enough to capture the details of the locomotive than the sky would have been blasted (over exposed), yet if I exposed to retain color and detail in the sky, than the railway yard and locomotive would have been virtually opaque.
Ultimately, I made several exposures using my camera’s histogram to guide me. I avoided clipping the highlights, while allowing the shadow regions to slip to the lower end of the graph.
After the fact, I used Lightroom (recently installed on my new MacBook) to adjust the highlight and shadow areas to hold detail, while pumping up the saturation a little.
I’ll admit the end result looks a bit surreal. But then again, I found the whole setting surreal from the get go!
I processed the file and made my adjustments while riding on the upper level of a VR train heading toward Kontiomäki.