Tag Archives: #working with RAW

CSX-West Warren Waterfall.

Exposed with a FujiFilm XT-1 with 27mm pancake lens. RAW file adjusted using Lightroom to create a Jpg for digital presentation. Photo at West Warren, Massachusetts along the former Boston & Albany route.

 

 Last Tuesday, June 25, 2019, I’d photographed an eastward CSX intermodal train at Palmer, Massachusetts that took the controlled siding at CP83 and then eased up to the east end of the siding at CP79.
 
I took a chance and drove expeditiously to West Warren in anticipation of a westward freight. I was rewarded for my efforts.
 
The lighting was tricky but colorful. The sunrise was heavily tempered by clouds rolling in from the west.
 
To make the most of the contrasty scene, I used a Lee graduated neutral density filter over the front of my lens to reduce exposure in the sky, and then underexposed the entire scene by about two thirds of a stop. I used the in-camera histogram to gauge my exposure by aiming to obtain minimal loss of detail in highlight and shadow areas. To the eye, my RAW files seem a little dark, but this is by intent.
 
In post processing, I lightened shadow areas while controlling highlights in an effort to replicate scene as I saw it.
 
Such are the challenges with modern photography. With black and white film, I would have exposed for the shadows and printed for the highlights, but that technique won’t work with digital photography. Where black & white film could hold great detail in dense highlights, but suffered from thin and detail-less shadow regions, digital sensors have the opposite sensitivity range.
 
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New England Central 608 at Stafford Springs, Connecticut: Part 1.


In recent months, New England Central’s Willimantic-Palmer freight, job 608, has been largely nocturnal while the railroad undertook a major rehabilitation program.

New rail, ties and crossing protection have been installed. The switches at State Line are improved. And the railroad is in the best shape it’s been in decades.

Monday morning, December 10, 2018, I heard 608 working north through Monson.

That afternoon, I heard the train on its return run. So Pop (Richard J. Solomon) and I headed out to intercept it.

We caught it at both ends of the siding at State Line, then proceeded to Stafford Springs, where I made these views using my FujiFilm XT1 fitted with 12mm Zeiss Touit lens.

High contrast low December sun proved challenging. To make the most of the light, I applied an external graduated neutral density filter tapered and positioned to hold the sky exposure.

Compare the camera produced JPG file with adjusted RAW images. (There is no ‘right’ and ‘wrong’. The JPG reflects a ‘pre-profiled’ camera setting based on Fuji’s Velvia color setting. The RAW’s were adjusted by me to reflect conditions at Stafford Springs.)

In post processing, I worked with camera RAW files by lightened shadows, darkened highlights, and reduced overall contrast while warming color temperature and slightly boosting saturation.

Camera produced JPG using the ‘Velvia’ color profile. Other than scaling, this image was not modified in post processing; color, contrast etc are a result of the pre-profiled JPG setting.

This version was adjusted from the Fuji RAW file and reflects the changes discussed in the text.


File adjusted from the camera RAW.

As we departed Stafford, I noticed a better angle to catch the train. Stay tuned!

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Inky Gloom at Wilmington, Delaware.

Last night a damp inky gloom greeted us as we alighted from Amtrak’s Vermonter at the former Pennsylvania Railroad station at Wilmington, Delaware.

A SEPTA Silverliner V electric multiple unit set sat on the opposite platforms waiting to depart for Philadelphia.

I made several exposures with my Lumix LX7. Working with the RAW files in Lightroom, I maximize the amount of visual information in the photos by lightening shadows and darkening highlights while adjusting contrast and color saturation.

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Six Years Ago Today; Ireland’s Bord na Mona near Edenderry on 3 November 2012.

On this day six years ago, Denis McCabe and I were on an exploration of Ireland’s narrow gauge Bord na Mona (Peat Board) operations radiating from the Edenderry generating station located near the village of Clonbullogue, Co. Offaly, when we discovered this view from overhead bridge over the double track narrow gauge line.

I exposed my photo using a Canon EOS7D with 200mm prime lens. Nominal overexposure resulted in a slightly washed out image.

Six years after the fact, I worked with the RAW File in Lightroom, to bring back some of the sky detail not apparent in the camera-produced Jpg, while aiming to improve colour saturation and colour balance.

This is a scaled version of the camera JPG. Notice the washed out sky and low colour saturation.

Working with the camera RAW file, I brought back highlight detail while improving overall colour balance and saturation to more closely resemble the original scene.

See: Gallery 8: Irish Bog Railways—Part 1

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Irish Rail 071 Leads the Grand Hibernian—Variations on a Theme.

I’ve been unusually fortunate to catch Irish Rail’s 071 almost everyday for the last couple of weeks.

This locomotive is the class leader and features a heritage livery based on the as-delivered General Motors scheme.

It is very popular with photographers.

On Saturday 22 September 2018, locomotive 071 worked the Belmond Grand Hibernian cruise train from Dublin Heuston to Connolly Station. Until yesterday, it had been assigned to the Dublin-Ballina IWT Liner container train.

To make this view, I used my FujiFilm XT1 fitted with a Zeiss Touit 12mm lens. To help bring in sky detail, I attached a Lee 0.9 graduated neutral density filter (a physical filter), then made further adjustment to RAW files in post processing using a digitally applied graduated neutral density filter, which allowed me to make adjustments to highlight and shadow detail.

Additional adjustments were made globally (the entire image) to modify contrast and colour saturation to improve the appearance of the photograph.

Compare these images with my earlier post: Irish Rail 071 in Retro Orange and Lessons in Exposing for RAW Adjustment 

A view from Dublin’s Conyngham Road above the south portal of the Phoenix Park Tunnel on the branch that runs from Islandbridge Junction toward Connolly Station.

Thanks to Paul Maguire for lending me an SD card! (I’d left mine in the computer, and the spare on my desk, and the second spare in my other bag! Poor show on my part.)

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Connecticut River Crossing—Contrast Adjustment.

Last week I exposed this view of New England Central 611 (Brattleboro to Palmer) crossing the Connecticut River at East Northfield, Massachusetts.

New England Central 611 crosses the Connecticut River at East Northfields, Massachusetts. Exposed with a Fuji Film XT1.

To compensate for the back lit high-contrast scene, I made a few necessary adjustments in post processing.

Working with the Camera RAW file, I applied a digital graduated filter across the sky and locally lowered highlight density, while altering the contrast curve and boosting saturation.

I then made global adjustment to contrast and saturation across the entire image, while brightening the shadow areas. The intent was to better hold detail in the sky.

To make this possible, it was necessary to expose for the sky, and allow the train and bridge to become comparatively dark. I did this knowing I’d make adjustments after the exposure.

For more detail on this photographic technique see: Irish Rail 085 with Ballast Train at Sunset—lessons in exposure and contrast adjustment. 

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Sunset on the Boston & Albany at East Brookfield—Working with RAW Files.

Yesterday evening I was visiting East Brookfield, Massachusetts.

As the sun neared the western horizon it illuminated some clouds from below, the effect that I call ‘drop under’.

It’s a stunning natural phenomena, but can be difficult to capture effectively because of the extreme contrast.

Armed with my Lumix LX7, I made my way to the overpass near the old station location, as per the suggestion of Dennis LeBeau— photographer, musician and long time East Brookfieldian.

As I made a series of exposures, I knew by observing the camera’s histogram that it would be necessary to work with the RAW files to produce the most effective interpretations of the scene.

Below are some examples for your inspection and consideration.

This is the unmodified file. The only change from camera RAW was a necessary scaling and conversion to JPG for internet presentation (the RAW is too large to upload). I made no changes to color saturation, contrast, or other elements of the image.
This is the unmodified file. The only change from camera RAW was a necessary scaling and conversion to JPG for internet presentation (the RAW is too large to upload). I made no changes to color saturation, contrast, or other elements of the image.

This is my interpreted image from the above RAW. I've used a digitally applied graduated filter to better hold detail in the sky, while improving contrast and increasing saturation with a slight to warming of the color balance to enhance the effect of sunset. Without these changes, the scene would not look as it appeared to my eye at the time of exposure.
This is my interpreted image from the above RAW. I’ve used a digitally applied graduated filter to better hold detail in the sky, while improving contrast and increasing saturation with a slight to warming of the color balance to enhance the effect of sunset. Without these changes, the scene would not look as it appeared to my eye at the time of exposure. Admittedly these alterations are mere subtle improvements and may not be evident on some electronic devices.

This is a horizontal view similar to the above images. Using the 'cut and paste' feature in Lightroom, I've applied the same alterations to this RAW file as described in the image above. This feature not only saves time when adjusting images, but ensures an element of consistency between images made in similar lighting conditions. I use it regularly.
This is a horizontal view similar to the above images. Using the ‘cut and paste’ feature in Lightroom, I’ve applied the same alterations to this RAW file as described in the image above. This feature not only saves time when adjusting images, but ensures an element of consistency between images made in similar lighting conditions. I use it regularly.

A telephoto view made at the same location, but with slight adjustments to contrast controls to accentuate the clouds and rails.
A telephoto view made at the same location, but with slight adjustments to contrast controls to accentuate the clouds and rails. Note the wire crossing the line. I could have taken that out and you’d never have known better, but normally I avoid invasive alterations that physically change the scene.

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Mallow South Cabin Revisited.

The other day I made this sequence from the down platform at Mallow, County Cork.

What makes these photo interesting to me was the textures of the sky.

Looking toward Cork from Mallow.
Looking toward Cork from Mallow.

By introducing a digital graduated neutral density filter I was able to make the most of the texture in the sky.
By introducing a digital graduated neutral density filter I was able to make the most of the texture in the sky.

In order to get the most of the sky, in post processing I worked with the camera RAW files and adjusted the contrast, colour saturation and exposure. In this situation my manipulation is a little more heavy handed than usual. I paid special attention to the highlight density.

This image was exposed just a few minutes later, notice how the sky has changed.
This image was exposed just a few minutes later, notice how the sky has changed.

Irish Rail 083 was running around the Railway Preservation Society Ireland's Cravens set (working as Emerald Isle Express.) This view has the most impressive sky in my estimation. Which is your favourite?
Irish Rail 083 was running around the Railway Preservation Society Ireland’s Cravens set (working as Emerald Isle Express.) This view has the most impressive sky in my estimation. I’ve used a slightly wider focal length to make for a more dramatic view. 

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