Old 02-20-2007, 12:05 AM   #1
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Default Struggling with overcast and snow

I'm having trouble figuring out how to do pictures with snow and poor light. My first effort had lighting (dark) nand crop reasons for rejection, but was accepted upon appeal. This is the one that several of you said in another thread that the lighting was actually done properly.

Image © Janusz Mrozek
PhotoID: 176146
Photograph © Janusz Mrozek


My second effort was also rejected:

http://www.railpictures.net/viewreject.php?id=340111

I spent a lengthy amount of time trying to get brightness and contrast about right, messing with those controls plus shadows/highlights plus curves. I did several versions before submitting the one I did. So I'm just confused or uncertain of what I am doing. All tips gratefully accepted as I am struggling.

Of course, it may simply be the case that the light is too poor for RP acceptance. Tell me what you think.
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Old 02-20-2007, 01:01 AM   #2
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I'm not telling you anything that you don't already know, but that's a very tough light to shoot it. Your dark subject is surrounded by bright white...it's just too much range for a camera to take. It's one of those scenes where you try to error on the side of dark (either by underexposing or with a ND filter) & hope it can be salvaged.

I'm guessing you did nothing wrong...you probably metered on the train as it approached & you probably underexposed, because on your histogram your whites aren't fully blown out.

All things considered, you cleaned it up pretty well. You still have a slight yellow cast (on my mointor anyway)...I'd probably tone down the yellow saturation about 5%.
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Old 02-20-2007, 01:20 AM   #3
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I'm thinking the shot may be a tad over saturated too. It's hard to shoot a bright red train against the gray sky and white snow on the ground. The cropping is dead on, though.


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Old 02-20-2007, 01:23 AM   #4
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Thanks, guys. I think that, among many other things, I simply have a weak sense of the appropriate level of contrast.
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Old 02-20-2007, 01:27 AM   #5
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Both of those shots are nice; I especially like the CP shot, has feel to it...I can feel the cold air and hear those GEVOs.

When I shoot on cloudy days, unless there are some neat clouds or something, I tend to like to do stuff like framing the train against something, like a rock cut or a big building, or finding a road bridge and shooting downwards, to keep the bright white sky out of my shots. I also find myself doing more pans, blurs, and other creative stuff on cloudy days, but thats another story...

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In my most recent cloudy/snowy shot,
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I tried to keep the power framed against the trees so as not to draw attention to the sky...

Hope this helps!

Oh, and nice catch on two matched CP GEVOs, I have yet to do that, and they go practically right by my house!!!
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Old 02-20-2007, 01:29 AM   #6
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Joe, I desaturated the red and it looks a lot better, thanks, really made a difference. Bill, I cut the yellow down a bit but the effect may be to subtle for my eyes.
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Old 02-20-2007, 02:31 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JRMDC
Joe, I desaturated the red and it looks a lot better, thanks, really made a difference. Bill, I cut the yellow down a bit but the effect may be to subtle for my eyes.
It could also be my monitor...I'm working on my laptop this week...it's way past due for a calibration. In hindsight, I shouldn't be commenting on color...the cast is probably on my end.

I agree with the comment about framing the train against something other than sky. Ha, if you browse my daytime train images, you'd think the sky didn't exist.

Good luck with a resubmit.
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Old 02-20-2007, 02:47 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CG_F45
In my most recent cloudy/snowy shot,
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I tried to keep the power framed against the trees so as not to draw attention to the sky...
That's a good point. Actually, Hancock is quite conducive to that, in fact, I need to keep that in my toolkit as otherwise Hancock tends to to backlit - the better shooting is from the north side. My accepted shot takes advantage of that, unintentionally, of course.

Nice shot. I had hoped for that driven-snow look but the snow stopped driving by the time the trains came along.

Quote:
Oh, and nice catch on two matched CP GEVOs, I have yet to do that, and they go practically right by my house!!!
Yes, a pair of CP GEVOs will create some buzz on the CSX boards! I was aware that they were in the area, they had gone east on Q216 the day before, but I was not chasing them and had absolutely zero expectation that I would see them, wasn't thinking about them.
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Old 02-20-2007, 02:47 AM   #9
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Probably been mentioned, but too much contrast between white sky/snow and the dark hillside, IMO. Not enough balance between the two.

I like the touch that the switch & bowhandle offer, though.

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Old 02-20-2007, 02:57 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fotaugrafee, Ink.
Probably been mentioned, but too much contrast between white sky/snow and the dark hillside, IMO. Not enough balance between the two.

I like the touch that the switch & bowhandle offer, though.
Too much in the sense that the problem is not correctable because of the nature of the scene, or in the sense that I should make another go of it?

I swear, I struggle so much with contrast. It took years before I even figured out that +5 contrast, -5 brightness, is the very first thing I should do on 90% of my shots. I still haven't caught up.

Thanks.
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Old 02-20-2007, 03:05 AM   #11
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Too much contrast in the scene. The white sky and the white snow are over-bearing, IMO. Even though sunny days are ideal, it's the blue in the sky balancing with the darker earth (and subject, often) in such cases. Whether you wish to try again isn't my call.

You're likely to find a similar instance where it's hard to shoot white locomotives (say, old school KCS) on the ideal day mentioned above.


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Too much in the sense that the problem is not correctable because of the nature of the scene, or in the sense that I should make another go of it?
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Old 02-20-2007, 02:58 PM   #12
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I always used K25 when available because I love saturated colors. Unfortunately snow leads to pastels and attempts to get the rich colors in a snow scene often meet with dissatifaction. I took some of the river line last weekend,....... snow... Just out of frustration, I printed some of 'em in
B/W... Try B/W for snow scenes, looks like a real winner to me... Ed
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Old 02-20-2007, 03:18 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EdM
I always used K25 when available because I love saturated colors. Unfortunately snow leads to pastels and attempts to get the rich colors in a snow scene often meet with dissatifaction. I took some of the river line last weekend,....... snow... Just out of frustration, I printed some of 'em in
B/W... Try B/W for snow scenes, looks like a real winner to me... Ed
Ed, that's a good tactic in general for snow, thanks. For this shot, I would really like to preserve the cherry red of the CP engines if I can. I've always loved shots of red power in snow, especially CN.
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Old 02-20-2007, 04:29 PM   #14
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Hmm, thinking [sorry] about the above, I realize that a saturated (rich) color is a color that has a low level of WHITE light in it. Kinda hard to remove the color "white" from a snow scene, I guess. Comments? Ed
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Old 02-20-2007, 09:41 PM   #15
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I, too, found a love for this contrast of colors when I lived up north from '91-'99, photographing the Vermont Railway in snow-rich Green Mountain winters.

Just balance the colors out a little in the future. That is, cut down on the amount of overcast sky if there's an ample amount of snow on the ground, as previously mentioned. With sunny blue skies, the shade of blue will greatly reduce the difference in contrast, which is why I prefer to shoot in those conditions.

Quote:
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Ed, that's a good tactic in general for snow, thanks. For this shot, I would really like to preserve the cherry red of the CP engines if I can. I've always loved shots of red power in snow, especially CN.
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Old 02-20-2007, 09:45 PM   #16
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I have thought of contrast as the difference between light and dark, but you make the good point that it is an issue of color as well. It's really a generalized version of what was said about the red being too saturated. On top of the dark/white issues, there is a problem with the strong red and little else, giving it sort of a selective coloring sort of look (of which I am not a fan).

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I, too, found a love for this contrast of colors when I lived up north from '91-'99, photographing the Vermont Railway in snow-rich Green Mountain winters.

Just balance the colors out a little in the future. That is, cut down on the amount of overcast sky if there's an ample amount of snow on the ground, as previously mentioned. With sunny blue skies, the shade of blue will greatly reduce the difference in contrast, which is why I prefer to shoot in those conditions.
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Old 02-20-2007, 09:48 PM   #17
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Another one from that day is in, it also has too much white sky but the balance of color is better:

Image © Janusz Mrozek
PhotoID: 176331
Photograph © Janusz Mrozek


I have already submitted a correction for the RR name.
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Old 02-20-2007, 11:13 PM   #18
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OK, lemme see if I can write this in my second language, English, so maybe at least one of us (me) can understand it..
A vivid, saturated color contains only that pure color. As white light is added that color is dimished and the color looks more pastel (?), or less vivid, less saturated (?) A snow scene, which by reflection from the snow contains gobs of white light which overpowers the colors.., or maybe actually grey light??

Maybe reflected snow light is not white, but sumkinda grey???
(???)
maybe it is actually blue.... Years (55) ago I went to a meeting of the Jamaica (NY) Camera club (on Parsons Blvd in Jamaice) and saw a slide presentation on color.. There was a Carosel with about twenty or thirty slides. each slide contained a view of an identical scene, but each slide had just a little more green than the previous one... The last slide was identical to the first. As each slide got slightly more green, your grey computer (between your ears) cranked in a little more correction so that your brain saw a normal slide. The difference between the last green slide and the next (first one) when it was displayed would blow the wax out of your ears.. It was unbelievable the amount of color correction your brain had supplied... Never before or since have I heard a roomfull of guys say "holy $%$#" at the same time.. This can be seen by skiers who wear yellow goggles and the world turns blue fer a second when they are removed at the end of the day... Maybe a snow scene is not lit by white light, but by a blue light..?????
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Old 02-21-2007, 12:03 AM   #19
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Ed, is that a long-winded way to say to try a warming filter?

Seriously, I understand the point. And I'm a terrible judge of color. Hard to be a photographer in that case, but that's just the way it is.
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Old 02-21-2007, 12:06 AM   #20
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if that is what it is, it is probably easier to pull it out (if it is blue) on the computer.. Filters are things I drop... And you really cannot judge the color of a scene because your brain constantly corrects your impression to make the scene look "normal"... Interesting problem.... Ed
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Old 02-21-2007, 02:47 AM   #21
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I meant on the computer. My software (PS Elements 3) has a "photo filters" section.
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Old 02-21-2007, 04:36 AM   #22
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Long story short, I throw it in the same barrel as shooting into a mirror, indoors, with flash...albeit, not directly.

Take a subject, put them in front of a reflective background (even something like a high-gloss poster) and the light is bound to "bounce" (as I call it) and darken the subject. Regardless how much flash is used to illuminate the subject.

Outdoors, I don't think of it as shooting into a "grey" atmosphere. Cover your eyes for a minute or so, and when you have tight lock on the light hitting your pupil, remove that cover. Look directly into a flashlight or overwhelming light source. Sure, it'll feel like you're going blind, but that is what the camera is seeing in contrast difference. Something dark & something light all in one setting.

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OK, lemme see if I can write this in my second language, English, so maybe at least one of us (me) can understand it..Ed

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Old 02-21-2007, 12:52 PM   #23
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Ed, is that a long-winded way to say to try a warming filter?

Yeh, I guess, but I did not know where I wuz going until I got there... Looks like one just wants to remove the non-white color, which the eye does not see, from the scene. I have assumed that that color is kinda blue.. I also have the feeling that I am well on the way toward re-inventing a wheel... Unfortunately it seems that the really knowledgeable people are either mute or elsewhere.. sigh


The flash problem is kinda different.. Put the camera on manual, assume NO light does not pass unattenuated thru the lens and that the lens is clean and "perfect", and that problem would not exist..tho a hole may be burned thru the focal plane.. Ed

BTW, my first language I attempted to leave behind me when I left the army..with varing degrees of success..
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Old 02-21-2007, 06:34 PM   #24
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Well, it's in.
Image © Janusz Mrozek
PhotoID: 176461
Photograph © Janusz Mrozek


I have a couple more from the day but one has been rejected and can't be helped, I think, and the other may not even make submission stage. Oh well, I've learned a few things about shooting in snow, processing snow shots, and shooting at Hancock. Till next time!

Oh, and a personal note. My first of the series is now over 500 views! I've never had that happen before so quickly, it's only been two days! (For that matter, very few of mine make 500 even after months.) A nice thrill, compared to my usual 200 hit sloggers.
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