Old 02-27-2009, 02:40 AM   #1
SamD
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Default Bad Contrast...

I've tried three versions of this shot with different contrast levels.

First was high contrast

http://www.railpictures.net/viewreje...d=650716&key=0

Second was low contrast

http://www.railpictures.net/viewreje...key=1089372124

Third, was more less same as low contrast, but with darker blacks

http://www.railpictures.net/viewreje...&key=916930878

I know doing a black and white shot I'm just asking for contrast problems, but the unedited shot is very weird contrast wise (high contrast, but low dynamic range), so doing it in black and white allows me a lot more room to fine-tune the tonal range.

Any ideas, or is this one done for?
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Old 02-27-2009, 02:44 AM   #2
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The shot reeks of Eau De Trying-to-rescue-a-overcast-day-shot-by-converting-to-BW, sorry.
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Old 02-27-2009, 02:51 AM   #3
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Well, it was an overcast day. I think that's pretty obvious, and the black and white doesn't hide it at all.

I wouldn't have even bothered trying it here if it weren't a pacing shot of somewhat uncommon power. I assume that fact is why it wasn't rejected cloudy/common on the first try.
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Old 02-27-2009, 02:52 AM   #4
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Also, I don't see why a shot taken on an overcast day would need "rescuing."
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Old 02-27-2009, 03:06 AM   #5
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Sorry, I guess I was more harsh than funny.

A color shot taken on an overcast day often needs "rescuing" for RP purposes because the quality of light is generally poor with respect to what RP looks for. Here, to my eye the sky overwhelms the shot, especially at the front of the cab. So perhaps the problem is not traditional contrast so much as poor variation in tonality - perhaps that can be solved by remixing the shot and changing the emphasis on the red, perhaps by reducing the red channel.

A bigger problem is that you just don't have much in the way of dark - nothing in shadow, because overcast, and not enough black. It doesn't help that the foreground has a uniform tonality, and that the background on the left, trees and structures, do not stand out from the overcast sky.
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Old 02-27-2009, 03:20 AM   #6
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Yeah, the problem is definitely in the tonality. This was the main reason for doing b/w, since I can manipulate colors to get greater control of the tonal range. But I definitely see what you're saying about the absence of shadows.

Possibly, besides remixing the red channel, burning the lower section of the image would help...

Okay, back to photoshop.
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Old 02-27-2009, 03:27 AM   #7
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Also, isn't the side of a CN black and white stripes? That isn't much of a black, even in the darkest version.
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Old 02-27-2009, 03:30 AM   #8
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It was a pretty faded unit. In color, the red on the cab looks almost pink.

Here's someone else's shot of it.

http://www.railpictures.net/viewphoto.php?id=254751

EDIT: And this shot really gets across how weird the color of the cab is

http://www.railpictures.net/viewphoto.php?id=153674

Last edited by SamD; 02-27-2009 at 03:32 AM. Reason: added a link
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Old 02-27-2009, 03:35 AM   #9
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Tough one!
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Old 02-27-2009, 03:40 AM   #10
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Yeah, CN really picked the worst engine to have on point in a low dynamic range situation. I kind of wish the IC GP38 third in the lash-up had been first, but then again it probably wouldn't have worked as well in this composition.
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Old 02-27-2009, 01:40 PM   #11
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In addition to the issues already mentioned, the subject being partially obstructed by a bush doesn't help !
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Old 02-27-2009, 01:45 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rpalmer View Post
In addition to the issues already mentioned, the subject being partially obstructed by a bush doesn't help !
Nor does the blurriness due to camera movement (up and down).
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Old 02-27-2009, 01:46 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SamD View Post
Yeah, CN really picked the worst engine to have on point in a low dynamic range situation.
I'm sure CN's job isn't to please photographers.
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Old 02-27-2009, 02:00 PM   #14
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In addition to the issues already mentioned, the subject being partially obstructed by a bush doesn't help !
Hmm, maybe a difference in tastes. I think the bush adds interest, however modestly; makes it less of a roster shot, which is my complaint against many pans. It is nicely placed off to the rear - had it been in front of the cab I would agree.
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Old 02-27-2009, 08:21 PM   #15
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Yeah, I had the same feeling about the bush as JRMDC. I also liked that it think it helped get the point of movement across.

Anyway, my final try got PIQ, which is what I get for a crop that cost me most of my pixels.

It was just over 1500 across, which is what I consider the minimum you can get a good image out of, but with the other problems, not enough in this case.
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Old 02-27-2009, 08:25 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SamD View Post
Also, I don't see why a shot taken on an overcast day would need "rescuing."
You don't actually believe that statement you just made, do you?
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Old 02-27-2009, 08:30 PM   #17
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I'm not sure what you are implying.
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Old 02-27-2009, 08:32 PM   #18
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Quote:
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I'm not sure what you are implying.
That you actually believe a picture taken on an overcast day doesn't need rescuing...because in reality, MOST of the time, they do. The rejected shot is a good example of that.
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Old 02-27-2009, 08:40 PM   #19
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No, I absolutely do not believe that. I have many good pictures taken on over-cast days, and I can point to many good pictures taken by others on over-cast days. Diffuse lighting is not a bad thing, if there's enough light to make a decent exposure. I seriously question your skills aw a photographer if you think sunlight is the only daylight that will make good photographs.

I do recognize that on Railpictures, for reasons I don't quite understand, diffuse lighting is frowned upon for ordinary subjects, which is why I submitted my pacing shot of this train, instead of the wedge I took when I finally got ahead of it at a grade crossing.
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Old 02-27-2009, 08:48 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SamD View Post
No, I absolutely do not believe that. I have many good pictures taken on over-cast days, and I can point to many good pictures taken by others on over-cast days. Diffuse lighting is not a bad thing, if there's enough light to make a decent exposure. I seriously question your skills aw a photographer if you think sunlight is the only daylight that will make good photographs.
Same old cliche...
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Old 02-27-2009, 08:54 PM   #21
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Here are some cloudy pictures I took, none of which needed "rescuing." A few depict special power or situations, most do not. I can think of photos by other people in the database that the same can be said of

Image © Sam D.
PhotoID: 271124
Photograph © Sam D.

partly cloudy, definitely not sunny, at a location that's been well shot (mostly by me)

Image © Sam D.
PhotoID: 266357
Photograph © Sam D.

Sort of a snow-shot, but not a very dramatic

Image © Sam D.
PhotoID: 264022
Photograph © Sam D.

You could shot this any sunny morning.

Image © Sam D.
PhotoID: 263059
Photograph © Sam D.

Honestly, I thought this would get cloudy/common, but the composition and moodiness of the clouds made me submit it anyway. Glad I did!

Image © Sam D.
PhotoID: 258375
Photograph © Sam D.

Okay, it is a Heritage unit, but I don't think the photo suffers in any way technically from the over-cast sky.

This isn't to say there's no difference between cloudy, diffuse light and sunlight. They are different, and require different techniques to effectivly utilize each one. But a shot taken on an over-cast day that is technically well executed doesn't need "rescuing," and if it's well-executed enough it may even get published on railpictures despite being a picture of common power in a common location.
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Old 02-27-2009, 08:58 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JimThias View Post
Same old cliche...
Look at some of the great photographers of the last 50 years, including rail photographers. You know what you'll notice? Most of made amazing photographs on cloudy days.

Just because you think sunlight is the only natural light source worth using doesn't make it true.
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Old 02-27-2009, 09:02 PM   #23
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Quote:
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Here are some cloudy pictures I took, none of which needed "rescuing."
1st shot: I see sunlight. Not hard to get a good exposure in that type of lighting.

Next three shots. You're shooting with plenty of snow there to reflect the light. I shoot on cloudy days in the winter all the time, it's much easier to get an even exposure than on cloudy days with no snow.

Last one, I'm sure you did SOME kind of tweaking to it. Also, it's unlevel.


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Look at some of the great photographers of the last 50 years, including rail photographers. You know what you'll notice? Most of made amazing photographs on cloudy days.
Sure, and many had blown skies, which is quite likely the case when you're trying to get a bright enough exposure on darker areas of the scene.

Quote:
Just because you think sunlight is the only natural light source worth using doesn't make it true.
What the hell are you talking about, Sam? How you ever came to a conclusion like that is beyond me. One look at my photos and the number of cloudy days shots I have on RP would prove otherwise.
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Old 02-27-2009, 09:09 PM   #24
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Quote:
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1st shot: I see sunlight. Not hard to get a good exposure in that type of lighting.
Yeah, the sun is marginally there. I've had shots rejected as cloudy for less.

[quote]Next three shots. You're shooting with plenty of snow there to reflect the light. I shoot on cloudy days in the winter all the time, it's much easier to get an even exposure then on cloudy days with no snow.[quote]

This is true. My point was that IF you can get a good exposure, there's no need to "rescue" a shot because it's cloudy. Snow makes it easier, but I included those three photos more because they're recent, and were the quickest examples I could find.

Quote:
Last one, I'm sure you did SOME kind of tweaking to it. Also, it's unlevel.
Okay, last one was "rescued", but from twilight, not from cloudiness. This was taken with just about the last light of the day, low shutter, high ISO etc. and it got tweaked pretty hard because of that. Had it been a few hours earlier, I wouldn't have needed to do more than my standard post-process.

Also, it's not unlevel, that's wide-angle distortion!
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Old 02-27-2009, 09:17 PM   #25
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Sure, and many had blown skies, which is quite likely the case when you're trying to get a bright enough exposure on darker areas of the scene.
Making photographs is, under any conditions, balancing many competing and conflicting factors. Even with sunlight, you still have to make a decision what areas to expose for, and another part of the photo may suffer as a result. Obviously, a cloudy blown-out sky isn't a great thing for a composition where the sky is a good third of the photo, but in a shot where the sky is a more minor subject, this isn't really a problem.


Quote:
What the hell are you talking about, Sam? How you ever came to a conclusion like that is beyond me. One look at my photos and the number of cloudy days shots I have on RP would prove otherwise.
Well, I said that based on your comment here that cloudy-day photos "almost always" need "rescuing."

I did just look at your photos after I posted the group of mine, and I see you do shoot on cloudy days, with good results (and not just snow shots). I think several shots are good lessons in exactly what I've been saying: that if you know what you're doing cloudy light will get you a good photograph as sunlight.
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