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Old 04-12-2016, 03:53 AM   #23
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Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Massachusetts
Posts: 2,010

Originally Posted by JRMDC View Post
I contest that statement, at least in its literal form. For example, looking at your image here, I suspect - and I have not been to this particular RR and certainly was not standing next to you - that the scene didn't look like your image. You enhanced it. You introduce some color intensity and tonality that I am pretty sure was not there. You made it, I think, not what your eye saw but rather what your eye/brain felt you wanted it to look like.
Hi J,

Parker Wilson was spot-on when he speculated that I started with a raw image that was a "dark mess." It was indeed. As noted, I had to balance getting as much exposure as I could in the dark areas, without killing the sky. As it turned out, I think I could have shot it even brighter and not come close to making the sky unrecoverable. That's a live and learn thing.

Take a look at the attachment. This is a JPEG, but I exported this from the unedited raw image, so you can see what I started with. Obviously, this is not how my eye saw it. It was mid-day (albeit cloudy and rainy), and I could see tons of detail in the trees and in the train. When the locomotive went by, I could see the details in the valve gear and vacuum brake system. Good luck seeing those details in the image as-is. In fact, this image looks MUCH worse than the JPEG that I saw on the back of my camera. It didn't look half bad. Unfortunately, Adobe does not speak Nikon Picture Controls, and Lightroom pretty much butchers .NEF files when they open. I don't start from scratch. I start from WORSE than scratch. I have tried Capture NXD and the files do open looking better than on Adobe, but they still don't look like what I saw on the back of my camera, despite what Nikon claims.

In your post, you implied that I somehow "juiced" the image. Well, yes, I applied the very same amount of Clarity (+35), Vibrance (+15) and Saturation (+12) that I apply to every raw image that I process. Considering what the .NEF file looks like, those are not exactly extreme adjustments. If the colors in the boxcars or the locomotive look "too bright", I will remind you that this museum stores all of their sweet pieces indoors. With the exception of Car 65, which spends the summers on the Wiscasset waterfront, their stuff does not weather like the Colorado Narrow Gauge Equipment, which stays outdoors all the time. If the locomotive glistens, it should. It just emerged from a 10-year restoration. The boiler jacket is an iron oxide finish that reflects like a mirror.

The only extremes applied here are exposure, shadows and highlights. I agree, it does not look perfectly real. I occasionally do see cloudy day images where someone hit on the right combination and it does indeed look real. Unfortunately, I suspect that Mike Danneman probably won't want to share his magic pixel dust with us. He does seem to have the combination nailed.

But I stand by my original statement. I wasn't trying to make this image look like some dream train. I was indeed trying to make it look as real as I could.
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My RP stuff is here.

Link to my Flickr Albums. Lots of Steam Railroad stuff there from all over the US.
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