368 – Downtown Train

I shot this train (tramway line 5) in the morning on my way to work. It’s one of the new trains with low entrances, actually looking more like a gliding metal worm than like a train. I used the Nikon 18-200 at 200mm, f5.6, 1/60s and ISO 720.

Post-processing was … hmmm … elaborate 🙂

The problem was, that the file had more noise than I like, and even worse, that because of the dynamic range, in any normal exposure the highlights in the red channel would clip excessively. Developing for the highlights was not an option either, because that would render the image much to dark.

My solution was to create an HDR image from the RAW file (Photomatix Pro allows that from a single RAW file), use highlight compression for tone mapping, and use that along with a version developed for the midtones in Photoshop, one in screen mode over a gray single color layer, the other in soft light, both slightly desaturated in the extreme yellows and reds. Noise Ninja on the pixel layers, a beauty blur mixed in, some sharpening with the high-pass filter, a little warming in Lab, hmm … I’m sure I’ve forgot something.

Don’t forget, you can now click on the image and see a much bigger version.

The Song of the Day is Tom Waits’ “Downtown Train”, but today not by Tom Waits, no, not even sung at all, today we glide along with the Spring String Quartet on their 2002 album “Train Songs“.

6 thoughts on “368 – Downtown Train”

  1. Wow, this is spectacular. The reflections almost come alive for me. They’re so … fluid is the best I can come up with and the quality of light is amazing. Love it, love it, love it and the music really works as well.

  2. Thanks. Actually I thought that this would appeal to you. I guess this is not very far from your own style 🙂


  3. This is ALMOST among the two or three of your very best images(two of which I proudly own). What holds it back for me (and remember, I’m quibbling here about a masterpiece) is the darkening on the left. Now normally I try not to get into a technical review. But since this is an abstract it is driven by things technical. I wish you’d allow some more highlights to escape in those areas to better balance the work, otherwise it seems to tumble off my monitor on the heavy side.

    Again, I am really quite moved by the power of this piece but it is as if you’ve not quite resolved a melody.


  4. Ted,

    I see what you mean, but I can’t feel it. This is mostly due to the fact that I was there when I shot the image, and that at that moment the train was about to take a curve from a darker street into a sunlit one.

    I remember physical reality and from that point of view my approach may be correct, but of course that is only due to things completely outside of the image that I’ve finally created, things that don’t translate into anything here. Yes, I admit, it is a little unbalanced.

    … time passes …

    OK, I’ve changed it. You may have to reload the page in order to see the new version.

    It’s subtle, it’s probably not even what you meant, but I do like it better now. Thanks.


  5. Hmm. After viewing both the original and the adjusted versions, I like the original better. The difference is subtle, but for me the darker tones did great job of leading me through the image to the brighter stuff on the other side.

    It’s surrealistic. Dynamic. Cool.

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