[PlayRaw] Waiting for the Big Boy

(James Jordan) #1

OK I hope this works, never tried this before. Anyways, here is a raw file I took on 5-4-19 while waiting for Big Boy 4014 UP’s largest steam locomotive on his maiden journey to UT for the 150th celebration of the transcontinental rail road being finished. Any tips and/or critique welcome. This is the first time I ever tried shooting something like this.


Please let me know if I did something wrong so I can fix it.



[Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.](Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.)

(pphoto) #2

The link leads to a jpg file. Think that the link to the RAW should be this:
Can you add info about license, for example CC-BY-NC or another one?

1 Like
(James Jordan) #3

Thanks, still learning. How do I add license info? I picked “play_raw” in the option menu???

Sorry like I said never done anything like this before.

(pphoto) #4

Since you’re the copyright holder of the image you can decide if and how others can publish your image. Some suggestions:

If you only allow uploads in this thread, you can write something like ‘only uploads in this thread’

If you don’t mind uploads elsewhere then a creative commons license could fit, take a look at this:

I personally use cc-by-nc which allows edits and uploads anywhere as long as my name is mentioned and it is non-commercial.

(James Jordan) #5

Like that?

1 Like
(pphoto) #6

Yes, and this is my edit:

First checking the image

  • Camera with decent sensor
  • Aperture, focal length and exposure ok
  • ISO 100 ok, not much noise to be expected
  • Histogram looks good, on the right side it could show a bit overexposement
  • Check RAW-indicator: Small white parts of the signs and the rails overexposed, but they are so tiny they shouldn’t make problems

White balance
set to 5100K, doesn’t look like auto balance. I check some neutral areas with color checker:

  • 101,96,93 in grey backside of the sign right of ‘501’
  • 153,156,161 in grey area in bottom-right corner
  • 144,139,134 on grey ground in the open gate at the top corner
    Spot while balance in these areas give me values from 4800 to 5300. Since I want to emphasize the rust I choose 5200 as a final result

Highlight reconstruction
Reconstruct color looks best to me in the white rail

I increase to make the image brighter (‘Expose to the right’) and ignore the highlight clipping. Will deal with that later on the shadows/highlights module

Crop and rotate
The areas of interest for me are the wheels and signs therefore I cut off the top and left area. Using the ‘rules of thirds’ guide I crop the image that the axes are on the lower line of the guide.

Shadows and highlights
Since only tiny areas are overexposed I mostly leave the defaults and reduce the whitepoint a bit.
The white area on the rail was too distracting so I removed it with the retouch module.

Just activated with the default settings, gives more contrast

White balance again
The image has a light red tint, I change the white balance to 5150

Local contrast
gives a bit more contrast to the image, increased to 140%

Color zones
The red signs take too much attention, I decrease lightness and saturation of the red color

Gives the wheels a bit more color

I zoom in to 100% and look for an area where I can see noise and some details. The wheels are a good part. I want to reduce noise without loosing too much of the texture there.
Not much noise visible, no chroma noise.
Default strength of 1 in the profiled denoise is a bit strong, I loose too much details in the wheels.
Strength of 0,5 gives good results in the three brighter wheels in the middle, but leaves some noise in the shadows of the machine part on the right side.
Strength of 0.7 is a good compromise.

Chromatic aberrations
The machine part on the right side has some. First I try the lens correction module which has got a profile for that lens. After applying lens correction the aberrations are gone

A simple sharpening would give too much attention to the sand. I want to sharpen more coarse areas which can be done with the equalizer module. Moreover I only want to sharpen the wheels in mid, so I use a drawn mask for that.
After that I add the ‘sharpen’ module using the mask of the equalizer module.

I want to emphasize the wheels and use a vignette for that. After that I increase the exposure a bit.

I find a white sticker on the big wheel disturbing and remove it using the retouch module.

Vignetting again
To give the upper part and the lower border less attention I add another vignette using a new instance of the exposure module (‘Vignette’) with a drawn mask.
To compensate I increase the exposure in the first exposure model.

Demosaic and export
Before export I change demosaicing method to AMaZE and max all options.

Darktable XMP
DSC_0617_.NEF.xmp (15.2 KB)

(James Jordan) #7

WoW…just wow…you really made something so simple PoP. Now I just have to look up each thing and figure out what you said, but don’t worry that part is on me. I love learning new things. :smiley:

Thanks :smiley:


Hi James,

There are about half a million ways to develop a shot. Most often it is a personal matter… Here is my attempt:

DSC_0617.NEF.xmp (7.3 KB)

In case you have not thought about it: if you open your original RAW file in dt, you can follow every step that pphoto made by loading the xmp file he provided (using Load sidecar file).

Have fun!
Claes in Lund, Sweden


DT 2.7.0 DSC_0617.NEF.xmp (8.7 KB)

(Shreedhar Inamdar) #10

Very interesting shot @Jokersloose. Here is a sun soaked version to show what I thought would have been the actual conditions. The aim was to make one start sweating just by looking at the white heat coming from the photo!!! If only a human figure was present somewhere near top left corner!

DSC_0617.jpg.out.pp3 (11.9 KB)

1 Like
(Thomas) #11

DSC_0617(2).NEF.xmp (7.7 KB)

1 Like
(James Jordan) #12

Can’t pick my favorite lol


I took the liberty of changing to the title, category and tags. If you can think of a better title, feel free to change it. Also, consider adding a developed image in the OP once you are more confident. The play_raw category shows gallery previews of the first image in the OP post.

1 Like
(James Jordan) #14

Thank you the title is great

(Glenn Butcher) #15

Ooh, Ooh, railroading… :steam_locomotive:

I’ve been loosely following the roll-out of 4104, thought you might have a mighty image of it here, but was not surprised to see wheelsets. I’ve sat waiting for just such equipment, and turned to shoot the surroundings when things took a while to materialize. This is done with my hack software, so I’ll do a blow-by-blow like @pphoto did:

  • colorspace:camera,assign - I’m using dcraw and camconst.json to look up camera primaries; D3000 was in dcraw. Your camera has a spectral response that has to eventually be mapped down to whatever medium will be displayed, and these numbers, called primaries, provide the starting point specific to your camera.

  • whitebalance:camera - camera multipliers left a blue cast, more on that later I went back and changed the multipliers to suit; the camera numbers were 1.793,1.0,1.371, then numbers that actually look nice are 1.513,1.000,1.661

  • demosaic:ahd - Defauilt algorithm

  • blackwhitepoint:rgb - This scales the data to its lower and upper limits, needed to make the raw data represent black, white, and all the tones in between in the display’s terms.

  • curve:blue,0.0,0.0,40.0,33.0,255.0,255.0 - Pull the blue channel to the green one (See whitebalance, above)

  • curve:red,0.0,0.0,29.0,39.0,255.0,255.0 - Pushed the red channel to the green one (See whitebalance, above)

  • curve:rgb,0.0,0.0,19.0,15.0,35.0,54.2,255.0,255.0 - This would be the somewhat the same as ‘base curve’ or ‘filmic’ in other software, increases the contrast

  • exposure:1.10 - The curve was getting crowded at the bottom, so I just lifted the exposure a bit.

  • crop:0.171329,0.112299,0.903538,0.844508 - I get it, you probably had a decent track-side position for the 4014 fly-by, but the wheelsets would have benefited from a bit more frame-fill and possibly a less straight-on angle.

Okay the above might be a bit obtuse, but it reflects all the things needed to make your raw image a presentable photograph: starts with color conversion, white balance, demosaic, all that before you even start to work the image to your taste.

I live in Colorado; one year when we were poorer and strapped for time, our summer vacation was a set of long weekends riding every steam train in the state. Learned a lot of history, saw some beautiful scenery, and, Trains!!! Steam locomotives are my favorite photographic subject…

Welcome to the forum!!

Edit: changed the WB multipliers, eliminated the per-channel curves.

(James Jordan) #16

I do just haven’t uploaded those yet. Figured I would start with something less “important” to learn with. I don’t want everyone else to do my work lol.

I was standing on a pedestrian bridge that goes over the tracks.

1 Like
(James Jordan) #17

Here’s one of big boy, just played around with sliding things left then right lol



@Claes I like your take.

Nice shot and processing.

(Gustavo Adolfo) #19

Thanks for sharing!
My take on DT 2.7

DSC_0617.NEF.xmp (9.7 KB)

lens correction -> crop -> haze removal (20%) -> filmic (12EV preset) -> tone curve (S shape) -> sharpen


And here is mine :slight_smile:

DSC_0617.NEF.xmp (6,9 KB)