Lahaina Sugar Cane Train
Today we went on the Lahaina Sugar Cane Train!!!!!!
Breakfast, Wailea, Maui. 8:16 AM.
The babies' faces are orange from the tungsten lighting in the kitchen.
Palms, Kihei, Maui, 9:47 AM.
This snap was a little too dark, especially in the palm trees. Therefore I dodged (lightened) the palm fronds a bit to give them some life out of shadow. Roll your mouse over the image to see how it looked before I dodged it.
Sugar Cane Train, Lahaina, Maui, 10:41 AM.
Sugar Cane Train Locomotive, Lahaina, Maui, 10:52 AM.
Shooting at ISO 50 in contrasty light I used my usual -2/3 compensation, which is actually how I have my 5D Mark II's C3 position set: ISO 50 and -2/3.
The flash lit the black train just enough that it looks perfect, and doesn't look like a black blob, as it would if I hadn't used flash. The only gotcha is the reflection in the locomotive, but if anything, that adds dimension.
Ryan and the Sugar Cane Train, Lahaina, Maui, 10:55 AM.
Ryan at the Sugar Cane Train, Lahaina, Maui, 10:57 AM.
Sugar Cane Train, Lahaina, Maui, 10:57 AM.
I used +1/3 exposure compensation to keep the yellow looking yellow, otherwise it would be too dark. A Nikon would probably have pulled off this shift without any tweaking, since most Nikon meters see both in 3-D and in color, but Canon meters still only see in black-and-white and are blind to distance.
Sugar Cane Train, Lahaina, Maui, 11:00 AM.
Exposure compensation was at zero, which is 2/3 stop more than my usual -2/3. I wanted to keep the side of the train light, and was prepared to lose the daylit parts in exchange.
The flash lit the closest parts of the train, otherwise they'd be almost black. I especially wanted ALOHA COACH well lit, and it is.
I would have flipped the negative to make the photo read from left-to-right, but the reversed lettering would have spoiled it. I'm too lazy to flip the lettering in perspective, and it can be done.
Ryan and the Sugar Cane Train, Lahaina, Maui, 11:00 AM.
This is overexposed. The Canon evaluative and E-TTL flash meters, blind to color and blind to distance, didn't figure out that the small yellow object on the right is the main subject. Instead, it saw too much dark in the background, and tried to expose accordingly, and overexposed. If I had the chance to reshoot (I didn't because we were getting on the train), I would have shot at -2/3 instead.
Of course if I was a better photographer, I would have anticipated this and set accordingly before I shot.
A Nikon meter would know the distance to Ryan, and would have known he was wearing yellow. It would have figured it out.
How is this shot at ISO 400, and the wide shot above made at ISO 50? Not shown, but saturation for the long shot at ISO 50 was at +3 and this shot of Ryan at only +2. How did I set all that so fast? Simple: I shot the wide train shot in the 5D Mark II's C3 position, and clicked it to C2 as I turned and snapped Ryan just 30 seconds later. I had all these settings pre-programmed for things (the train, C3) or people (Ryan, C2).
All my whining aside, even though we lost Ryan's yellow shirt in the sunlight, his face is mostly in shadow, and lit brilliantly by my old 220EX flash. I could have tweaked this in Photoshop faster than writing about it.
OK, you twisted my arm. Here's the same shot after I burned-in (darkened) Ryan's shirt and the concrete.
Ryan and the Sugar Cane Train, Lahaina, Maui, 11:00 AM.
TO do this, I made a curves adjustment layer and a layer mask. I pulled--down the middle of the curve to darken, and then used the brush tool to paint the darkening effect over the bright yellow shirt, as well as the sunlit concrete. I left Ryan's glowing face alone.
Katie enjoying the Sugar Cane Train, Lahaina, Maui, 11:04 AM.
As often happens, the flash with 1/4 CTO warming gel made Katie look perfect. She's just enough lighter to stand out subtly from the background and put just the right delicate highlight in her eyes, all without looking like any flash was used. Perfect!
Katie enjoying num-num with Aunt Lisa on the Sugar Cane Train, Maui, 11:38 AM.
This shot was a little too dark, mislead by the bright outside, so I lightened it a bit in Photoshop with a curves layer, lifting the middle a little.
The flash is a huge help. If I hadn't used fill-flash, the girls would have been blue and dark. Besides the great look, the only signs that flash was used are the slight highlights on Katie's nose and in the num-num bag.
The locomotive comes around to the other side of the train, Puukolii, Maui, 11:40 AM.
Wow! Steam!!! Puukolii, Maui, 11:40 AM.
On both these shots, the fill-flash worked instantly and perfectly so that everything looks natural.
If I hadn't used flash, Ryan and mom would have been nothing more than black silhouettes. Also by using a slightly orange (1/4 CTO) filter velcroed over the flash, the fill light is nice and warm to counter the coolness of shadows, and looks wonderful. I'm impressed with myself: a 1/4 CTO over the fill flash is the secret to awesome color in people photos!
Adding more light from a flash to the dark parts looks a zillion times better than screwing with HDR, and it's a lot faster, too. HDR doesn't work for single images of moving things as seen here, and even if you do use software trickery to bring up shadows, it's still never as good as simply putting more light on them in the first place.
Katie on the Sugar Cane Train, Puukolii, Maui, 11:43 AM.
I just love the look I get with fill-flash. It balanced perfectly and the colors are awesome. The smile isn't as radiant as it could have been, but heck, just feel the colors. Without flash, or without the 1/4 CTO warming gel velcroed over the flash, Katie would have been dim and blue due to being lit from the blue sky, and not any sun.
Note also my fake Hasselblad look: square crop, and shot with a lens with the same 5-bladed diaphragm as most Hasselblad lenses.
Ryan on the static Sugar Cane Train display, Lahaina, Maui, 12:22 PM.
Another square crop; I also straightened it slightly with Photoshop's Lens Distortion Filter. Fill-flash lit Ryan and the side of the train, who otherwise would have been in black shadow.
Ryan the Engineer, Sugar Cane Train static display, Lahaina, Maui, 12:23 PM.
Ryan is lit by the fill flash, and the 1/4 CTO warming gel makes the light from the flash nice and warm instead of too blue. Without the flash, Ryan would either have been just a black silhouette, or if I added enough exposure, a mostly bland, blue figure against a very bright glaring background.
Dada and Ryan, Sugar Cane Train, Lahaina, Maui, 12:26 PM.
Great facial expressions make this shot. The relatively blind Canon Evaluative and E-TTL meters were fooled by the black train behind us, and thus overexposed. This shot would have been better technically at -2/3 stop exposure compensation, but tough.
A great thing about the 5D Mark II's ridiculously high resolution, along with the super-sharp Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II lens is that there is always more than enough resolution to crop in to anything you need. Here's us cropped from the above:
Crop from above: Dada and Ryan, Sugar Cane Train, Lahaina, Maui, 12:26 PM.
Not only is there always more than enough resolution; this was shot in SMALL JPG, at the lowest JPG quality setting, NORMAL. The 5D Mark II makes extraordinarily sharp SMALL JPGs, because it has so much data with which to craft the small JPG.
Oh yes, that's the Think Tank Speed Demon camera bag around my waist. I carried all my gear, and a 2005 Panasonic PV-GS120 3-CCD DV camcorder, in that bag all day, every day, and it was always comfortable. All the junk behind us in part of the locomotive; it's not tripods coming out of my bag. I don't bring tripods when shooting digital; I left those in my studio 3,000 miles away.
Next go-round I'll use a curves layer to darken this.
The Grand Wailea, Maui, 7:28PM.
I braced the camera carefully on a balcony, and made several shots so that I could pick the sharpest one later.