Category Archives: Workflow

Capture One Pro 7 Review

BOX

Introduction

Capture One Pro 7 http://www.phaseone.com/capture-one is an extremely powerful raw software converter featuring a comprehensive set of tools to help create stunning results from your image files. Capture One’s performance and Image workflow sets it apart from any other imaging program I have used. With its fully customizable workspace, I am now able to process image files faster and can produce images with improved noise reduction, higher dynamic range and superior clarity. This is because Capture One Pro has created a new and groundbreaking image processing engine. With its new Bayer Interpolation Method, it will allow you to achieve vastly superior image quality with excellent color and fine detail from your camera’s raw files.

Importing Image Files

Importing image files in Capture One Pro is a breeze. Connect a card reader to your computer, insert a memory card and Capture One Pro will open the import window automatically. Image files can also be imported from your computer by clicking open the image and choosing Capture One from the program list. My preferred method is to click on the down arrow located in the top left corner, as shown in the screenshot below. The Import Images dialog box will open. Here you will select the location from where to import your files, fill in the desired fields and press import.

Click on screen to enlarge

Click on screenshot to enlarge

Exposure Screen

The exposure window screen is one area where Capture One really shines. This is where image exposure can be improved dramatically in a few simple steps. Using the High Dynamic Range tool, I have been able to correct extreme highlights and recover detail in deep shadows faster and more accurately than with any other software. The powerful Levels and Curve tools can be used to fine-tune exposure while the Clarity and Structure sliders will add punch and brilliant detail to each image.

Click on Screenshot to enlarge

Click on Screenshot to enlarge

Color Editor

Phase One states that the Color Tool Tab and its functionality should always be the cornerstone of your image editing workflow. Here, Capture One Pro provides a set of tools to adjust colors that are designed to produce stunning results more efficiently than ever before. Essential tools such as White Balance, Color Balance and a Histogram are found in this window. The powerful Black & White editing tool allows users to create stunning black & white images. The Color Editor tool will fine tune color in your images, and this is where the magic happens. Selecting the Basic Tab and color picker allows users to click on a specific color in an image to modify. When the View selected color range box is checked, only the color affected by any adjustments will be visible. In the screenshot below I used the color picker to select the blue area of the balloon.   Selecting the Advanced Tab allows users to adjust the most narrow color spectrum without affecting other colors in an image. For this screenshot, I placed the cursor over the Color Editor Icon to highlight it. Drag To Reorder appears in the pop-up box, allowing users to customize the interface to set up a workspace for a particular job.

Click on screenshot to enlarge

Click on screenshot to enlarge

Built-In Presets

Capture One Pro offers a set of built-in presets similar to ones found in other image conversion programs. Presets can be found by clicking Adjustments>Styles, from the main menu. Even though most Capture One users will prefer to choose from the extensive adjustment tools available, individual presets can be applied alone or together very effectively, especially if a job needs to be completed to meet a deadline.

Click on screenshot to enlarge

Click on screenshot to enlarge

Sharpening and Image Quality

Photographers with Photoshop experience will already be familiar with the Sharpening tools found in Capture One. The Noise Reduction Tabs found in this window provides yet another indispensable feature found in Capture One. The Noise Reduction tools will allow photographers to shoot using higher ISO settings with complete confidence knowing they will be able to produce noise-free images with superior clarity.

Click on screenshot to enlarge

Click on screenshot to enlarge

To export a processed file, go to File>Export and choose either the Originals or Variants option. Choosing Export Variants will export the processed version of your image file. The Store Files drop down menu will appear. Choose a location where your image file will open and complete the image output options, as desired.

Other highlights of Capture one include Lens Correction, where typical optical issues like distortion, light falloff and chromatic aberation can be fixed quickly and easily. The Keystone Correction Tool can transform warped captures into natural looking images in a few simple steps. Capture one incorporates Tethered Capture so you can instantly import and view images as you shoot them. Other features include Levels and Curves, a Composition Tool, Focus Check, Sessions, a Spot Removal Tool and much more…

The final balloon image processed in Capture One Pro 7

The final balloon image processed in Capture One Pro 7

Conclusion

Before deciding if Capture One Pro 7 was the right choice for me, I processed several images using four popular raw software conversion programs currently on the market. These were Adobe Lightroom 5, Capture One Pro 7, DxO Optics Pro and Oloneo’s HDR+RAW software. While I was impressed by Capture One’s user customization options, ease of use and processing speed, there was one factor that elevated the software above the competition. A Landscape image is often judged by the quality of color and light captured. Capture One consitently produced the most accurate and dynamic light and color rendition of all the four programs.

Capture One Pro 7 vs Capture One Express 7

While Capture One Pro contains more features than Express, the latter can still very much hold its own, offering most of the powerful features found in big brother. Professional and advanced amateurs will require the ability to use layers, a feature only available in the Pro version, but users who already own Photoshop will easily be able to continue making any necessary adjustments within that software. Owning both Capture One Pro 7 and Photoshop is the ideal situation. However, if I had to start over and was able to choose only one program, I would use Capture One exclusively. Not only does capture One Pro give me the ability to produce the best possible images from my raw files, but it is also available at a price much easier on my wallet than the full version of Adobe Photoshop.

Click on the following link to view pricing for Capture One, and a Key Features Comparison chart for Pro and Express. http://www.phaseone.com/en/Imaging-Software/Capture-One-Pro-7/Pricing.aspx 

Phase One is currently offering a free 60-day trial of Capture One! Taking advantage of this offer is a fantastic option, and one that made me realize what an indispensable tool this software is. Capture One is compatible with both Windows and Mac operating systems.

LOGO

Sunset Curtain Call at Seljalandsfoss, Iceland

Tutorial: Blending Two Images

Due to the heavily debated preference between users of HDR software and On Camera Grad Filters, a third very useful option is often overlooked. Whatever your current preference, the blending option described below is easy to use, effective and can produce images that portray a very accurate rendition of the actual scene. This method was used (in Photoshop) to create the image featured above; “Sunset Curtain Call at Seljalandsfoss.”

The Scenario: Attempting to capture this scene from behind the waterfall, was extremely difficult, due to the heavy spray shooting straight back to where I had my tripod set up. All I could do was take several different exposures, quickly replacing the lens cap in-between each shot. I was honestly amazed to find that there was not one drop of water on my lens after completing the shoot.

Blending the Images: Choosing not to use my preferred method of an On Camera Grad Filter, I discovered that I was left with captured images that were either well overexposed or underexposed. The following workflow was used to make the final image of the falls.

1. First, open both the overexposed and underexposed images in Photoshop. Viewing the images side by side you will see that one image is lighter, displaying a well exposed foreground; however the highlights in the sky are too bright. The second image retains good detail in the sky; however the foreground is too dark.

2. The next step is to place one image directly on top of the other. To do this, click on one of the images. For this example, I selected the darker image. In Photoshop, go to Select>All then Edit>Copy. Then click on the lighter image to make it active, and go to Edit>Paste. You will notice that the two images now appear in the Layers Palette. The images should be perfectly aligned which can be verified by setting the top layer to about 50%, so the lower image is visible.

3. Once you are satisfied with image alignment, look at the tools palette to confirm that the front layer box is black, and the back layer box is white. If not, simply click on each box to set the color.

4. Now you will add a Layer Mask to the top layer. To do this, click on the top layer to highlight it, and then click the New Layer Mask Icon found at the bottom of the Layers Palette. The highlighted top layer will now have a white Layer Mask next to the image icon in the Layers Palette.

5. This is where you will begin to paint on the mask, using the Brush Tool. Select the Brush Tool, and set the Brush Diameter. Choose a large brush for areas with no defined lines, such as horizons to quickly paint areas of light in. Use a small Brush for areas where better control and care is needed. With black selected as the front layer box, you will be simply painting light in. By clicking X on your keyboard or the double arrow in the Tools window, you can switch between the white and black layer boxes, which can be useful if you need to remove areas of light.

Using the Paintbrush, you are literally revealing the lighter bottom layer with each Brush stroke. By setting the Brush Opacity command located in the toolbar above your image, you can modify the strength of the effect. This is a great way to experiment, giving the effect of using lighter brush strokes. Using a lower Brush Opacity is also a good way to fine tune your strokes in areas that require more accuracy.

As with any method you choose to process an image with, the technical aspect can take a back seat to an individuals artistic impression. Using the image blending mode, one can choose to produce images that are very natural, or to add individual artistic impression. One other thing about the image blending mode is unlike HDR or On Camera Filters, it is not an extra expense. This process can be completed with almost any software program that facilitates the use of layers.

How I Was Able to Sell Prints Internationally

“A New Day” Sunrise illuminates Laurel Mountain reflected in the still waters of Convict Lake.

I was honestly a little surprised to be selling my work so soon after launching my new website. Then, after a couple of weeks, I received my first international print order. Wow, I thought; this is amazing! Little did I know of the horror that was to follow.

A few days after the order was placed, I picked up the finished print from my local photo lab. As usual, the lab did a great job and I was so excited to ship the print to my new customer. I arrived at the UPS Store, and proudly requested that they package and ship the print to my new customer in Sydney, Australia. “No problem” the clerk replied, “that will be $143.00.” Well, I was shocked, and at this point realized I was also just a little naive to think that the cost to ship a print this way would have been any less expensive.

Firstly; I did get to sell that particular print, even if it was at a slightly discounted cost. Secondly; I now needed to come up with a solution to complete this sale, and any future print sales that would need to be delivered to potential overseas customers.

After some thought, the solution was quite easy, and maybe obvious to many other photographers. I simply spent adequate time surfing the internet, until I was satisfied that I had found a quality and reliable photo lab as close as possible to the location where the print order was placed. The photo lab also had to agree that they would have the print packaged and picked up for delivery by a major shipping carrier of their choice. I would also request an email containing shipping information, including the package tracking number. This extra service did come at a cost; however I thought it was very reasonable and well worth it to resolve what I first believed to be something I was not even going to achieve.

In the case of the Australia sale, I did not even have to pick up the telephone. Everything was processed using email, including confirmation of a satisfied new customer. Since that first sale, I have successfully processed and shipped prints to Switzerland, Finland and the UK. The first print sold was the image pictured above; “A New Day.”

My Recommendations:

1. When deciding which photo lab to use, first read all their print service information to ensure that they can thoroughly complete the print request. Search for any reviews online about each photo lab you are considering working with. How other photographers rate each labs work, will go a long way in determining which international photo lab you ultimately decide to work with.

2. Make sure their print prices and any extra services needed, such as packaging and shipping are in-line with your sale costs and required profit.

3. Make contact, whether by email or phone if necessary, with an employee at the lab.

4. Communicate your shipping method with the customer.

5. Let the photo lab know that you need to be copied on all shipping information.

6. Follow up with the customer to make sure that they have received the print by the time stated on the tracking information, and that they are totally satisfied with the print quality. I do this with ALL customers, regardless of location.

7. Most importantly; don’t take your print to a shipping store with the attitude that you have done everything perfectly, only to do a complete U-turn, walking out the store almost in tears…Guess who?

Alternative:

Even though I have not tried them, I believe that there are website building programs which offer packaging and shipping, as an option available in their list of services. I decided not to use one of those services, so I can maximize my websites profit potential.

I do however, believe it is very wise to look at as many options as possible before investing in a new business. This has now become more than just a hobby to you, so thoroughly research each possibility, and you will be much more comfortable with the services you choose.

Suggestion:

Try weighing up the pros and cons of both the two website building options listed below. I personally use Photodeck, and have been very satisfied with the results so far. There are also many other website companies and options to choose from.

http://www.photodeck.com/  

http://www.smugmug.com/

Bolinas Ridge Sunset

How to Capture a High Contrast Scene:

I did not originally intend to shoot this scene to include the sun. However, upon arriving to this view, I realized that I was about 2 to 4 weeks late to capture the pleasing light green vivid spring grasses, that are part of the scene. Therefore, I decided to improvise. I chose to wait until the sun was low enough so it could be framed nicely into the image, as well as including rays from the sun. To be able to capture this scene with moderate success, usually requires one of two methods.  One method of pulling this off, would be in post-processing. This is where high dynamic range software or HDR, really shines. However, after using HDR to process several images, I find that the results can be unnatural. This method is still a viable option, and one that is widely used.

My preference for capturing this image, is with the use of on-camera filters. The filters I used to properly expose this image are called neutral density graduated filters. There are many companies that make these filters; however the most popular brands with the pros are Singh-Ray and Lee. My preference is the former, which are attached to the front of my lenses using the Cokin Filter System.

Very rarely do I attach two filters to my lens at the same time; however the high contrast of this particular scene required that I use two filters in this instance. My go-to filter is the Singh-Ray 3-stop soft edge filter. Soft edge refers to how sharply the dark part of the filter transitions to light, while 3-stop refers to how much loss of light there will be, and how much the exposure will need to be increased.

While my go-to filter was used to balance out the normal contrast between the sky and foreground, I also used a Daryl Benson 3-stop reverse grad, which is also part of the Singh-Ray catalog of filters. This filter was required to keep the area of sky where the sun was setting from being over-exposed. This filter can also require practice to line correctly in the Cokin holder. It was necessary for me to adjust the position of this filter several times before I obtained a satisfactory result.

When it comes to either using software or on-camera filters to correctly expose and process your images, my best advise is to not be intimidated. Just get out there and shoot. Practice, practice, practice…Sooner or lately, you will be glad you did.

Technical Information:

  • Nikon D7000
  • Nikon 16-85mm f/3.5 at 45mm
  • 0.3 Seconds
  • f/16
  • ISO 125
  • Singh-Ray ND Grad
  • Daryl Benson Reverse ND Grad

Helpful Links:

http://singh-ray.com/grndgrads.html

http://www.2filter.com/cokin/cokin.html

http://www.hdrsoft.com/