Four Photos, Four Edits
Red Campion
Nick Hood

Four Photos, Four Edits

2021, Jun 17    

Capture One is my preferred choice of image editor, for its support programme as much as its functionality. This morning, I attended one of their many excellent editing seminars, to catch up with the current software and make sure I’m not missing any tricks, along with delegates from around the world.

The seminar was presented by David Grover, Phase One’s Global Manager of Training. He took four images, one at a time, and talked through his workflow.

David starts with composition and framing, cropping and adjusting keystone if required to fine tune the lines within the image. He moves on to adjust exposure or brightness, depending on existing brighter areas within the image. Brightness works only on mid-tones, whereas exposure is a global adjustment. Moving on to the levels histogram reveals any flatness in the image which can be adjusted by pulling in the range of tones. Again, shadows and blacks work on different ranges within the image, with blacks more narrow than the shadows adjustment. These can be selectively lifted to improve contrast.

With one image, which had a brighter side than the other, David applied a graduated mask, adjusting the fall-off to limit the extent, and reducing exposure within the masked area. Further masks were used to create vignetting. Each mask is applied in its own separate, named layer. Named, so you can remember what each layer does!

David Grover demonstrates the use of layers

Style brushes, a new feature in Capture One Pro 21, were demonstrated also: I have found these to be a very quick and powerful way to make improvements in an image, especially in lifting localised highlights for impact. This is one of the tricks used by landscape photographers to make those stunning shots you wish you could take. A landscape image was edited following a similar process to the first, urban, image, with the addition of some colour toning. David brushed in a clarity (mid-range contrast) adjustment in the sea using a filled layer to first adjust the effect, then clearing the mask before brushing it back in to the area of interest. Colour balance was achieved using a new layer, which technique allows for comparison, which stops you going too far with the adjustment. The settings for this adjustment were saved as a custom style brush, making it available for use on any other image.

The use of heal brushes to remove unwanted clutter on a beach was demonstrated and in response to Q&A, David led a nice discussion on the difference between luma (stable colour) and RGB (impacts colour) curves and their combination in the contrast slider in Capture One.

Noise reduction was demonstrated in an image of a flower, along with sharpening of the flower independently of the background using the colour editor (and preview) to make a new mask – “a bit of a hidden feature”, according to David. This is an extremely powerful tool and something I did not know about before. The refinement of the mask is also very smart.

The final image in the seminar was another landscape. A similar workflow was followed as for the other images, with more focus on the colours in the image, using style brushes to warm up the foreground and lift shadows in a more distant rock formation. Contrast was improved using the custom style brush created in the previous image edit. A final saturation lift completed the final edit.

Further tutorial resources are available (and worth following up) in the Capture One YouTube channel.


“Red Campion” image © Nick Hood 2021.
Original “India” image in the screenshot © Emily Teague.