Four Edit Friday 4 – Cave Point

In this episode, we work on a picture I took at Cave Point County Park, in Door County, WI. As usual, the edits are done in Capture One Pro 10.

The initial edit is a standard edit

The second edit has exaggerated color and clarity.

Black and white. This is a higher contrast edit, which I prefer for this image.

Selective reduced clarity for a soft focus effect. The picture takes on a more dreamy quality with the softer focus and muted colors.

Which do you prefer? I think on this one I like the second photo. I would probably not use the soft focus effect much, but it is something interesting to play with.

Which do you prefer, or what would you have done differently? Please leave a comment below.

Four Edit Friday 3 – Bridge

In this Four Edit Friday, we look at a picture of a foot bridge.

The first edit, as usual, is a fairly standard edit, mainly highlight recovery for the sky, and warming the color temperature. The photo is also cropped to 4×5, because I like that aspect ratio, and think it works for this image.

The second is a black and white, adding some contrast to the previous version.

The third one is just a sepia tone of the second, with a couple small tweaks.

The last one goes back to the original crop, and has some tone curve tweaks to give it an old film look.

I think I like the black and white edits, not sure whether I prefer the straight or toned version.

Which one do you like? Leave your thoughts in the comments.

Four Edit Friday 2 – Waterfall

In this Four Edit Friday we look at a photograph of a waterfall, and make 2 color and two black and while edits.

 

Edit 1, Standard Color

 

Edit 2, Standard B&W

 

Edit 3, Higher contrast B&W

 

Edit 4, a more movie color graded look, with deeper blue shadows.

Four Edit Friday 1 – Dead Flowers

This is an idea for a series of videos doing 4 edits of the same photograph.

 

Here are the final photos:

Edit 1, lower contrast and saturation
Edit 2 – Color grading
Edit 3 – Higher contrast and saturation
Edit 4 – Black and White

Which do you like, or how would you have edited it differently? Please leave a comment below.

Do you like this format for videos? Would you like to see more?

Life Lessons From a Photograph

Looking at a photograph from a recent trip, I realized something. The photograph shows the Lake Michigan shoreline, and looks very peaceful. As is often the case, looks can be deceiving, as the waves were crashing to the point that I was getting splashed regularly standing 10-15 feet above the water. But a 2 minute exposure smoothed the waves to the point that they look like little more than haze around the base of the cliffs. As big as any wave was, it made only a faint impression, that over time averaged into something serene and beautiful.


In life, we are often battered by the waves of adversity. Problems at work, school, or home can seem insurmountable at the time, but we usually find that with the passage of time the insurmountable becomes a distant memory, and usually even weaves into the beauty that is our life. Just like the photograph, things that look huge in the moment look small and dim in the context of our lives. Looking at your problems in the light of this longer time frame can reduce stress and get you through the challenges of life.

So if you are faced with problems, or are looking at taking a risky step, look at it in the context of this year, or better yet this decade, or your lifetime, and you will realize that problems are almost never as big as they seem, and that risks that won’t kill you.

But as I was thinking about the first part of this, another observation hit me. It may seem contradictory, but I think they are complimentary, and work well together. 

In today’s celebrity culture, it is easy to compare ourselves to TV and movies stars or the latest social media sensation, or even the most popular kid a school or someone at work. Their lives looks so perfect that we can never compete. Just remember that we are seeing photographs separated from reality by plenty of time and distance (and probably some retouching.) The waves are there, too. Don’t ever think that someone famous has it so perfect that your life can never compare. They have struggles too, but the distance masks that. Don’t punish yourself by trying to match something even they can’t. 

10 Capture One Editing Tips

After using Phase One’s Capture One for most of my photo editing, I have come up with a few tips to help get the best results. Hopefully these can help you, too.

1: Setting Black and White points.

If you use Lightroom, or watch any tutorials, you have probably seen the tip to hold down the Alt/Option key while setting the white and black points. You can use the Exposure warnings in C1 the same way, but make sure that Shadow Warnings are enabled (Preferences > Exposure > “Enable Shadow Warnings” checkbox”).

I normally don’t use the warnings much, I start by setting the points to edge of the histogram, and adjusting by sight from there. When you are setting the black and white points, don’t be afraid to have some areas that are in warnings. The sun, specular highlights, and lights will often be entirely washed out, and will look wrong if they aren’t, and some shadow areas should probably wind up black.

2: Dodging and Burning.

When using local adjustments to selectively lighten dark areas, or darken light areas, using highlight or shadow recovery can render more natural and pleasing results than using the exposure slider.

If the section is too far into the mid tones, or it does not work for some other reason, you can use the HDR tools to soften the effect.

3: Overdoing Effects

Ever need just a little more shadow recovery or something? Applying a selective adjustment mask to the whole picture allows you to add more of many maxed-out adjustments.

4: Customizing Your Tools.

This one isn’t really a secret, but C1 lets you create custom tool tabs. I have one that contains Base Characteristics, Rotation & Flip, Exposure, Levels, White Balance, High Dynamic Range, Clarity, Sharpening, and Black & White. I spend 90+% of my time in the browser tab and my custom one.

5: White balance in Black & White?
Yes! Adjusting the white balance in B&W photos can drastically alter the look. The white balance is applied before the B&W conversion, so adjusting it can act a lot like the sliders in the B&W tool to adjust the levels of individual colors. It is less predictable, but can sometimes make adjustments that are difficult with just the color sliders. Setting the white balance can also add separation for some colors, so I would recommend setting white balance before you do the B&W conversion in any case.

6: Try some non-conventional adjustments

Highlight recovery not looking quite right? Try lowering overall exposure, then using shadow recovery to lighten the shadows. There are a number of maybe counterintuitive things like this to try. It can seem weird, but like they say in audio “if is sounds (looks) right, it is right.”

7: Smoothing Colors

The skin tone color editor tool has additional tools to smooth out colors, however, the tool is by no means limited to skin tones. You can use it to smooth any tones in the image, and since it is available as a Local Adjustment, it can be applied to multiple tones in an image.

8:  Enlarge tools

Some tools, like the Color Balance tool, can be difficult to use at the size it is on tool palate. If you click and drag the top of the tool off the palate, it becomes a floating window, and can be resized. Just drag it back onto the palate to dock it again.

9: The many ways to adjust contrast

There are several ways to adjust contrast in an image, including the contrast slider, Levels tool, High Dynamic Range tools, curve tool, and even the Color Balance tool. Play around with them all, and learn their strengths and weaknesses.

  • Contrast: Very easy, but little control. Prior to version 9, it effected the saturation of the image too much to make very large adjustments. With the engine updates in 9, you can use it a lot more, but may need to add some saturation.
  • Levels: This sets your black and white points. I usually start by dragging the bottoms of the bars to the ends of the histogram, and a little past if it looks good. Once you pass the ends of the histogram, the image starts clipping.
  • High Dynamic Range: These only reduce contrast, but you can “overdo” some of the other tools, then soften it with the HDR tools.
  • Curve: The most control, and the easiest to mess up. An “S” increases contrast, the reverse can be used to bring out highlight or shadow detail. Use the Luma curve for less impact on saturation and color.
  • Color Balance: I haven’t used this much, but you can adjust the brightness of highlights, midtones, and shadows.

10: Selective saturation adjustments.

One of my biggest uses for the Color Editor is to tame the saturation of greens in an outdoor image. To do this, I increase the overall image saturation, then bring the greens down. You could also select the greens, invert the selection, and increase the contrast.

One thing to be aware of is that the overall saturation is applied before the Local Adjustments, so if you desaturated the image, you may not be able to add saturation back in.

I hope these give you some ideas to improve your editing.

Do you have any tips or tricks? Please leave them in the comments.

Thank You

Over the last 240 or so years, many thousands of young men and women have decided that there was something out there that mattered more than themselves. More than their hopes and dreams, more than life itself. They left behind home, family, friends, and the familiar to fight for their country. From the American Revolution, The War of 1812, the American Civil War, two world wars, Korea, Vietnam, Operation Desert Storm, through the current global war on terror, and countless smaller operations throughout the world, they have fought and died so that Americans and others can enjoy the freedoms we have. 

They left behind mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, husbands, wives, girlfriends, boyfriends and children in the hope that they and their loved ones could have a better country and World to live in. Although many of them came home to enjoy that life, many others gave the ultimate sacrifice for us. They forever rest in cemeteries throughout the world, or in the fields or seas where they fell. 

My family has been blessed, the nearest relative I have lost is one of my grandfather’s cousins, Harry Peter Holdmann, killed in action in the Second World War, 36 years before I was born. I thank the Lord that we can remember the service of many other family members and friends on November 11th, instead of today. But that thankfulness is tinged with sadness, knowing that many families have lost loved ones. 


So this weekend, take a few minutes away from the barbecues and family gatherings to remember those who can’t be here, and to be grateful to them, and those who loved them.