The following tutorials will give you a flavour of what we cover on our workshops.
On this page our popular RAW Capture tutorial used by many and on the following pages:
Creating a Black and White Image.
Composition in the Landscape and Beyond
A Colour Managed Workflow
Developing your RAW files: The Basics.
One of the most asked questions whether through this site or on the workshops is how do I process my RAW files to best affect. It is something we have begun to cover on our weekend courses and though it is much better to see the process in real time – here's how I do it.
For this guide I've used Capture One Pro but limited myself to the tools available in the LE version.
First thing is just to do a quick check and see that the Preferences and Colour management settings are in place.
I use a 25% soft sharpen with banding and noise suppression turned down to their lowest setting from the Preference menus and then double check that in your Workflow>Colour Management menus you have unlocked your current monitor profile and chosen your particular camera along with the Working Colour Space of the software you are going to send your processed image to.
So you now used the File Browser to locate your images and have loaded them into Capture One. Using the Tabs down the right hand side we're going to make some adjustments to the image and hopefully achieve the look we're after.
Before you start it's always worth just checking the crucial parts of the image for correct focusing and sharpness. You can even add extra sharpening while you check, but remember to reset it to your default amount afterwards.
This should always be your first port of call and there are several ways of arriving at a suitable white balance. You have the Auto White Balance (The Magic Wand), Manual Adjustment of the Colour Temperature Slider, a previously saved Balance or by picking a suitable balance from the image itself.
Most landscape photographers will find it easiest to use the slider and arrive at a white balance that best suits their purposes…moving it to the right is towards a warmer result. When working in a studio it's easiest to shoot a colour card and to use that but by right clicking and using the picker over the image you can scan it for the best balance and Capture One will even tell you when you've found one that works…it's not always correct as only you know the result you're after but in most cases a white balance that is 130 (a good mid grey) or above (I prefer 189) and equal across the R, G and B values.
This is also the time to remove (or add) colour casts. Too much red, then move the Colour Balance Correction Tool (The Colour Wheel) towards the green, too much blue, then towards the yellow and so and so forth. The Hue and Saturation of that correction can then be fine tuned with the Hue and Sat sliders to the right of that.
If you believe some people this is the magic button of RAW processing.
Capture One gives you 5 stops (2.5 either way) of exposure adjustment; this does not mean that you will magically recover all your poorly exposed images. It does show how much can be recovered from the highlights, which goes against the knockers of digital capture, but it is still best to get it right in the camera and use that magical Exposure slider to fine tune. It may be that your image needs 0.20 of a stop taking off to really nail it down to perfection, but use it judiciously. The image I'm working on here was given an extra 0.05 of a stop.
Next adjustment down is the Contrast Compensation. On landscape work I prefer to move it to +5 for most images, occasionally I'll go further if the scene is one I'm trying to heighten the drama on and this had +7 as it lacked a touch of natural contrast.
And then of course the Saturation slider. Phase One cleverly limited this to 20% of the original at it’s maximum setting, even so this can be way to much – I usually add about 7.5% to an image, but on this particular image I've added 3.5%. People seem to be of the belief that replicating the look of Velvia on RAW files is to hit the saturation button and stand well back, when in fact, it's a subtle combination of the Contrast Compensation in conjunction with the Saturation and the next two levels of adjustment.
Two tools in Capture One that Photoshop users will be used to are Levels and Curves and this is our very last adjustments that will physically alter the processed result.
In the Levels display you'll see your histogram and below that a Shadow and Highlight picker. You'll notice that that it lacks a mid grey…far to vague an area to be making decisions at this point, so for the better.
Most of us know what a balanced exposure looks like in a histogram display. That double wave set away from both ends of the scale is what we know will give the best results from the average image and particularly we are looking to avoid any fierce spikes to the right of the exposure. It's to that area that we make out first possible adjustment to the levels.
If we'd shot a colour card we could have inputted a true black and white using the pickers but we could even without that. By roaming the image with the cursor we can look to the top right of our screens and see an RGB value and use those displayed values to search for a good dark and highlight value.
One of the most powerful adjustments in Levels is to take the White Slider (right hand slider) and simply take it back to meet the histogram. Many images will suddenly lift, freshen, and leap from the screen. That one simple action will revitalise and give the colours a kick up their dreary backsides. Doing the same with the Black Slider will add true blacks and provide subtle punch to the contrast.
So finally we come to the Curve tool, probably the most powerful tool in the box. Use it correctly and it will add drama, punch, bring out detail and even label that image as being yours in terms of style. Or it will make it look like an overdressed turkey.
All adjustments made to your image are to certain extents, personal and none more so than with the curve tool. This tutorial is about what I do to process my RAW files and the curve tool is the one tool where you're flying on your own – with that in mind.
I take the cursor and anchor the bottom third, the middle and the top third by simply clicking on them along the curve adjuster.
Then I pull the bottom peg down very slightly. You'll see the darker end of the contrast lower. Then I take the top peg and very, very carefully push that upwards, you can fine tune with the Shift key. Now take the central peg and use that to add contrast to the mid channels and it’s this adjustment that will add kick to the overall contrast.
You can go beyond these alterations with the curve tool and I did on this image just to bring a little more detail into the sky, but before you go on, don't forget to save your first curve graduation so you can go back to it at any point.
On the photo I'm working on here, I added a further anchor point between middle and bottom to further add to the dark contrast while I also pulled the top point of the curve back along the axis which dropped a touch more detail into the lightest areas of the sky.
Finally – I cropped some of the sky and pressed develop.
Composition in the Landscape and Beyond
A Colour Managed Workflow