(go to the bottom for all the links)
This is as in-depth as I’ll ever go in sharing my before & after images and sharing my workflow. I don’t think I’ve ever shown a raw, out of camera image before.
So many people have been asking how I use Capture One, Photoshop and Alien Skin Exposure, I think it’s time to do some sharing.
I’ve mentioned this Facebook a bunch of times: Capture One has changed the way I shoot. I now only shoot tethered.
Every photographer has had the same experience – you don’t want to show the back of the camera to the client. First you have to do a bunch of work to sort out the contrast and color balance and sometimes even the white balance. You want the client to see the final, gorgeous, polished version, not the crappy raw file.
And more so than the client, there’s your side as the photographer. You have to imagine what the final image may end up looking like. And you don’t really know either. You’re already so busy with shooting that this just adds an extra bit of worry ‘will this image work out?’.
Here’s the solution:
1) Use Capture One (10% off with ‘AMBFELIX’). I shoot tethered via a USB cable. This means every shot the camera takes is automatically imported into the computer. This obviously wouldn’t work at a wedding but it’s helpful in the studio and even on location shoots.
When you shoot in Capture, you end up with the RAW file, it looks flat, it looks boring, it has no contrast and the white balance is often off. This is where I make my first changes. I ordinarily: Correct White Balance; tweak exposure; increase contrast; desaturate a little bit; work in shadows and highlights to suit; and maybe adjust the color balance. I leave levels and clarity alone for the most part.
This will give me a beautiful image right off the bat. Capture One will automatically apply these adjustments to each new image as you shoot. Simple. Powerful.
It makes all the difference. Psychologically you are now not covering up terrible looking images in the back of the camera and hoping the client doesn’t ask to see them. Instead you can shoot proudly and get excited about what you’re shooting. Such a different process. This is a HUGE issue for a lot of photographers.
A little tip: Use Capture in SESSION view, you’ll see how it manages the files through the filesystem. I much prefer that. So for a shoot of Allie, I would have something like ‘Allie Portrait Shoot’ as my folder name on my shoot drive (I use an external drive). It would be where all the Captures are stored. I don’t use the catalogue view in Capture.
So now you have an image that’s already amazing, and I like to stretch the definition of ‘in camera’ to include this, the Capture One edits, as they can be applied while you’re shooting:
2) Edit skin in photoshop. I export the files from Capture One into a folder on my desktop, usually something like ‘Allie Retouch’ - I export in 16 Bit TIFF in Adobe RGB
I take the images into photoshop and do a light skin retouch and handle any major messes. Usually I’ll have shot them so that they look pretty decent using the lighting I previewed on my How-To Class on CreativeLIVE.
I won’t show more of my photoshop process here. Watch Pratik Naik’s class on retouching, I learnt most everything from him and the plentiful online resources out there. Sue Bryce also has a lot of resources in this regard.
All the finished images on here have had some small photoshop work done for skin and little fixes.
3) I use the standalone Alien Skin Exposure 6 app (30% off with ‘FKZ1409′ till Sunday night) on my mac to do color work on these images. The process, as explained in my demo is not as scientific as it may seem – I rely heavily on my personal taste which I’ll try explain below.
The ‘Allie1′ preset is a simple vignette and included as a bonus.
I urge you all to explore these presets and see what I did. Make your own, have fun with it! I’d love to see them on my Facebook page too.
Those of you paying attention will notice there’s also a NEUTRAL preset. This is what I use and start my edits from. I don’t think it’s in Exposure by default so I made one of my own.
That’s it. Simple. Fast. Beautiful images.