Almost a month after the Canon EOS R5 hit the streets, and just in time for the R6 release, the Capture One team has released an update for Capture One Pro that adds native support for both of these cameras, and as you’ll see, the image quality is a huge improvement over the DNG conversion workaround that many people have been using for the past month. So much so, that I’d recommend anyone that was using that workflow to go back to their original raw files and process them again to get the most out of this amazing new camera.
I am creating this post and podcast today, and although it will be a little on the short side, I want to get it out because the Canon RF 100-500mm f/4.5-7.1 lens release has been brought forward by a month, and I’ll be getting mine this Thursday, on August 27, the day of release, and will be trying to get out into the field to start and take this new lens through its paces so that I can report on my findings early next week.
Anyhow, there is generally a bit of a lag between the release of a new camera and Capture One Pro providing full support for it. I’ve become accustomed to that, and although I would very much prefer it if the camera manufacturers could work better with Phase One to enable earlier releases, in the grand scheme of things, waiting three to four weeks for this support isn’t such a bit deal, and when the support is added, it just reinforces one of the main reasons that I’m a Capture One Pro user. The image quality is just so much better. It’s sometimes only a subtle difference, and not always obvious until you compare images as we will today. The difference between Canon’s Digital Photo Professional and the DNG workaround images is so small that we’ll consider it insignificant, and just work through the four images that I wanted to share with you in pairs so that you can open them in the Lightbox, and we’ll also try looking at them with a before/after slider. None of these images have any processing done to them, other than the standard raw sharpening applied to all images by default so that you can see the baseline from which any further processing would begin.
Note too that these images were shot on the day that I got the EOS R5. I parked myself on a bench near the camera shop for a few minutes to put in a battery that I’d charged and brought along, and attach my strap, etc. and also quickly go through most of the important Menu settings before having a quick walk around West Shinjuku to grab these shots. In all of these pairs of images, the DNG Workaround processed image is on the left, and the Capture One Pro processed image is on the right.
So, you can either click on the images above and then navigate back and forth with your computer arrow keys or swipe in you are on a mobile device, or you can grab the vertical bar on the comparison image below, and compare the differences. Or you can, of course, do both. However, you look at the comparison I’m sure you’ll agree that the native Capture One Pro R5 support provides us with much better image quality than the converted DNG workflow produces. The blues are more natural and the building stands out much better than in the DNG image. It looks more like looking at the building than looking at a photograph of the building.
The same goes for the next shot of the same building. The Capture One Pro version is so much more vibrant and crisp, like I’m looking up at the building on the day that I actually shot the image.
This next pair of images, looking down the staircase of the Cocoon building so much more dynamic, and the texture of the metal is much more realistic. The DNG version is fine if that’s all you look at, but when you compare the two they are really worlds apart and keep in mind that this is without any additional processing. I’d probably add a little clarity and perhaps play with the Luma Tone Curve some, to enhance the image further.
This final pair from the first day is just the sunlight stream through the early summer tree foliage, but again, the difference between the two images is quite striking. You get a sense of the sunlight in the Capture One Pro version, but the DNG workaround shot is flat and lifeless in comparison. I couldn’t really tell in my initial review. The images looked OK, but now they’ve come to life, and it really makes me happy that Capture One Pro has now been updated.
Of course, how much of a difference you can see between these pairs of images will depend on your display. If you don’t see much difference, try a different computer. A desktop computer will generally be better than a laptop display, for example. If you didn’t already check out my EOS R5 Review, you can see that here.
If you are not already a Capture One Pro user, you can try it for a full month by downloading it here from www.captureone.com.
Anyway, I have a few other things to do today, then I’m off to pick-up my RF 100-500mm lens tomorrow, and will be out trying to get some photos that I can share with you hopefully early next week. Stay safe and sane in the meantime.
My name is Martin and I’m a workaholic. Semi-seriously, I’m quite concerned by my inability to drag myself away from the development work that I’m doing on our Photographer’s Friend iOS app. It’s ruling my life and taking up my weekends, evenings, and pretty much every other waking minute, until something becomes so urgent that I have to walk away and take care of business. The Podcast is suffering too, because I’m not able to do anything outside of this coding, but I can’t promise to fix that straight away, as I have some more to do before I can relax a little.
I was doing silent screams at my desk every day last week as the evening drew near and I still hadn’t created this episode, in which I wanted to announce the winners of the free Capture One Pro license that I have to give away. We’ll get to that first today though, and then I will give you a sneak peak at what I’m doing with Photographer’s Friend, as there is some pretty cool stuff that is now mostly working, but the release format is still up in the air as I struggle with Apple’s In-App Purchases testing environment. Anyway, without any further ado, I’d like to announce the winner of Capture One Pro.
And the Winner Is…
I have dragged my feet on announcing the winner of the free license also because I had a really hard time deciding who to give the license to, partly because there were ultimately only two people in the race, Juan and Thysje. If you’d like to read their comments about their experiences trying Capture One Pro please visit the post for Episode 702 and scroll down to the comments. Both made some great points and submitted lovely photos to back up their comments. Because I found it so difficult to chose, and because there were only two people in the race, I decided to simply flip a beautiful Moroccan coin that I have to get a winner. I’m doing this as I write, so we’re going to make Thysje the side of the coin with a star on it, and Juan can be the side with King Mohammed-V on it. Here goes…
And the winner is Juan Ernesto!
Congratulations Juan! I’m so please to be able to award you with this Capture One Pro license, which I have just sent to you by email, and I would like to thank the Phase One team as well for making this possible. Please report back at some point about your continued success using the product, and we can maybe do an interview about your experiences at some point as well, if you’re up for that.
Photographer’s Friend Update
OK, so I’ll try to keep this relatively short, but as I have always tried to update you on what I’m up to via this blog and podcast, let me tell you about the update to our Photographer’s Friend app that I’ve been working on pretty much every waking our for the last three months. After my big update at the start of this year, I started this current update with a tiny goal to add a feature that I thought might be useful, which is a way to permanently link the Hyperlocal Distance label to the Focus Distance dial in the Depth of Field Calculator. Until now, to update the Focus Distance dial with the current Hyperlocal Distance based on the sensor format, aperture and focal length, you had to tap the Hyperlocal Distance label, and then if you changed a setting invalidating the distance, the link was automatically broken.
Now, there is a padlock on the Hyperlocal Distance readout that can be tapped or long-pressed to engage, and after that, the Focus Distance dial automatically stays in sync with the other dials while the label is tapped and engaged, even if you have Pixel Peeper mode turned on, which uses the megapixels of your sensor to give a the most accurate Depth of Field information available in any app that I’m aware of. Now, this change didn’t take me that long, and I fixed a few other minor issues as well, back in March, after I got back from my final Japan Winter Wildlife Tour for this year.
Then, I thought, you know what, if I’m going to submit an update, I might as well sneak in a few other things that I’ve been meaning to do, and that turned out to be a three-month long rabbit-hole, and I’m actually still trying to dig myself out. I am incredibly proud of what I’ve been able to do, and because most of it is already working, I’m happy to share some details with you today as well, but there are a few things that I have still to overcome, so it’s probably going to be another week or two before I can get this released.
Anyway, the new feature that has taken the most time for any single feature, is a new extension for Apple Watch to link the Neutral Density filter Calculator to the watch, so that you can time long exposure photographs from your watch, instead of having to reach for your phone each time you want to run the timer, and also you don’t even have to keep your phone out during the exposure, while using the extension on the watch. You still have to apply filters on the iPhone, but there is a link button that comes to life when the Watch Extension is installed and active, that allows you to link the two timers, Here’s a photo of the two timers in action, linked and synchronized.
Also notice the fancy new Font Awesome icons, which I’m gradually working into the app, giving it a more intuitive and smarter looking interface where possible, compared to the mostly button based interface that we’ve used so far. If you don’t have an Apple Watch, half of the icons you see in the above photo will never be displayed, and even if you do have a watch, some of them hide when it’s not connected and can also be manually hidden.
You can tap that gold link to break the link and run the timers individually, and you can also simply start a counter, which counts up on the watch, then save that counter as a new custom timer. You can also swipe a settings screen in from the right on the Apple Watch, and set a custom timer directly as well, so if you just need a quick timer, we have you covered. Here’s a screenshot from the watch Settings screen.
If interest in the Watch Extension is high, I will probably eventually create a standalone ND Calculator specifically for the watch, now that I know how to program for this somewhat restricted little device. I also want to go on and create an extension for the Depth of Field calculator, but that is a little way out yet.
Also notice how the screen has split itself into two portions and intelligently placed them side-by-side in landscape orientation of the iOS app. There is also an option to switch which side the controls drop down to, so left handed users can have the controls drop down to the left hand side of the screen, rather than the right. For the ND Calculator, you can also two-finger drag the controls section and move it from the top to the bottom and back again, and the left-right handed stuff still works as expected.
This Smart Rotation is a new feature that is going to be part of a Pro version which I’m hoping to sell as an In-App Purchase. I’ve put too much work into this update to throw it out for free. The Watch Extension was always planned to be a paid extension, because I don’t want to charge people that don’t need the watch extension, for the watch extension, although I’m still working on this for both apps, and have a few more hurdles to clear before I can say for sure what the final release will look like. The technology is in place, to split the functionality based on the owned product, but there is more tweaking to do on the IAP testing process, which is my next job after releasing this post.
Mac OS X
The other major change, and again, I’m still working on the release strategy, is that I now have a Mac OS X version of Photographer’s Friend, thanks to Apple’s new Catalyst technology, allowing iOS apps to run on the Mac. There’s additional work involved, so it won’t be completely free, but as an educational tool there is definitely a place for a Mac version, and I’ve found myself using it on the Mac as I’ve worked on this, so I’m looking forward to getting this out too.
Here is a screenshot of the Depth of Field Calculator on the Mac OS. If you’ve ever used Photographer’s Friend on an iPad, especially the iPad Pro with the large screen, you’ll have noticed that the text and numbers on the labels were really small. I figured out how to make it bigger on larger screens now though, so text is now much bigger on the iPad and Mac OS.
And, the Smart Resize is also available on the iPad and Mac OS for Photographer’s Friend Pro owners. This is great for a teaching environment when you might be showing your screen at say a camera club talk, and you can literally resize to say just a thin strip across the bottom of the screen, and the layout just works with you. Smart Rotation is also a great feature for use in the field, when we can finally get back out there, of course.
Note too that in these screenshots I have the new Hyperlocal Distance Lock that I mentioned earlier turned on, so the Hyperlocal Distance is automatically applied to the Focus Distance dial and all of the calculated distances are updated accordingly. If you turn off that lock and tap the blue Hyperlocal Distance label, your originally selected focus distance will be restored.
I’m working the Smart Rotation into as many screens as I can, so as with these screenshots, even the settings screens are looking pretty fancy when in landscape orientation, compared to the squished down portrait orientation screens that are in the currently released version. These are iPhone screenshots by the way. I’m still working on this for the Mac OS version settings screens, but hopefully it will be included in the upcoming release as soon as I can iron out these last few issues that I’m working on.
As I say, some of this has taken so much work that it won’t all be free, although some of these changes may be integrated into an update for the currently available app for free if you already own Photographer’s Friend, and if I can figure out how to do the rest of what I want to do via In-App Purchases. All will be clear in the next few weeks hopefully. If you don’t yet own Photographer’s Friend and want to hear more when I release the update, please subscribe to my newsletter. Also sign up if you want to know when I finally get you an Android version. I promise that this will be the next thing I work on once I get this release out.
It’s been two years since I explained my image management strategy as a traveling photographer, and I’m finding myself explaining what’s changed a lot in email conversations, so today, I’m going to walk through this with you again, and update you on the changes I’ve made.
First of all, allow me to explain the problems that I’m overcoming with my workflow, so that this all makes sense as we work through my thinking.
Problems to Overcome
One question I get asked about a lot, and why I often send people to this post, is how do I move smoothly between computers when I get back from a trip. People tend to make the process of getting images from a trip back into their main library a very painful process.
The good news is, if you build your workflow around the premise that you will travel, you don’t have to do anything special. I’ll go into details shortly, but basically I have to click one button when I get home after a trip, to initiate a backup of my images, and I’m done. In fact, I have to click that same button whenever I go to my desktop computer, so nothing changes. I literally transition between my laptop and desktop computer with zero effort, as I’ll explain.
Another problem people often come up against, is keeping track of what is backed up to where. I’ve found that it’s very important to decide which hard disk contains your working data, and which hard disks are just a backup. If you work on images in separate locations it soon becomes a real pain to keep them synchronized, so we build this into our strategy.
Finally, I think it’s vitally important that we have a multiple backups of our precious photos at home, as well as a copy in the cloud. Having everything under one roof could be a recipe for disaster, if indeed, disaster should strike. Should something catastrophic happen to your house or business premises containing all of your local backups, having the ability to contact someone to receive a backup of all your data could be the only possible way to rebuild your image library, as you rebuild your life.
Same Strategy, Different Software
One other major change over the last few years, is that I’m now using Phase One’s Capture One Pro as my raw processing and image management software. The details regarding what I did in Lightroom are still in the original post, so you can certainly still reference that post for details, and as you’ll see, most of what we’ll cover doesn’t really change depending on the software you are using in your workflow.
Move Catalog Drive Rather Than Synching Computers
The cornerstone of our digital workflow is our image catalog, or now that I’m using Capture One Pro, catalogs, in the plural. I have more than one now unfortunately. But, I’ve found that keeping track of multiple catalogs and keeping them backed up has not been a problem.
The important thing is that I keep my catalog on an external hard drive, and this needs to be relatively fast. A USB 3.0 hard drive generally won’t cut it. I’ve actually changed my hard drive twice since my fist post. I used a Drobo Mini over Thunderbolt, and then 4TB Western Digital Thunderbolt drive a long time, but as I bought a new MacBook Pro with USB-C ports at the end of last year, I picked up a Sandisk Extreme 900 portable SSD drive, and have been very happy with it. These are expensive drives though, currently retailing at $787 on B&H.
These external SSD drives over USB-C 3.1 Gen2 are incredibly fast though, and remove any and all stress related to running your image catalog and images on an external drive. The Western Digital thunderbolt drives were fast too, but nowhere near as fast as these SSD drives. The Extreme 900 comes with both a USB-C to USB-C cable and a USB 3.0 Type-A to USB-C cable, so I can plug it straight into either my new MacBook Pro or my older iMac. The speed is actually pretty respectable over USB 3.0 on my iMac as well. The problem with other USB 3.0 drives is that the 2.5 inch hard drives are slow, but that isn’t the case with SSD.
The downside, is that the largest available volume at this point in time is 1.92TB, so I had to rethink a few things. I can just about fit my Finals and current year of images on this drive, although it will be tight. I’ll explain this in more detail shortly, but the important thing to note here, is that I have all of the work that is important to work on at the current time on this drive, and I run my Capture One Pro catalogs from this drive. When I move computers, I simply unplug the drive from one, and plug it into the other. When I reopen Capture One, I’m taken right back to the location that I left off when I closed the catalog on the other computer.
When I moved to Capture One, I found that it couldn’t handle all of my images in a single catalog, so I split my images into multiple catalogs. Each year of images has its own catalog, except for the first six years, from 2000 to 2005, because I didn’t have that much work, and so I was able to fit this all into a single catalog.
So, I currently have one catalog called 2000-2005, and separate catalogs for each year from 2006 onwards. These year catalogs contain every image that I shot for each year. I do all of my initial editing and image rating in these catalogs, until I have finalized my selection. Once I have finalized my selection, I copy my images to another catalog, called Finals. This catalog contains a separate folder for each year. I also copy the physical images to a Finals folder with one subfolder for each year. I’ll cover this in more detail later.
Catalog List in Capture One Pro
Although I wasn’t happy about having to split up my catalog initially, in practice, it hasn’t been that bad. You can easily get to each catalog from a pull down in Capture One Pro (right) and I have all of the photos that are worth a hoot in my Finals catalog anyway, so most of the time I tend to flick between my Finals and the current year catalogs.
Master and Backup Copies
As I mentioned, I learned from experience that it’s really better to avoid having multiple copies of folders and catalogs that you work on, so it’s really important to decide where you are going to put your catalogs and folders of images, and decide which on is the master, and which ones are just for backup purposes.
If you work on a copy of your image library on one computer, and then work on a different copy of your image library on another computer, at some point you are going to wonder which copy is the most recent, and you’ll have forgotten. Even when using software such as ChronoSynch that we’ll look at later, which has the ability to synchronize the latest files between locations, there will come a point when you have two copies of the same file that have both been worked on, and when you select one copy, you throw away what you did to the earlier copy, or you keep both copies and that’s avoidable, so I prefer not to.
My Master and Backup Copy Strategy
For me, I’ve found it best to have my current years worth of images and all of my Finals on my Sandisk Extreme 900 SSD drive, and I have all previous years on a Drobo 5D, which is attached to my iMac in my studio. I never need to access my original photos from previous years while traveling, and I because I do travel with all of my Final selects, I can get to those if necessary.
Let’s map this out and start to visualize my strategy, starting with my desktop computer, in the studio. When I have my Sandisk Extreme SSD drive, which I call Traveller, attached to my iMac, I can see, open and edit every image I’ve ever photographed. We’ll build this out like a presentation slide deck, so excuse the blank space on the right side of Diagram #1 (below).
Studio Workflow and Backup Strategy Diagram #1
At it’s bare minimum, my workflow starts with shooting images, and transferring them to my Traveller drive. This drive contains the master copy of all of the current year’s images and all of my Finals, which is every photo I’ve ever made that I consider good enough to use, and my current year and Finals Capture One catalogs. These things all live on my Traveller drive, so that I can easily move this to my laptop, as we’ll see shortly.
I use an application called ChronoSync from Econ Technologies to synchronize my files and catalogs around. I used Robocopy when I was on Windows, but it’s not all that intuitive. Other Windows applications that were suggested following the last post I did on this are SyncBack and GoodSync, which is multi-platform.
With ChronoSync you can create synchronization jobs and bundle them together, and schedule a batch of jobs to run whenever a specific drive is attached to a computer. Let’s walk through this
I have two sync jobs that mirror my current year and my Finals folders to my Drobo. Here is a screenshot of my current year sync job (below) and this is simply going to copy everything new in my 2017 folder on my Traveller SSD to a 2017 folder in a folder called Photo Originals on my Drobo.
Using the Mirror option will also delete anything that I have deleted from my Traveller. This is important, because as I remove images from my main copy, I don’t want to leave them in my backup. I also create a Rule to not copy the hidden .DS_Store files to my Drobo. They are specific to each drive, so I don’t want them to be included.
I have a similar job to Mirror my entire Finals folder to my Drobo as well. I don’t Mirror just the current year of my Finals, because as I work on images, I sometimes change images from previous years, so I want to keep this all synchronized with my Drobo.
I also have two special jobs that synchronize only things that have changed inside my Finals and current year Capture One catalogs. To do this, turn on “Allow package file selection” when you are locating the drive and folder to synchronize, and then ChronoSync will treat the package files as a folder, and synchronize the contents.
Sync Package Contents
If you don’t do this, ChronoSync will synchronize the entire package, and that would cause a very large file to be copied to my Drobo every time I sync, and it would cause the entire catalog to be unnecessarily backed up to the cloud every time I sync.
Group Jobs Together in a Container
Once I have all of my sync jobs created, I wrap them up in what’s called a Container, as we can see in this screenshot (below). After adding all of the relevant jobs to a container, you can click the Add to Schedule button and schedule these jobs to run automatically.
You can schedule sync jobs based on various actions, or simply have them run at a set time each day, but for this purpose, I select to run the job “When An Independent Volume Mounts” and this enables me to select my Traveller drive (below). I also select “Prompt user before running”. I want to be prompted, because I don’t necessarily want or need to synchronize my drive every time I plug it in to my iMac.
Schedule Sync Jobs
Once I have this set up, whenever I plug my Traveller drive into my iMac, I see a little popup like this (below) that asks me if I want to synchronize my Traveller with my iMac.
So, although it takes a little bit of time to set up, I can now with one click automatically backup my images and catalogs to my computer. Let’s continue to build out the slides to check where we are in our backup strategy (below).
Studio Workflow and Backup Strategy Diagram #2
We now see that as soon as I attach my Traveller drive to my iMac, my catalogs are automatically backed up to my iMac. I keep a backup of my catalogs on my iMac hard drive for a number of reasons. The first is because if I put them on the Drobo, it would take me longer to backup my Drobo, because I’d need to create separate ChronoSync sync jobs to avoid copy entire catalogs, as I mentioned earlier. The second reason for doing this is that I also set up Time Machine to backup my iMac drive, so that would be an easy way to get back to a working copy if anything went wrong.
We can also see from this diagram that as soon as any new images are copied to my Drobo, they are automatically backed up to my Backblaze account. Backblaze has been great, and for just $50 per year, you can get unlimited storage in the cloud. If I ever had some kind of catastrophic disaster that took out all of my local copies of my images, I could have Backblaze send me hard drives with my 12TB of data on them, and I’d be back up and running in no time.
Location of Files
Let’s also recap on where everything is now. The master copy of my current year’s work and my Finals library of images, and the working catalog for this work is all on my Traveller SSD. The master copy of all of my previous years work is sitting on my Drobo, and whenever I reference these images, I launch the catalogs from my iMac hard drive.
An easy way to look at this, is everything from previous years is based in my studio, on my desktop workstation. Everything that travels with me, is on my Traveller drive.
Local Fault Tolerance
Let’s move on to look at one last slide from my studio setup (below). Although my Drobo has fault tolerance built in, and I can have one drive fail without losing my data, there is always a slim but real chance that more than one drive dies at the same time, or that the entire device could die on me. Because I don’t want to rely on Backblaze sending me my work on hard drives just for a drive failure, I actually have a second Drobo 5D, which is a straight mirror of my first.
Studio Workflow and Backup Strategy Diagram #3
I have a reminder scheduled on my computer to remind me to turn on my second Drobo once a week, and mirror my first Drobo to it. I use ChronoSync for this as well. When I set up my first Drobo 5D I used drives that turned out to be very noisy, so I demoted that Drobo to the backup, and have bought quieter Western Digital Red drives for the main Drobo, as that’s turned on most of the time. They also use quite a lot of power running five 3.5 inch hard drives, so I only turn on the second one when necessary.
I know that some people have had bad experiences with Drobo drives, but I have been very happy with mine, and have never had any problems. But, technology does fail, so I just don’t want to have my main copy of all of my work to exist in just one place locally.
Mirroring Entire Drives with ChronoSync
To close the loop on the last diagram before we move on, please note that to mirror the contents of my first Drobo 5D to my second with ChronoSync Task, because we will mirror the root of the drive, I set up a few Rules to prevent ChronoSync from copying and overwriting some important system files, as we can see in this screenshot (below).
Sync Drobo #1 to Drobo #2
Let’s Get Mobile
OK, so now let’s move on and look at what happens when I’m traveling, or simply working away from my studio. As you can see, I just plug in my Traveller SSD drive, and continue working. If I had actually closed down Capture One Pro on my iMac with that Snow Monkey photo displayed, it would have opened at the same location when I move to my MacBook Pro.
Travel Workflow and Backup Strategy
I also travel with three USB 3.0 hard drives. These are too slow to run my catalogs and images from, but as backups they work fine. One is just a Time Machine backup, that I plug in at the hotel every few days, usually over night, if I can leave my MacBook Pro plugged in to the electricity.
Carry Spare Backup Drives
I then have two backups, which I once again automatically synchronize with ChronoSync. I have a schedule set up to detect each drive as it is attached to my computer, and it asks me if I want to mirror my images and catalogs to the hard drive. I make two backups, simply because one drive could fail. Actually, all of my drives could fail, but having spent many months on the road, over the years, I’ve actually had just one drive fail on me. That was in Antarctica though, and believe me, when there are no shops around, having a spare is very important.
It’s a little nerve racking to only have one master copy and one backup of my images while traveling, but if my second backup drive was to fail, I’d kill my Time Machine backup, and continue to make a backup of my images. Thinking of it this way, carrying these three drives is more to give me backup drives, than an actual backup of my images, but as it’s all automatic once I’ve plugged the drive in, I just keep them up to date at the end of each day.
Keep Your Copies Separated
One other important aspect of having these backups, is that I feel it’s very important to keep these separate as you travel. I always travel with a photographer vest, and keep my master copy in my vest, on my person, at all times. Even when I go to the bath when traveling domestically here in Japan, I take my Traveller drive with me and put it in a locker.
Having three backups of your images isn’t going to help you at all if they are all in the same bag, and you lose that bag. I generally keep one backup in my bag, and the second in my suit case. These means something would have to happen to all three copies in separate locations for me to lose my entire library of images while traveling.
Turn Off Cloud Backups While Traveling, Please!!
I don’t do cloud backups while traveling, partly because I only pay for one computer on Backblaze, and it’s better to make that my iMac as it’s always on and connected to the Internet. Also, hotel Wifi is usually not good enough to bear up to uploading large numbers of raw files. Many people have automatic backups turned on now, and you can literally watch the network go down as a bus load of photographers get to their rooms after a days shooting. I wish more people would turn this off while on the road.
Synching Settings Files
One other thing that I need to mention before we move on, is that to make moving between computers totally seamless, I also synchronize my Capture One Pro settings folder by moving it to my Dropbox, and creating a symbolic link in the original location. This isn’t officially supported by Phase One, but I’ve been working this way for 10 months now, and haven’t found any problems.
Here is the code I use with my name replaced by USER_NAME. This assumes that you’ve moved the “Capture One” preferences folder under the “Application Support” folder to a folder called “Capture One Prefs” inside a folder called “Capture One” in your Dropbox. This code only works on a Mac, and please do this at your own risk.
ln -s "/Users/USER_NAME/Dropbox/Capture One/Capture One Prefs" "/Users/USER_NAME/Library/Application Support/Capture One"
You of course have to do this on all computers that you will work on, to ensure that your preferences are copied between each via your Dropbox. If you don’t know how to create a symbolic link in Windows, this tutorial will probably help.
Set a Hard Drive Letter for Windows
If you use this strategy in a Windows environment, you’ll probably also need to ensure that the drive letter of your Traveller drive doesn’t change as you move it from computer to computer. Here’s another tutorial on how to do that. Just ensure that you select the same letter on all computers you work on. Give yourself some room too, so that you can still have lots of dynamically lettered drives on your desktop. T for Traveller would be a good option.
Not Really a Cross Plastform Solution
I should also mention that this solution may not ideal if you switch between Windows and Mac regularly. The catalog can be taken from one operating system to the other and will open, but Windows and the Mac OS reference drives differently, so you’d need to tell the other OS where your files live each time you open the catalog on the other system.
Once you have all of this in place, you will literally be able to move your Traveller hard drive from computer to computer, and continue working as though you were on the same computer. Because you have your Capture One Pro settings syncing too, even all of your presets are available on both computers. They essentially become identical.
Exporting Original Format Images
Export Original Images to Finals
Let’s start to wrap up now, with a few other pieces of advice based on my own workflow.
To get my final select images from my original photo folders to my Finals folder I select the images that I want to export and right click one of the thumbnails, and from the shortcut menu, select Export > Originals. You can also get to this option from the File menu.
I don’t change the image name on export, because I change it on import. After checking the destination, I ensure that Include Adjustments is turned on, then click the Export button, as you see in this screenshot (right).
I don’t package my images as EIP or Enhanced Image Package format files, because the thought of wrapping my images in something non-standard scares me. I just want my raw images in a new location, that’s all.
Synchronize Finals Folder
Once the export process has completed, I switch to my Finals catalog, locate the folder for the year I exported my images to, then right click that, and select Synchronize. Capture One will then go and look for anything new in my current year folder, and import them into my Finals catalog. As long as you turn on the Include Adjustments checkbox on export, any changes made to your images will also be applied to your new copy.
Starting a New Year
At the start of each new year, I have a little bit of cleaning up to do, to prepare for starting to photograph the new year. First of all, I ensure that I have completed all edits that I want to do on my previous year’s images, and ensure that I have run my backup to mirror these images to my Drobo.
Then, I close the catalog in Capture One Pro, and delete the folder from my Traveller drive. After that, when I reopen the catalog in Capture One, my folders all show up as missing, as you can see in this screenshot (below).
Locate Missing Folder
To fix that, and complete the process, right click the top level drive or folder, and select Locate from the shortcut menu. You’ll then be able to navigate to the copy of your year folder that was your backup copy until a few minutes ago. After spending some time locating all of your images in the new location, you are ready to continue to use your catalog. From this point on, this becomes your master copy, along with all of the other previous years.
Create a New Year Folder
And of course, you also need to create a new year folder to ingest all of the new work that you’ll make. Remember that this will live on your Traveller drive for the current year, along with your Finals, if that’s how you work, and you’ll just proceed as you did in the previous year. It’s all quite easy once you have gotten your head around it.
Having spent many years tweaking and developing a smooth workflow, I’m very happy with how I work, so I hope this helps you to smooth out any possible kinks that you might have in your own workflow. As I mentioned earlier too, if you don’t use Capture One Pro, the techniques and strategy that I covered should be pretty transferable to whatever program you use to manage and edit your photographs.
As we enter a new year, I’m completing my yearly task of selecting my favorite photos from the previous year, so today I’m going to walk you through my process in Capture One Pro, literally blow by blow as I whittle down my initial selection.
I have actually just got back from a two week break in the UK to visit family, which was great, but I’m a little behind now catching up on business before I start traveling with my first Japan winter tour which starts next Sunday. I was able to photograph a few things that I wanted to get to while I was in the UK, and I wanted to finish processing those images first, before I completed this selection, so I’m a day late with this week’s episode.
Another reason this process took more time than usual is because I had to reprocess a number of images from the first half of 2016 because I switched to Capture One Pro in the summer, and really wanted to complete this task entirely in Capture One. Still though, I’ve started writing this on the morning of January 3, the morning after completing my first pass, so let’s look at my process in Capture One Pro.
Over the years I’ve completed this process many times, and so far have shared details of that process in Lightroom, but since I’ve jumped ship to Capture One, this year I’ll use Capture One references, in the hope that it will help Capture One users as well. If you are a Lightroom user, or any other program for that matter, much of what I say today will be easily transferable to your chosen application.
As always though, I have used Collections to drill down to my personal top ten photographs. In Capture One, to start this process, I right clicked User Collections, and created a Group called Drill Down Groups, and I then right clicked that and created an Album called First Pass. I then right clicked my First Pass Album and selected “Set as Selects Collection”.
Once you have your First Pass album ready and set as your Selects Collection, you can go through your selects for the year, and hit your keyboard shortcut to add any image that you want to look at again to the Collection. I had my shortcut set to CMD + J initially, but as I did this many times yesterday, I found it a pain to hit a two key combination, so I changed my keyboard shortcuts in Capture One to make the letter Q add images to my Selects Collection. I used Q because on the keyboard it kind of looks like a line going into a zero, which you could think of as a diagram for putting something into a jar. It works for me anyway.
I ended up with 973 images in my Finals folder for 2016, which includes a number of images from the first half of the year which were duplicated as TIFF files, because I was using Silver Efex Pro and Color Efex Pro on some of my work, and I keep both the final TIFF and the original raw file when I did this. For the second half of the year, I’ve not used Silver Efex and I only have a few images that I had to edit in Photoshop, so this probably makes 2016 one of my most productive years. The only year that I’ve got more Final Selects than this before now is 2012, when I did three consecutive Antarctica Expeditions, so I had 994 Finals that year, but the chance are more of those were original raw files and a TIFF or Photoshop file, so I’ve probably had my best crop so far this year.
First Pass 140 Images
The Pain of the Cull
After my first pass, I found myself with 140 images in my Collection (above) which is of course 14 times more than I need, so this is where the struggle begins to start and reduce my selection down to just ten. It’s always best to break processes up a little, I created a second Album under my Drill Down Groups called Second Pass.
Create Second Pass Collection
Before I created this new album I hit CMD + A to select all of my 140 images, and I turned on the “Add selected images after creation” checkbox (right) so that my images were automatically added to this new Collection.
From this point, instead of adding images, it becomes a case of removing them, with the delete key. When you are in a Collection, the delete key just removes images from the Collection. It doesn’t actually delete them.
My Selection Reasoning
As I was adding my images, I knew that there were a number of images that were very similar, and that not all of them could be included in the final top ten, but I didn’t want to make the decision at that point. There are two reasons for this, and the first is simply paying respect to some of the images that I like. It’s not a logical way to add images, but there are images from the year that I have come back to a number of times, and I simply cannot start this process without including them, even though I know I’ll remove them later.
The second and more logical reason for adding these images is because the first cull has to be relatively quick. This is how I generally edit down any selection of images from a shoot for example. My first pass is just throwing images that I like into the pot so that I can take more time making my decisions later. That’s where I am at this point after my first pass.
Work in Groups
What I start to do now is look for those groups of similar images, and start to whittle them down to the strongest image. For example, there’s no way I’m going to include more than one sea eagle photograph, so I selected all shots of Steller’s Sea Eagles with their talons forward, and started on these first.
One of those little things that I don’t like about Capture One Pro, but I put up with for the greater good, is that you can only select up to 12 images to view and compare in the Viewer at any one time. I would have liked to view all of my eagle shots at one time, but it’s not possible. Having said that, it’s better practice to work in smaller groups, so this is fine, but annoying that I don’t have that extra control.
You can remove single images from a Collection while in the Viewer pane in Capture One Pro, by selecting the image and hitting the delete key, but ensure that you have “Edit Primary” selected, rather than “Edit All Selected Variants” first. You can toggle between these modes with the icon with the three stacked rectangles, or from the Edit menu. If you leave this set to Edit All Selected Variants, when you hit the delete key, they will all be removed from the Collection.
After whittling down my first batch of Steller’s Sea Eagle shots, I selected pretty much the rest of them, and removed another ten or so, until I got down to the one that I probably knew all along that I would not be able to remove. I think it’s important to compare though, as you learn about your images as you go through the process.
I also knew that I was not going to be able to have many eagle shots, so I quickly went through, and with the single Steller’s Sea Eagle shot in mind, it was easy to remove a bunch of other eagle images, although I had to leave in one White Tailed Eagle and one Black Eared Kite shot that I really like, for now at least.
Giving Them the Bird
I still had a lot of bird shots though, so I started to work through small groups of other types of birds too. I removed some Ural Owl shots, to leave just one, and then got rid of most of my Japanese Red-Crowned Crane shots too. I had lots of crane shots this year of them in flight, but these are really quite common photos, so it wasn’t too hard to remove lots of these too as I became more ruthless.
I ended up with my favorite shot of the cranes at the famous Otowa Bridge in Tsurui, as we’d been fortunate to get beautiful hoar frost for a number of mornings on my 2016 tours, and the one I left had a lot of story to it, with various groups of cranes doing different things, and some pintail ducks in the foreground, so it has remained a favorite throughout the year.
We also had a great year for Whooper Swans, so I had found myself with a whopping 21 photos of these magnificent birds to wade through. Again, I started to break them down into similar groups. I had a lot of them flying against a beautiful softbox-like background, so I worked on these first, then the similar flight shots etc.
I found that a few times I wanted to view the images at full size, but in Multi View that isn’t possible, because when you double click on an image, it zooms in on the image in its small window. This is great for say checking critical sharpness on a certain area of multiple images, but not much use for this exercise. So I found myself flicking back and forth between Multi View and Primary View, with the four rectangles and single rectangle icons in the top left of the Viewer, or under Viewer Mode in the View menu.
Feel the Images
You can make a certain number of decisions when looking at the images in Multi View, but when you look at the images large on your display, you can “feel” the images much more, and I find this really helps with my culling process. Remember that all of the images I am looking at are already favorites from the year, but as some of them flick up on my screen, I get a little flutter of excitement. This clearly tells me that I’m looking at the image that I should be selecting from the current group.
This is also why I think it’s important to work in groups. At the end of the day, I like to create a balanced, representative set of images, almost like a mini-portfolio of my work for the year. I might for example prefer ten swan shots over everything else, but it wouldn’t represent my year very well, when you consider all of the varied subjects that I’ve photographed in 2016.
Sometimes as I feel that excitement, I go back to the last few images and quickly remove them. Sometimes after doing that, the image after the one that just excited me excites me even more, but these feelings just really help with the process. There is also sometimes a sinking feeling after the excitement, telling me that as much as I like the image, I don’t like it as much as the previous image, and this of course is another indication that it’s time to hit the delete button.
Down now to just three swan shots, I started to block, so I moved on. I’m not going to explain every step, but I gradually worked through groups of images, until I got to the end of my Collection again.
Portfolio of 2016 Work
By the time I’d gone through a second time, my Collection contained 70 images, exactly half the images that I started with. This is actually a really nice number for a slideshow, so I made a coffee, kicked my feet up, and hit the slideshow button.
Here are my thumbnails as I started my third pass (below). In Capture One you can view more than 12 images by selecting Hide Viewer from the View menu, and then just use the zoom slider in the Browser Toolbar to change the size of the thumbnails. You can also toggle the display of file name and star ratings under the images by turning Browser Labels off until the View menu.
Collection After Second Pass
Another Capture One Quirk
I really wish there was an option to view or hide the image crop on the thumbnails, but unfortunately this ins’t possible, so images that I have cropped appear smaller than others, and offset a little, which I find annoying. This really should be an option, not the default and only thumbnail view.
I have fed this kind of request back to the Phase One team but they have so far been pretty bad at implementing any of the ideas I’ve sent over. Hopefully it’s just a case of them trying to steer a rather large ship, and these things are just taking time, rather than simply being ignored.
I repeated the process of creating a new album and copied the 70 images from my second pass into a Third Pass Collection. Yet another quirk with Capture One is that it always sets the default sort of a new album to Name, so images are sorted by filename. This means I have to go in each time and change this to Date, so that I can see my images in the order they were captured. I don’t know if it’s just me, but that seems to make much more sense than sorting by name as the default.
Anyway, as you can see I still have a few groups of images that I can work on, so now it’s time to get really ruthless. I still have to remove 60 images, so this is really going to hurt. I only have room for one snow monkey shot, so two of those have to go. I remove the middle one in the previous screenshot (above) but I like the remaining two about the same, so my final decision is based on the orientation. Landscape is better for computer screens than portrait.
Jeez This is Hard!
I have a lot of Winter Trees left, so I go to work on those too. Jeez this is heartbreaking! My boat graveyard in Hokkaido holds a very special place in my heart, but at this point I have to get these shots down to just one, so three of them go. And there are still three shots of lines of boats, so at least two of these have to go too. Aargh!
As much as I love my raptor images, the White-Tailed Eagle and Black-Eared Kite also have to go. They just aren’t special enough to compete with the other images. I’m still struggling with my swan shots too. I was able to remove one of the three that were left, but limped on to remove the Pipe Dreams shot that I’d snuck in. This wasn’t a difficult decision because it really doesn’t match the rest of the set.
I trimmed the Greenland icebergs and glacier shots down a bunch, then moved on to Iceland, and removed my beloved ultra-wide angle shot of Landmannalaugar, as I feel the 63mm shot is a more natural perspective and shows the natural beauty of the valley better.
I also removed two of my ice on the beach shots from Iceland, and kind of surprised myself with my decision to remove the one with the waves crashing over the ice and leave the one with the distant telegraph poles. I love the totally natural scene, but I’m finding myself more and more attracted to images that contain a trace of man, and what we do to our beautiful planet.
After a few more hard decisions, I found myself down to twenty-seven images. I’m hours into the process, and I really need to get this job completed, and release this podcast too, so that I can move on to a few other important jobs that are waiting for me. Ideally at this point, I’d be able to walk away for a day or so, and come back later for the final push, but I don’t have that luxury right now.
Just 27 Images Left!
This in itself is good practice at editing a selection towards to tight deadline. One of the reasons I think this is such an important thing to do each year, is because it gets us accustomed to whittle down images to a very tight selection. I’ve mentioned before that I hate to sit through hundreds of peoples images. It doesn’t matter how good someone is, I never want to view the entire contents of their memory card after a shoot.
A Professional Skill
In a professional environment, we are often asked to provide a very small number of images for a specific project, so developing the skills to drill down to these small sets is a vital part of being a professional photographer, and sometimes that happens with very little time to sit back and wait for the set to define itself.
So, here we go. It’s time to make the hardest decisions so far, and remove almost one in three of my most favorite images from the year. If you look at the last three in the previous screenshot, you’ll see that these are very recent photographs from my visit to the UK. One is the Radcliffe-on-Soar Power Station, that I grew up in the shadow of. I’ve been hoping to do some nice photos of this for years, so that’s staying.
The second is a Lighthouse in Dovercourt, near Harwich in Essex. I found out about this place from a member of my Arcanum cohort Phil Newberry, an excellent photographer from the UK. Phil has an amazing photograph of this spot, so I’ve wanted to visit here for a while too. I really like my black and white shot from this spot, as well as my color version from sunrise the next morning, but I’m going to go for the color version, mostly because Phil’s is a beautiful black and white, so I want to keep them different.
I still had five images from my January Hokkaido Landscape Photography tour, which is obviously disproportionate to the year, so I removed the one of the Shinto Gate in the sea and the fish drying frames. I love both of these shots, but need to keep trimming down the set.
I hate to remove my two flying swans, but I think the two swans flapping on the ice has a very slight edge. The fox is really cute, but has to go too. I like the Bluie East Two shots with the old military vehicles in Greenland, but that situation isn’t ideal, and I’m not a political activist, so I’ll remove that too. I like the boat on the grass shot from Iceland a lot, but I think that can go too.
It breaks my heart again to do this, but if I have to remove one of the two Iceland beach ice shots, I think I’ll leave the wider scene. I also love my shot from my first visit to Gullfoss (whoops! I meant Godafoss) but it’s not as good as much of the other work in my opinion.
Don’t Cut Yourself Some Slack
OK, so now I’m really struggling. I am at eighteen images, and this is the point where many people start to say things like, “Well maybe I can just limit myself to 1.5 images per month and just go with this” but that defeats the object. It’s these last few selections that really hurt, so please don’t give in to the temptation to cut yourself some slack.
OK, so the owl is gone, with it’s beautifully cute upwards gaze, and if it comes to this, I guess I can say goodbye to my frolicking swans, as well as the shot of the waves drawing out at the harbor at Ohmu, Hokkaido. The view of the distant mountains in Greenland is starting to feel just a little bit out of place, and in the scheme of things, I think I need to give in to the temptation to include my shot of the power station. I like the shot but it’s probably elevated in my evaluation at this point because of its relative newness.
Aargh, Just Three More!
With just three more images to remove, and the sun having gone down almost an hour ago, I think I’m going to have to remove the aerial photo of the glacier from above, as it is perhaps symbolically more beautiful than it is aesthetically beautiful. I’ve shared the classic Landmannalaugar valley images before, so I’m going to remove that one too, leaving the breathing mountains shot.
At this point, I’m looking at remove one of three images, to get to my final top ten. I think if I’m totally honest with myself, it’s the sheer cuteness of the snow monkeys that is responsible for them being in the set, so as much as it breaks my heart, I think it’s time to say goodbye to them.
One of Three
So, with that, I have my 2016 Top Ten images selected. I can now rename my Final Pass album to 2016 Top Ten, and drag it to my Top Ten Collections Group. I’d say that this took a little bit longer than it used to take me in Lightroom, because of some of the Capture One Pro quirks, but six months after I jumped ship, I’m still very happy to work around these quirks for the ultimate quality of the images.
Martin’s 2016 Top Ten
Next week I’ll release a follow-up episode in which I walk you through each image, sharing my thoughts on the process of creating each of them. I hope you enjoyed walking through this process with me today, and that you’ll enjoy my walkthrough of the final ten next week.
Share Your Top Ten
Whether you are one of the folks that now also does this each year, or someone new to this tradition, please share a link to your top ten in the comments below. I love to see your work, and for those that have been doing this for a while, it’s always great to see how you are growing as a photographer. If this is your first time, you will not regret doing this. I fully believe it makes us better at editing our images down to a finite selection, and these yearly top ten collections build into an invaluable series of mini portfolios that help us to review our work from year to year, and hopefully help us to see how we are growing as photographers.
We’ll leave it there for this week, but to finish, I’d like to wish you a Happy New Year! May 2017 be an amazing year for you, and if things don’t go as well as you’d like, I wish you the strength and good fortune required to overcome any hardships that you might face and move on to better things.