Creating stunning black and white images in Capture One Pro (Podcast 606)

Creating stunning black and white images in Capture One Pro (Podcast 606)

I recently created a video for the Phase One team to show how I created my Boat Graveyard black and white image using a number of techniques and features of Capture One Pro 11. We’ll pick up the trail with the concluding episode of my 2018 Hokkaido Winter Landscape Photography travelogue series next week, but for this week, I hope you find this video useful.

The audio podcast episode for this week is really just pointing people to this page, but I’ve embedded the usual audio player just to be thorough. Feel free to skip the audio, and go straight to the video and blog post below.

Each year, I travel to Hokkaido, the northern-most island of Japan, to lead my minimalist winter landscape photography tour. Much of the work I make from the locations we visit is converted to black and white, and Capture One Pro enables me to create beautifully toned black and white images without the need for third-party plugins. Being able to work directly on my raw files affords me a number of important benefits. I can save on disk space because I don’t have to save large PSD or TIFF files. I can also revisit and tweak my processing without having to completely reprocess it in a third-party application. And I get to reap the benefits of the ever-improving processing engine as Capture One Pro is upgraded over the years.

Today we’re going to take this image, straight out of the camera…

Boat Graveyard with Big Sky - Original

Boat Graveyard with Big Sky – Original

And convert it to this black and white image.

Boat Graveyard with Big Sky

Boat Graveyard with Big Sky

Here are the steps that I follow to create my high contrast black and white image of what I call “The Boat Graveyard” in Hokkaido, Japan. Some of the shortcuts I use are custom shortcuts, that may be different to yours, but this is another one of the many things that I love about Capture One Pro. We can customize it to suit and speed up our workflow, enabling us to quickly work through our images.

First, let’s enable Black and White and reduce the Blue channel to -20, to darken the blue in the sky a little.

Enable Black and White

Then, on the Background layer (as opposed to creating a layer) let’s adjust the Levels to brighten the whites by moving the white point to -226, to open up the whites in the image, and move the midpoint to -0.18 to increase the contrast a little.

Adjust Levels

Let’s also add 40 Clarity in Punch mode and 12 Structure.

Add Clarity

And we can increase the contrast more by applying a somewhat aggressive Luma Curve to darken the shadows and mid-tones, and lighten the highlights slightly. It’s a good idea to also turn on Exposure Warnings, so that you can see if you start to push it too far. We don’t want the whites to get too bright, or the shadows to get too deep.

Lluma Curve

I also increase the High Dynamic Range Highlight slider to 38 to reduce the highlights and increase contrast further.

High Dynamic Range Highlights

We can use the Gradient tool with the SHIFT key to draw a mask over the horizon line and apply another pretty aggressive Luma Curve to the sky, with a strong S curve. The Luma curve works mainly on the luminosity or brightness of the image. We can also add a very subtle S curve to the RGB curve, to slightly darken the blue in the sky at the same time as adding more contrast.

Gradiant Mask and Luma Curve

As we bring out some contrast in the sky, the dust spots from the sensor start to become prominent, so we can use the dust removal tool to remove them. And finally, for this layer, let’s increase the Clarity a little further, to around 15.

To bring down the bright patch in the bottom left of the sky, let’s add another Adjustment layer and paint in a feathered mask to darken down the shadows a little with a Luma Curve.

Sky Patch Luma Curve

Now we’ll create a new Adjustments layer, and paint in a new mask over the foreground, and use the new Refine Mask feature to fine tune this along the ridge of the snow, then delete what’s left over the sea with the Erase brush. Once we have all of the foreground snow and boats selected with our mask, let’s add a Luma curve and a bit of an RGB curve, as well as a slight increase in the High Dynamic Range Shadows slider, all to brighten the mid-tones and highlights in the snow

Refine Mask

Finally, we use a number of Heal layers to clone out the bits of grass in the foreground to add the finishing touches.

Another thing that really helps me to speed up my workflow, is that once I’ve made my changes to an image like this, I often copy my adjustments to the clipboard, and apply them to other images with just a few keystrokes. Of course, if I’ve been using masks, I have to adjust them to match the content of the new image, but it’s still a lot faster than doing everything from scratch on each image.

I used to spend a lot of time after returning from my tours just to get through my initial edits so that I can start to blog about my adventures and use the images to market future tours. Now that I’m using Capture One Pro, my workflow is so streamlined that I am able to keep up with my processing each evening and come home with most if not all of my work processed. This is a huge time saver and reduces the stress as I try to catch up with business after my tours.

OK, so that was my post and video on creating a black and white version of my Boat Graveyard photograph. I hope you found it useful.

Show Notes

See all of Martin’s Capture One Pro tutorials here:

Music by Martin Bailey


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Capture One Pro Image Editing and Processing (Podcast 544)

Capture One Pro Image Editing and Processing (Podcast 544)

This week’s podcast is a video tutorial, to walk you through my new image editing and processing workflow in Phase One’s Capture One Pro. I have been using Capture One Pro since July, and have absolutely fallen in love with it, to the point that I haven’t used Lightroom once since switching.

I have also not used Silver Efex Pro or Color Efex Pro at all, and I’m finding myself in Photoshop less often too. My biggest test was how comfortable I felt working on all of the images from my recent tours in Greenland and Iceland, but these were no hiccups at all. I have worked exclusively in Capture One Pro, from import to export and everything in between.

One thing that I was kind of surprised by, was just how little work I had to do on most of my images to get them to look how I wanted. I have never been a heavy image processor, but during my earlier tests, I was putting quite a lot of time into each image. In reality, most of the images that I worked on over the last few month were how I wanted them to look after tweaking just a few sliders.

On occasion, I dived in and did a little bit of work with Adjustment layers, and sometimes did extensive cloning and healing to remove unwanted features like lots of people in the shot, and none of this was difficult to achieve.

What’s really enhanced my Capture One Pro workflow, is the ability to customize Capture One Pro’s user interface and shortcut keys, literally putting everything that I need right at my fingertips. Because of this, I also spend some time in this video explaining some of these aspects, especially the custom shortcuts.

To make it easier to follow along, I’ve actually shared my shortcut customizations here along with a PDF to print them out for easy reference. If you haven’t customized your own shortcuts, you might want to give these a try. Come back to check the shortcuts page from time to time too, as I’ll continue to tweak my shortcuts and will update the page whenever I do. There is a link to the page in the PDF to make that easy to do.

So, here’s the video. It’s almost an hour long, so grab a coffee and a plate of cookies, and I hope you find it useful.

Here too is a link that will list all Capture One Pro tutorials that I release. With this video, we are currently at four, but this list will grow over time as I release more.

Capture One Pro 10% Discount

Please note that due to changes in Phase One, the discount code that I mentioned in the Podcast is no longer valid. Do give Capture One Pro a try though. You can download it here and use it for 30 days before you make up your mind.

Show Notes

Download Capture One Pro to Try:

View all Capture One Pro Tutorials:

See details of future tours here:

Music by Martin Bailey


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Download this Podcast in MP4 video (formatted for iPhone).

David duChemin on After the Camera (Podcast 506)

David duChemin on After the Camera (Podcast 506)

Today I bring you a conversation with my good friend David duChemin, to talk initially about his new series of 20 video tutorials called After the Camera. As you might imagine, we go on to talk about all kinds of stuff, some incredibly profound, and some lighthearted and fun.

I really enjoy talking with David, and I think you’re going to enjoy this conversation. You can pick up After the Camera here:

David duChemin

David duChemin

There are no notes to share this week, as David and I had no agenda, but in addition to talking about After the Camera, we talked about our photographs being subjective views of the world, rather than accurate representations, at various levels.

The changes that we make in the digital darkroom is one area, but also how the image is changed according to the focal length of the lens we shoot with. David continued on to talk about the subject of “trusting the storyteller”, and I think this is such an important aspect in how we respond to a photographer’s work.

We also talk about the need to be more concerned about the quality of images and how printing them helps us to become more intentional with our photograph and post processing. We also discuss that we need to get over the need to select images from any given shoot just because we need to validate our efforts in making those images. It’s OK to get nothing if that’s how it works out, but we will hopefully learn something from the experience that will help us to do better in future.

Towards the end of our conversation we talk about the importance of our experiences as we enjoy this wonderful act of photography, and how which camera you are using has so little to do with how good a photographer you are going to be.

Anyway, to give you a taster of what After the Camera is all about, click the below image to jump to the trailer that David has created.

David duChemin After the Camera Trailer

And this image is linked to the free chapter that David has made available to give you a deeper feel for what After the Camera is all about. I really recommend you take a look at this, because it gives you a great feel for how you would be simply sitting with David for four and a half hours as he works on his photographs.

David duChemin Free Chapter

Hokkaido Landscape Photography Adventure

As I also mention towards the end of this episode, we have just started taking bookings for the 2017 Hokkaido Winter Landscape Photography Adventure, from January 8 to the 20th, 2017. Hokkaido, the northern-most island of Japan is a minimalist winter landscape photographer’s dream, and this will be our third year running a dedicated landscape tour. For details and to book your place visit the tour page here:

Hokkaido Landscape Photography Adventure 2017


Show Notes

After the Camera on Craft & Vision:

You can find David here:

Music by Martin Bailey


Subscribe in iTunes for Enhanced Podcasts delivered automatically to your computer.

Download this Podcast in MP3 format (Audio Only).

Download this Podcast in Enhanced Podcast M4A format. This requires Apple iTunes or Quicktime to view/listen.