To try and launch a kind of learning experience around how to make photographs, I thought to describe my own “workflow” and see if this could identify some items for interesting and educational discussion.
Step 1. Take the pictures.
You could say that the processes are different for every single shot you’ve ever taken. For me, as probably for most, it means setting the camera to a basic set-up, from which any special needs can be selected without too much trouble. This may change during a day, depending on the lighting, indoor/outdoor, etc… but it’s a pretty standard way to work. A trick I use which may not be so standard is as follows. I generally favour Aperture Priority mode and set up the camera accordingly. I do take the trouble of programming a set of Manual settings I can quickly switch to, that can be useful to “save the day”. Typically, settings for using a flash when the rest of the shoot is available light.
Step 2: Get the pictures off the camera.
For this, I connect the camera to my main computer and use the Canon “EOS Utility” to download the photos. You can of course take the memory card out of the camera and use a card-reader to copy the files, but I find that the Canon utility saves me a lot of bother: all orientation information about the shot is kept (portrait / landscape – something I had trouble with in the past), and the photos all end up in a logically named folder in a place I can easily find, without the need for any input from me (I’m lazy).
My computer is set up to automatically take a backup copy of any new files every day on a local drive, and also to my network connected server. This backup also saves the pictures I have worked on. Very handy. I don’t delete the pictures from the card until I next need to use it though – just in case!
Step 3: Selecting and Basic Adjustment.
I power up Capture One Pro, which uses my single, standard “Session” as a default. I don’t have the discipline to tag all my photos, making a Catalogue quite redundant for me. Using this one Session means I don’t have to “Import” the images or any such step – I can just navigate over to the newly created folder with images and go.
Stepping through the pictures chronologically, I can quickly identify the one’s I’ll probably keep. I do the basic adjustments at the same time (exposure, colour balance, cropping, and usually add some “Clarity”), then give it one “*” if I’m happy with it before quickly moving on to the next.
Most of my pictures are delivered in big batches, so this works OK. If there are any I come across that are candidate for some “special treatment” (like B&W, a print or whatever) I may give it two “**”, just to make them easier to find again.
I have on some occasions used the “Auto” feature to set the baseline exposure etc…, but this takes a while to do on all images, and while it sets up a close reference point, it really doesn’t speed me up much, I find.
Notice I didn’t mention “raw” or “JPEG”. I happen to use raw, because I get a lot more leeway in the adjustments (especially in dark areas where noise could become an issue, or in tungsten lighting conditions), but that’s a personal choice. The same method works for either in Capture One Pro.
Step 4: Output the images.
As I use raw format, the images need to be processed to make them into jpegs. The same is true for any jpeg images that have been adjusted (Capture One Pro uses non-destructive editing – it doesn’t touch the original file – so any edited image must be “processed” into a new file to make it available). For this I have a number of “pre-set” recipes that serve mostly to allow me to quickly create different pixel-count images for different needs. I also have some with a watermark pre-programmed. Each “recipe” saves its processed images in a clearly named folder, in the same folder as the images they came from. I do have a few special ones that saves them somewhere more centralised, for “one-off” edits, or those “special” images with two “**”, should I need them. These would also be the candidates for printing, of course.
For saving JPEG images, I have created recipes for different fairly standard needs. They set the image size (in pixels) and compression factor. These can be to fit a box 400pixels each side, to use as thumbnails, to fit a box 1080×1920 pixels (for an HD-sized computer screen), 1600 pixels longest side for “every day” use (including Viewfinders newsletter), or “100%” for full-resolution images. Oh, and one that fits a box 1400 x 1050 pixels, for projection at Viewfinders meetings! 😊
So, I select all the “*” images and activate the batch queue, with the recipes I want to use selected- Capture One Pro will process several recipes in parallel. Don’t go for a coffee yet, though, because it actually happens fairly fast. As the images all end up in a special folder, it’s then relatively easy for me to upload them to my web-site for delivery, send them in to the Newsletter (hint), or copy them to a USB stick. Or whatever.
For printing at home, I tend not to use Capture One Pro directly (except for sporadic contact sheets etc…). It needs a lot of hand-holding to get nice results, I find. Instead, I use a fairly basic photo manager, and stick to using the standard Canon drivers that came with the printer. I usually get very good results that way. For printing at a service lab, I use 100% size (maximum pixels) and 95% compression factor JPEG. Never had a problem!