Preamble

Like many photographers with digital photography I have been confronted with the problem of photo processing, and their rankings ...

Pictures optimization concept …

The digital technology revolutionized the photography, but many amateurish photographers feel out of the race when it is about digital post-treatment. He is not as well difficult as we could believe it to realize a constant production of images of professional quality.

The digital sensors and the dandruff are wonderful tools with their own qualities and defects, but they will never be capable of seizing the dynamics and the nuances which the human eye is capable of perceiving, and of interpreting. He thus falls to the photographer to put his personal touch in an image by the meticulous edition and the post-treatment.

Most of the time techniques used today are the same that those used in past, these are now achieved by means of a computer instead of the hand in the argentic laboratory.

Some consider that the digital optimization is a deceit. I think that it is necessary to make a distinction enter " optimization of image " and "retouch of image ". The optimization of image always existed in photography. To have made of the edition under an enlarger I few confirm that this optimization was as well indispensable as she it is today in digital.

With the argentic the optimization already begins with the choice of the movie used according to the subject to be treated, (sensibility, saturation, grain, etc.) To compare with the regulations that you apply to your APN, following the conditions of recording; then this optimization continues under the enlarger with the choice of the paper and its rank, or the filters with multigrade papers, the masking of some zone of the image, to avoid the overexposure of some zone and increase the time of exposure to uncork the other zones, the possible reframing; as we see him(it) these actions are largely the same that those made today in an IT software of treatment(processing) of file Raw for example.
points to be optimized are often the same (saturation, contrast, high and low light, reframing).
Since the beginning of the photography, the photographers optimized their images in the darkroom. The difference today, it is because we use a digital darkroom (our computer) instead of the traditional darkroom, the evolution of the technology returns this easier work, and faster today, but this one remains for all that indispensable.

For my part, I consider that the "retouch of image " concern the occupations of the graphics design or the advertising, and in this case, we go away from the photography such as one little to conceive her(it) as art, or as purist. However this vision of things commits only me...

Notion of Workflow ...

"Workflow" is the computer modelling and the management of all the tasks to be carried out in the realization of a business process (in our case the photography).

The various phases (or process) of the working cycle:

Regulation of the APN : from the recording, I work only in Raw (file NEF of Nikon)
Some modifications of regulation at the level of the device, following the conditions of shots :

  • Regulation of image : Standart - Neutral or Saturated
  • D-Lihgtning asset : Normal - Weakness or Deactivated
  • Reduction of the noise : Low - Deactivated
  • About white balance : I trust the machine, leaving this one on Auto.
  • ISO Sensitivity : I like to choose the sensitivity, but sometimes I happen to select Auto Iso, if the light is too changeable.

Importing of pictures:

Import on the computer

After shooting, I import my photos to the computer. To do this, I use a "Sony" card reader for the XQD cards, and a "Lexar" card reader for the CF and SD cards, these two readers being USB3.
I created a file per shooting session. Each file corresponds for me to the good old roll of peloche argentique ... These files have a number allowing me to have a chronological classification on the working disc of the computer, as well as the designation of the place and the date.

disk ranking view

At this point, I back up my scratch drive to an external drive, before erasing and reformatting the device's memory card .

Import in the picture library:

For the management of my picture library, I use "Capture One" of Phase One for Mac. Previously I was using Aperture, but Apple having decided not developed its program I migrated my library to Capture One. After tries of several software (Lightroom, DxO Optic Pro ...) my choice is focused on Capture One.

Several reasons led me retaining this software:

  • an interface approaching that of Aperture, although a bit more complex.
  • the possibility to organize the interface at its convenience (ability to add or remove tools).
  • The most important point, a processing engine very powerful and very fine raw files, rendering delicacy, the fine detail, better image smoothing, advanced noise management, vividness and color brilliance . This is especially true when one goes up in sensitivity. In the high Isos Capture One Pro, works wonders.
  • Software devoid of unnecessary gadgets, cluttering the working interface.

So I import my photos into Capture One, with the following options :

  • I leave the original raw files of the photos in their original locations, as defined in the "Importing Images" section.
    (Capture one offers the possibility of storing raw files in its "catalog").
  • I apply a personalized setting according to the nature of the imported photos.
    This personalized setting also includes the attribution of a "3 stars" rating which constitutes an average starting rating for the rest of my treatment flow.

For the classification in Capture One, I created one "Project" per year, within the project, I created one "Album" per work sequence, sometimes a "Group" which can group together several albums.
Example: the Project "Year 2017" , inside a group "973 Prats de Mollo 06-2017" , inside the group "973 Prats de Mollo 06-2017" several "Albums" corresponding to different hikes or places during the Prats de Mollo stay.

Catalog view CO

While importing photos into Capture One's library, the software will :

  • create dynamic previews of photos.
  • reference photos by reading Exif data.
  • possibility of applying a style (predefined style, or user style)
  • backup to a predefined location (optional option)
    personally, I make my backup as soon as I copy my XQD or CF card to the computer.

Sorting photos after import :

Before proceeding with the processing of the photos, I carry out a first sorting; I delete the photos showing blur, duplicates, bad framing etc ... The rejected photos will end up in the Capture One recycle bin. We can thus view all the rejected photos before emptying the CO trash and their final deletions from the disk..
Please note that the Capture One recycle bin is independent of the Computer recycle bin.

After importing, I assign a certain amount of information in the metadata :

  • one or more "keywords", these then allow you to search the photo library. CO presents a sophisticated management of keywords, these can be prioritized :
    example: I can create a keyword "Common Shelduck", attach it to a keyword "Duck", itself linked to "Birds". We can do research at several levels; search for photos of all birds, or all Ducks, or only Common Shelduck.
keywords CO
  • Shooting location, (country city region)
  • CO can record GPS coordinates if your device is equipped with this module.
  • Legend.
  • Color label.
    example: I assign a yellow label to all the photos that are part of a panorama.
  • I refine the classification in the form of a star, (compared to the 3 stars assigned automatically when importing photos).

All of this information will be used to search for photos in the photo library on these different criteria.

Optimization of the Pictures :

Capture One includes a number of tools to proceed to treatment and optimization of files, to mention only the main ones:

  • Correction of Exposure.
    • Exposure
    • Contrast
    • Brightness
    • Saturation
  • HDR
    • High light
    • Shadow
    • White
    • Black
  • Clarity
  • Vignetting
  • White balance correction
  • Color Editor
  • Black and White
  • Sharpness Emphasis
  • Noise reduction
  • Stains suppression
  • Moiré
  • Lens correction
    CO has a very large number of optics from different manufacturers.
  • Purple fringes
  • Crop
  • Rotation and inversion
  • Perspective correction
  • Levels - Rgb channel

There are also tools to facilitate the work of optimizing images :

  • Tool see Before / After correction
  • Grid
  • Magnifying glass
  • Exposure warning
  • Auto adjustment of different elements to select (exposure, hdr, contrast, level, etc ...)

Other possibilities of the software :

  • Ability to create multiple version of an image, which are automatically stacked.
  • Possibility of creating layers (adjustment, correction, duplication). These layers allow for very localized interventions.
  • Capture One lets you take settings from a previously processed photo, and apply those settings to a set of photos. This allows you to work fairly quickly, with the possibility of then refining the photo-by-photo processing.

In my workflow, I only do “best” optimization when using a photo, especially for exposure prints.

Photo library management...

From Capture One, a large number of operations concerning the exploitation of the photo library can be carried out, to name only the main ones:

  • Sorting and searching according to different criteria (keyword, label, classification etc ...)
  • Creation of intelligent album: dynamic album fed from defined criteria (keywords, label, classification, etc ...)
  • Printing photos :
    The printing module allows you to create and save printing presets (paper size, orientation, margin, border, printer color profile, etc.)
  • Export photos :
    The export module allows you to create and save export presets (size, definition, image format, embedding a logo or a signature), and allows you to export a whole series photos previously selected in a single operation.

Capture one includes an online help site accessible from the question mark present on all the software tools, and allowing direct access to the corresponding chapter. Very convenient...

Publication on my personal website...

I use the export module to generate the photos to publish on the "Montagne et Nature" website
Setting up the CO export module allows me :

  • resize the photo to 1200px x 800px.
  • generate a quality but lightweight Jpeg file for the web.
  • apply a specific emphasis setting to the screen.
  • keep some metadata (copyright).
  • apply a watermark or logo specific to my site.

These files are then uploded on my site using my "Transit" FTP software.


Notion of colorimetry

Additive synthesis :

The principle of additive synthesis is simple, using only the three primary colors that are red, green and blue, one obtains the white. Mixing them in different proportions will give all other colors. The two-by-two mixing of the primaries will give a twice lighter color which is the complement of the third.
This synthesis principle is known as RGB (Red, Green, Blue) in the Anglo-Saxon countries and RVB (Rouge, Vert, Bleu) in the French countries.
The additive synthesis is used by the screens, and is made up of the three basic lights. In RGB, secondary colors are brighter than primers, which is why their synthesis is called additive.

additive synthesis
  • The complementary color of cyan is red.
  • The complementary color of yellow is blue.
  • The complementary color of magenta is green.

Subtractive synthesis :

Subtractive synthesis is very often associated with primary CMY (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow). The mixture of the three primaries will give the darkest color of the system which ideally should be black. To offset the disadvantage of a non-perfect black, the graphics industry uses a fourth color to complete or replace trichromatic black. This system, based on CMY blends reinforced by the black color, is called four-color process (CMYK).
Subtractive synthesis is used in printing.
If we mix two primary colors, the result will be a darker secondary color that will absorb more light to that is why this synthesis is called subtractive.


subtractive synthesis
  • Black with cyan, magenta and yellow filters.
  • Red with magenta and yellow filters.
  • Green with yellow and cyan filters.
  • Blue with magenta and cyan filters.

Black and White in Digital Photography

The black and white photo is an art in its own right, It brings a dose of mystery, timelessness, and magic to the images. Some textures are often magnified by black and white.
To make a good picture in black and white, it is preferable strong contrasts as well as many different shades of gray. In black and white as there is, by definition no color, one can only play with light tones and dark tones.
The passage of a black and white photo is mainly based on two techniques:

  • The retouching of the contrast and brightness of certain areas of the image.
  • The retouching of the brightness of certain colors of the image.

Process a Black & White photo in CO Pro

The retouching of the brightness of certain colors of the image (technique n ° 2) is specific to the conversion of an image in black and white. In some software applications you can apply color filters, the effect of which is similar to the color filters used for silver photography.
The filters have the particularity of stopping a part of the wavelengths corresponding to their complementary colors. They let through the wavelengths corresponding to their own colors. Thus, they attenuate their own color while strengthening their complementary color.

Filters in Capture One Pro

In Capture One Pro, the black-and-white conversion tool is based on this principle of color filtering:
The first four filters correspond to those used in silver photography, sometimes with different gradations, the last three filters allow refinement of the filtering.

  • Red filter: Primary, for lightening reds and strongly darkens the blues and greens, strongly reinforces the clouds and dramatizes a blue sky.
    (red 100%, green 0%, blue 0%)
  • Yellow filter: secondary, to lighten the yellows and darken the blues and violets. Ideal filter for the landscape.
    (red 50%, green 50%, blue 0%)
  • Green filter: primary, to lighten greens and darken the reds, perfect for photos of vegetation.
    (red 0%, green 100%, blue 0%)
  • Orange filter: tertiary, for lightening the reds the yellows and the oranges, darkens the blues and the violets.
  • Cyan filter: secondary, lets Cyan but also Green and Blue, it stops its complementary color, the Red.
    (red 0%, green 50%, blue 50%)
  • Blue filter: Primary, to improve the catches from afar by accentuating the mist. It stops red and green.
    (red 0%, green 0%, blue 100%)
  • Magenta filter: secondary, it stops its complementary color, green.
    (red 50%, green 0%, blue 50%)
  • The Primaries are: Red, Green and Blue.
  • The complementary colors: Magenta, Cyan, Yellow.
  • A Secondary corresponds to the addition of two Primaries in equal parts.
  • A Tertiary is obtained by adding, in variable proportions, a primary and a secondary.

For a given color, its complementary color is that which, added together with it and having nothing in common with it, will give the White.

The Black and White tool and its filters in Capture One Pro.

black and white tool CO