RAW vs JPEG Format Editing in Lightroom

The post RAW vs JPEG Format Editing in Lightroom appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Kunal Malhotra.

As a photographer, you have most likely heard or read discussions about RAW vs JPEG file formats. It is said that a RAW file consists of a lot more data and details as compared to a JPEG file. How about we conduct a few experiments and talk about why one file format is better than the other?

If you are someone who mostly edits in Lightroom CC, get ready to know some shocking reasons why you must avoid using JPEG files. Going forward in this article I am sharing a few experiments that I conducted using the JPEG and RAW files of the same shot. I am sure that by the end you will be convinced to always edit using the RAW file format.

Experiment 1

Adjusting Highlights and Whites

The left image shows the jpeg file, while the right image shows the RAW file.

In this first experiment, I am going to import a JPEG file as well as a RAW version of the same frame in Lightroom. You can see these in the image above. You will notice that the sky in this frame is overexposed and the details are not visible because I exposed for the foreground. In this test, I am going to bring down the highlights as well as the whites all the way to -100 and see what happens with both JPEG and RAW files.

The left jpeg image has struggled to retrieve the highlights, while the RAW file on the right has retrieved the highlights well.

Surprising, isn’t it? If you look at the sky in both the JPEG and RAW files, you can see the difference quite clearly.

The details of the clouds in the JPEG (left) file become ruined when I reduced the highlights and whites to recover the details. Whereas, the RAW file (right) does an excellent job in recovering the details in the sky – even though it was completely overexposed.

This experiment concludes that if you wish to recover the highlights in a photo, RAW files achieve much better results. The JPEG file would fail at recovering details from highlights and whites.

Experiment 2

Detail and Sharpness

The JPEG image on the left is soft, while the RAW file on the right is sharp.

In this experiment, for reference purposes, I again placed the JPEG file on the left and the RAW file on the right. In the image above, I have a 1:1 zoom in Lightroom CC to show you something very interesting. Look at the difference in the sharpness and details on the face of the person. The difference is quite shocking. One would conclude that these are two different shots, with the left one being softer. However, that is not the case here. This is the same shot but just in different file formats.

Next time if you are shooting portraits or events, you know that shooting in RAW can help you preserve far more details than the JPEG file. I usually shoot in RAW and JPEG. Then I use the RAW file to edit my photos while using the JPEG files for reference or shortlisting purposes only.

Experiment 3

White Balance Adjustment

Experimenting with White Balance, I moved the slider to the warmer end of the White Balance scale. The JPEG image on the left, has lost detail and is flat, while the RAW file on the right, is far more usable.

In this last experiment, I wanted to check if adjusting the white balance does make any difference. You may have heard that a RAW file allows you to later adjust the white balance as per your desire? But how different is it from JPEG? Let’s find out in this experiment.

Here I moved the temperature slider all the way to the warmer side in both the RAW and the JPEG files. Interestingly, the JPEG file (left in the image above) was almost unusable for me. At this stage, the sky was almost flat and lacked contrast. Whereas, the RAW file with the same exposure had so much information stored that at this stage the elements in the frame had details and contrast.


The above experiments demonstrated a few key reasons why I always prefer using a RAW file in Lightroom to ensure my final image has maximum details. My advice here would be to shoot in RAW and JPEG to be on the safe side. If you wish to make a quick edit or directly use the image for social media, go with JPEGs. If you wish to edit the same image seriously, use the RAW file.

I hope next time you import an image to Lightroom, these experiments will encourage you to shoot and edit in RAW format.

Feel free to share your views in the comment section.

The post RAW vs JPEG Format Editing in Lightroom appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Kunal Malhotra.

How to Post Photos to Instagram from your Computer using Bluestacks

The post How to Post Photos to Instagram from your Computer using Bluestacks appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Ian Johnson.

Instagram. Ever heard of it? It is the ever-present, popular social media platform to show off your photography to over a billion users. Savvy users may rapidly spread the impact and influence of their images, message, and brand making it a preferred platform for many photographers. Sounds amazing right? So what is the catch? The catch with any social media is that it takes time to curate and post your work which takes time away from other photography tasks. Instagram can exacerbate that because its platform is proprietary to phones and mobile devices making it tedious to post your professionally-edited work from your computer. If you agree with that, I have great news! Bluestacks Android Emulator can access and post to Instagram from your computer.

I want to start this article by saying Bluestacks did not solicit or pay me in any way to do this. When researching for solutions to post to Instagram from your computer, I came across Bluestacks and have been using it for a year. I have written this article from my experience using their software. I review its usage for Instagram, some cons, and some pros.


One of my main concerns when initially installing Bluestacks was its security. You may be concerned about putting your passwords into it, or that Bluestacks may contain spyware. They guarantee that no spyware or malware is packaged with their software. After doing much searching online, I found the consensus was that Bluestacks was secure overall and that entering your password information for Instagram was no different than entering it into the Instagram app on your phone.


Booting Up

You can follow the installation steps from Bluestacks to get started. In short :

  1. Download Bluestacks Emulator from bluestacks.com and run the installer.
  2. Open up Bluestacks and sign in with your Google Account like you would on your cell phone.
  3. Open up the Google Play Store and install Instagram. You will be familiar with this as it is the same as your phone’s app store. Note: if you have two-step verification installed for Instagram you will have to temporarily disable it to sign into Instagram on Bluestacks. You can re-enable it once you have signed into Instagram.

Using Instagram

Using Instagram through Bluestacks is simple. Export your images from your editing software. Use Bluestacks’ “Media Manager” to import the image into Bluestacks. This will make the image available for use on Instagram.

Bluestacks, Usage, Photography

Use Bluestacks’ media manager to import your exported image on your computer.

Bluestacks, usage, photography

I like to store my exported images in a separate location than the RAW files. Bluestacks remembers this location to make it easy to access the images.

Open up Instagram to make your post. Assuming you already use Instagram, you will go through the same steps you use on your phone. You will appreciate being able to make the post using your keyboard!

Instagram, Photography, Bluestacks, usage, steps

To create a post open up Instagram in Bluestacks. Create the post using the same steps you would on your phone.

Thoughts and Review

I hope the steps above demonstrate how easy Bluestacks is to set up and use. After using Bluestacks for a year, I have appreciated the ease in creating posts and responding to users on Instagram. I like knowing I am using my time as efficiently as possible! I’ll break down the pros and cons of Bluestacks as I see them.


Bluestacks makes it efficient to post your edited photos to Instagram. In contrast to other solutions such as posting from Lightroom, you can interact with all of Instagram’s features and respond to comments and followers. I appreciate knowing I can spend more time photographing and editing with less time spent on social media. I also like using Instagram on a large screen and the ability to type using a keyboard.

One efficiency you should use is storing your common hashtags in a notepad document. You can simply copy and paste them into Instagram in Bluestacks. No more worries about mistyping or missing your most productive hashtags!

Hashtags, Instagram, Bluestacks,

I keep a list of commonly used hashtags in a notepad file. This allows me to copy and paste them into my post on Instagram.


There are some cons to the Bluestacks software that I’ve encountered. First, it is a RAM and graphic-heavy software. You may get speed performance issues with Bluestacks if you have moderately low ram (e.g., 8Gb). This is prevalent when you have multiple programs open eating up lots of RAM on your computer.

Second, there have been some bugs in Bluestacks which I have found workarounds for. I already mentioned the two-step verification bug. Another bug I have encountered is Instagram closes after starting it and will not open again until you reboot the software. This is not common and I’m not sure what triggers it, but you simply need to be aware of it.

Last, Bluestacks is a third-party app. At this time I trust the software’s security and commitment to no malware in their software. However, those terms could change in the future and you should always be conscious of what is contained in software updates.

The Bottom Line

I hope you like the Bluestacks solution and start to use it to improve your social media efficiency so you can spend more time working on your photography! As I always say, “Pixels are cheap.” I hope you make more pixels and spend less time on Instagram thanks to Bluestacks’s efficiencies!

Do you have other solutions that you would like to share? If so, feel free to comment below.








The post How to Post Photos to Instagram from your Computer using Bluestacks appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Ian Johnson.

Review: Photolemur 3 Photo Enhancer Software

The post Review: Photolemur 3 Photo Enhancer Software appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Sandra Roussy.

There are many options out there when it comes to photo editing apps and software. From the simple one-click filter apps for smartphones to the elaborate software programs like Photoshop and Lightroom.

Technology is making it easier to do photo editing quicker and expertly without learning the complete nuts and bolts of complex and expensive software. Depending on your particular needs, some software on the market today can do a very professional job in a few easy clicks.

Let’s take a look at one of these programs that have emerged on the market that boasts advanced technology using algorithms and artificial intelligence to enhance photos automatically and effortlessly.

Photolemur 3 Photo Enhancer

Photolemur is relatively new on the market and prides itself on being a completely automatic photo enhancer. It uses algorithms and artificial intelligence to analyze photos and applies corrections and enhancements as necessary. The software is only available for computer use at the moment and is Mac and PC compatible. You can purchase a single license for US$35.00 or a family licenses of up to five users for US$55.00.

How it works – instant and quick results

It really is as easy as they say! You drop your photos or import them into the app, and the software gets to work immediately. It analyzes skies, colors, exposure, and faces to enhance your images and fix any problems it encounters.

You can batch import and apply the editing to all your photos at once, or edit them one by one. The software supports a variety of file formats – even RAW files.

After Photlemur finishes analyzing your images, it gives you a before and after view with a fun slider. You can see and compare the enhancements applied to your photos.

At the bottom, you can click on the paintbrush and gain access to a slider that lets you adjust the amount of enhancement that you want to apply. The software won’t let you adjust the changes individually. For example, you can’t edit the exposure only. It does a pretty decent job at making the skies pop and fixing any exposure issues automatically.

Photolemur 3 also features a face and skin enhancer that fix your portrait photos instantly by smoothing skin and imperfections, enhancing eyes, and whitening teeth.

On the left-hand side of the bottom slider, you will notice icons that let you turn on or off the “EYES ENLARGEMENT” and the “FACE ENHANCEMENT”.

I didn’t particularly like what happened to the hair of my model in this image. I would probably glide the slider a little to the left for portrait photos.

Applying filters

The software has integrated filters you can apply to your images. The filters are very similar to the ones you find on apps like Instagram. Click on the circle at the bottom and get access to all the filter options. If you’re a fan of filters, these do the trick pretty well. The mono filter transforms your photos to black and white with commendable results.

Exporting options

Once you’ve finished editing your photos, you can export them to your computer, upload them on various social media sites, or attach them directly to an email.

Standalone and Plug-in

You can use Photolemur 3 as a standalone app on your computer, and you can also add it as a plugin for Photoshop and Lightroom. Upon initial installation, you are prompted to add the plugin if you wish to do so.

Who it’s for

Photolemur 3 is a great tool for beginner or amateur photographers who want to easily and quickly enhance their photos. It does what it claims and has made photo enhancing stress-free. However, I don’t think that professional photographers will use this software on a regular basis because of its limitations.

It’s ideal for landscape photographers because of the sky enhancer and also for portrait photography. It’s super easy to set-up and get going. You can get your photos edited in a few minutes with a few simple clicks.

What it doesn’t do

If you have Photoshop or Lightroom knowledge and are accustomed to editing your photos manually, you will find Photolemur 3 restrictive. If you don’t like the way the software adjusted your exposure and colors, there is no way to go in deeper to adjust these results individually.

That said, it does a pretty good job automatically.

The program makes some sounds when it does certain actions that I’m not a fan of. Thankfully you can go to the settings drop-down menu and disable this feature.


I particularly like the way Photolemur 3 processes the skies to look better and how it corrects any exposure issues. However, I would go a little easy on the face enhancement features so that portraits don’t look over-edited.

You can give Photolemur 3 an unlimited free trial before you purchase it. Download the free limited version from their website and test it out for yourself. The free version adds a watermark and has other restrictions like no batch processing and limited export size.

This type of technology is the future of photo editing, and we will be seeing more algorithms and artificial intelligence applied to photography software and apps. I’m all for professional results done in a less time-consuming way. More time to have fun shooting!

Have you used Photolemur 3? What are your thoughts?

The post Review: Photolemur 3 Photo Enhancer Software appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Sandra Roussy.

How to Use the Lightroom Transform Tool

The post How to Use the Lightroom Transform Tool appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Erin Fitzgibbon.

Lightroom has so many great tools we all use to edit our photographs. No wonder it’s an essential editing program for just about every photographer. Let’s take a look at the Transform Tool.

The Transform Tool can be used to adjust the perspective in your images. Most know that the tool is useful for straightening horizons or fixing those pesky leaning buildings, but it can do a lot more than that. The Transform Tool can help you to adjust other types of photographs. It has a convenient application, but it can also be used to edit your images to create more dramatic looks. You can also use it to help you create interesting artistic interpretations of your shots.

I used the transform tool to help me edit this image. I made several small adjustments to align the perspective with my creative vision.

Let’s start with the individual components of the transform tool before progressing to using them in more creative ways towards the end of the article.

The Auto Function

The Transform Tool comes with an automatic option. In this case, it’s pretty simple. Push the Auto button and let Lightroom make all the adjustments to your image. For those who are unfamiliar with how to use the other features of the Transform Tool this may be the simplest option. The problem is that Auto doesn’t always do the best job of adjusting your images. I find that if the adjustment is straightforward like straightening a horizon, then auto works well. However, it has difficulty adjusting the more complex perspective issues. This is meant to be a quick and dirty type of adjustment for minor perspective issues.

Here’s an example of the Auto tool in use on Tintern Abbey.

Vertical adjustments

The Vertical Tool automatically analyzes and then adjusts the vertical lines within your photograph. This type of adjustment is particularly useful if you’re trying to fix a leaning building or leaning trees in your landscape because you’re using a wide-angle lens. At the same time, you will find that automatic fixes don’t always work correctly and that Lightroom may over-adjust the verticals and give you something that doesn’t look quite right. So this may not be your best option for using the Transform tool.

In this case, the vertical tool didn’t do a very good job of adjusting the perspective.

Level Adjustments

The Level Tool automatically adjusts your horizontal lines. This tool seems to work reasonably well for most landscape shots. Issues with the Level Tool may arise when you are working with a horizon line along with diagonal lines. Sometimes this combination of lines fools the software. Lightroom may choose to adjust the diagonal lines and skew the rest of the image. Keep this in mind when using the automatic adjustment.

I find the level tool works great for landscape images but in this case, it needs manual adjustments.

Full Adjustments

The Full Adjustment option takes into account all vertical and horizontal lines plus the features of the auto option. This particular tool doesn’t adjust my images well. It tends to overcompensate. This tool rarely creates a look I want to use for my photographs. That doesn’t mean it won’t work for you; however, be aware that it tends to be aggressive.

Some may like the adjustments that a full perspective tool creates. If you do, remember to leave a lot of room around your subject. As you can see here, the crop that needs to occur is quite severe.

The Guided Adjustment option

The Guided Tool is probably the best way to adjust perspective within your images. The problem with the other options is that Lightroom chooses which vertical and horizontal lines it uses to adjust perspective. The reality is that these may not be the lines that need adjusting. This is where the Guided Tool comes into practice. As the editor of your work, you know which lines need straightening so you can guide Lightroom to adjust the proper verticals or horizontals. It’s still a quick and easy tool to use. You are guiding Lightroom by telling it where to focus its efforts.

The tool is straightforward to use. Just choose the line you wish to adjust and then use your mouse to define the line for Lightroom. Once two lines have been selected, Lightroom automatically adjusts your image based on your guidelines.

In this case, the Guided Tool straightens the lines I highlight but the required crop is rather extreme.

The guided tool worked really well with this simple adjustment.

Using the sliders

You can always adjust your images using the Manual Sliders located below the automatic options. Sometimes it works very well to use the Guided tool and then to make minor manual adjustments to the image as well.

Just move the sliders to adjust your work for the desired look. Each slider will adjust a different aspect of the image.

Level – tilts the image and creates an angle of sorts

Vertical – adjusts the image by tilting either forwards or to the back
Rotate – twists the image on an access point (adjusting horizon lines for the most part)
Aspect – stretches the image horizontally or compresses it horizontally
Scale – allows you to zoom in closer or further out on an image
X offset – moves the image on the x-axis to the left or right.
Y offset – move the image on the y-axis up or down.

Used on their own you may find that these sliders do not achieve much. However, when used in combination and subtle amounts, you can easily adjust the sliders to obtain the perspective you see in your mind’s eye.

In this screenshot, you can see how the aspect slider works to adjust an image.

Using the Transform Tool creatively

You can use the Transform Tool to help you adjust perspective to create more drama within an image. You can also use it to completely change the perspective of an image for a creative interpretation of the subject you originally photographed.

In the case of the following image, I made the adjustments to create something that highlighted the foreground more, thus drawing the viewers eyes towards that area.

I used the vertical slider to adjust the image so the foreground plays a bigger role in the image.

Here’s the completed photograph exported from Lightroom:

Compare this to the original perspective of the shot.

In the image below the foreground plays a less important role in the image. You can use the Transform Tool to help you make creative decisions about your photographs.

This is the unedited jpeg of the file above. Consider how the change of perspective affects the visual nature of the image.

It’s a versatile tool

You can use the Transform Tool in very subtle ways to adjust perspective. It can either be used to make an image seem more realistic and more accurate to our understanding of the way the landscape looks in reality or can be used to make some more open to interpretation. Remember, there are lots of options out there when editing work.

Be creative. Give the transform tool a whirl and see what you can do with it. You may surprise yourself and create something extraordinary.

I’ve included a few more photos edited using the Transform Tool to illustrate how you can use it both functionally and creatively.

The goal was to make the foreground more important in this photograph.

My goal was to capture my friend as she took photos of the incoming waves on the beach in Borth, Wales.

The post How to Use the Lightroom Transform Tool appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Erin Fitzgibbon.

Create a Backup Today! Here is Why and How

The post Create a Backup Today! Here is Why and How appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Ian Johnson.

Are your files protected?

Insurance policies. We deal in them every day – car, home, life, renters, medical and more. The list goes on and on, but what are you doing to ensure your photos are insured against loss? The loss comes in many ways entirely out of your control – hardware failure, theft, or calamity. This article is your wake up call to consistently backup your work.

I am writing it because 5 months ago when my house burned I had my wake-up call. Don’t worry, my wife and I are fine, and there was no loss of life – only property. Why am I telling you this very personal bit of my life? Simple. Catastrophe can come in any form and at any time. Learn from my mistakes and back up as soon as you complete this article.

Fire, House, Pictures, Backup

This picture of my house burning is meant to convey reality. Calamity can happen at any time. Do you have a backup solution to protect your files in the face of disaster?

Let me take you back to six months ago because it is likely my backup strategy may reflect your own. I am a pretty serious photographer and create much content of professional and family-related photos.  I had a 24tb server backing up my files with redundancy. From the server, I kept an off-site backup of files by copying to a hard drive and then storing it. As I’ll highlight later, that way of doing a backup is adequate as long as you stay up on it.

Unfortunately, I had not completed an offsite backup for two years! Consequently, ALL of my professional work and memories during that time were vulnerable as my living room went up in flames and the water from fire hoses quenched them. One of the first things I thought when I arrived to see my house spurting 20-foot flames from the roof was, “what about my server?”

Backup, Failure

Your computer is fragile, but yet we trust them to hold a lot of incredibly important information. Whether its fire, theft, water, or failure, be sure your backup solution protects you. Establish one today!

Backup strategies

It may seem intimidating to back up your work, but thanks to the advances of high-capacity, affordable hard drives there has never been an easier time to do it! Once you have a system in place it becomes even easier. Digital Photography School has published several articles on the subject and most advocate for the “3-2-1” strategy.

This means :

3: Have three copies of your data.

2: Keep them in two separate places.

1: At least one must be offsite.

If this sounds like it is too hard, fear not, and do not tune out yet! I’ll outline three strategies to back up your work in easy to understand ways that serve both beginner and professional photographers. To help show off the strategies I’ve created some schematics (hopefully entertaining and fun ones) to show you how each system works.

Back up to a hard drive

Hard drives are cheap. A quick search shows you can purchase a 6TB (terabyte) hard drive for $125! Before you think to yourself “I can’t afford $125,” consider it is cheaper than any insurance policy you currently pay for, and if your photos are like my photos, it is an insurance policy protecting your memories and business.

Purchasing and rotating two hard drives consistently allows you to keep a backup of your work current. You may want to consult these guidelines for purchasing a hard drive.

Most major hard drive brands come with built-in software to automatically backup your files for you. This makes it incredibly convenient to back up your work. You can use two hard drives (“#1” and “#2) to  adhere to the 3-2-1 rule by:

  • keeping a copy of your files on your computer
  • using the hard drive’s software to back up to hard drive #1
  • taking #1 offsite to a place such as your office or your extended family’s house
  • setting up a new backup on #2
  • rotating hardrives #1 and #2 periodically. Your backup software will update the files each time you re-attach the hard drive. I recommend doing this at least every two weeks, but you can choose an interval that works for you. Once you choose an interval set up a repeating reminder for yourself on your phone.
Backup, Hardrive, shematic

Use these easy steps to establish a back-up system using two hard drives.

This solution is your cheapest option and requires the most work on your part. As long as you set up the backup using your hard drive’s software, it will automatically backup your files to hard drives #1 and #2 as you rotate them on and off-site. This system will FAIL if you do not adhere to rotating the hard drives consistently!

Backup to the cloud

Cloud services have become relatively cheap (about $100/year or less) and perform backups of your images with the caveat that you have a regular internet connection. Most cloud services can back up local files and files on attached external hard drives. You can adhere to the 3-2-1 rule by:

  • Keeping a local copy of files on your computer
  • Using the backup service provided by the hard drive to back up to a hard drive
  • Using a cloud service to back up the hard drive
  • Storing a hard drive off site
Backup, cloud, pictures, computer

Use this simple system to backup your files to a hard drive and to the cloud.

This is a pretty good option depending on how much content you are creating. If you are generating hundreds of gigabytes of content regularly or if you live in an area of slow internet this may not be feasible for you. Cloud services work best if the file structure doesn’t change. Moving files to new folders create a duplicate and the need to upload more data to the cloud. This option is middle-of-the-road for the expense. It is necessary to pay for a hard drive (or two) and a cloud service for a total of ~$300 annually.

Maintain a server

Servers (refer to NAS Servers) are arrays of hard drive that give you redundancy in case of hard drive failure. Housing all of your images on a server and backing them up from there is a great way to establish a relatively low-maintenance backup of your files. To adhere to the 3-2-1 rule:

  • Have a copy of your images on a server
  • Backup the server to the cloud, a hard drive for off-site storage, or mirror the server to an offsite storage site.
Backup, solutions, nas, hard drive, cloud

Having a server may seem complex, but can be the backbone of the rest of your backup system. This is the system I advocate for your if you are able to afford it!

This is the most expensive solution, and will likely cost $1,000 or more to set up. However, that cost becomes distributed over several years since you no longer need to purchase several individual hard drives. This system is overall the most reliable and requires the least amount of work on your part once set up.

Backup now!

I hope my story of personal loss is compelling enough for you to start researching backup solutions immediately. Do you have a story of image loss you are comfortable sharing? Leave it below to add to the mounting evidence of the need for future readers. My story has a surprising ending because my server survived and I was able to recover the files. There is almost no chance I’ll ever be that lucky again. As I always say, “Pixels are cheap.” I say that at the end of all of my articles. However, just because they are cheap, doesn’t mean they are not emotionally or economically valuable. Please back your pixels up today!

The post Create a Backup Today! Here is Why and How appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Ian Johnson.

Using Color Temperature in Black and White Conversions

The post Using Color Temperature in Black and White Conversions appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Adam Welch.

Digital photography has opened up enormous possibilities for black and white photography. The ability to first shoot in color and then convert the image to black and white offers photographers a way to express themselves in ways that reach beyond the influence of color. Well, for the most part.

You see, advanced black and white conversions take advantage of the different luminance values present in our RAW files so that we can individually manipulate those values after we have converted the color image to black and white. Usually, this is done via the HSL (BW) Panel in Lightroom or other processing software.


But there is one ingredient of the black and white pie that gets constantly overlooked during the average photographers (let’s pretend) black and white conversion process; color temperature. I know, the operative word here is COLOR and black and white photos…you know…don’t really have a lot of color.

In this article, we’re going to take a cruise aimed at getting a little closer to understanding how much of a role color temperature plays in our digital black and white conversions. We’ll look at how we can leverage this constantly neglected aspect of digital black and white photography so that we have many more opportunities to make even more impressive monochromatic images.

I also intend to make at least one black and white related pun before the end.

Let’s get started!

A quick refresher on color temperature

When we talk about color temperature, we are referring to the hue-based Kelvin scale (there’s a temperature-based one too) which measures the hue of color and thus relates to white balance; which is the theoretical absence of color cast within an image. More blue or “cool” colors have a higher Kelvin number, and more red or “warmer” colors have a lower Kelvin number.

“Adam…but wait! Most image processing software shows lower Kelvin color temperatures as blue and warmer colors as red!”

Yes, you are precisely correct. You paid excellent attention in science class!


In short, the color temperature sliders in most photo editors are in fact reversed from the true Kelvin scale. From what I’ve gathered, this inversion is due to the approach that white balance adjustments in digital photography are based on “compensation” rather than direct cooling or warming of colors. This means that if a photo is “cool” out of the camera, we will tell the software to “warm it up” by increasing the Kelvin value to bring the white balance closer to the original scene. Thereby, making the photo perceptibly warmer.

Yeah, it’s confusing.

Luckily, we don’t have to worry about any of that.

For our purposes, we are just concerned with how the cool or warm the colors are within the image regardless of actual numeric Kelvin temperature.

Thank goodness for that.

How color temperature affects black and white photos

The remainder of this article assumes that you are shooting in RAW format or at the very least in color JPEG.

We need the color information from the image file to exploit the impact of color temperature on luminance values after the black and white conversion. This means it is imperative that you do not shoot in a dedicated monochromatic mode.

Got it? Good.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way it’s time to experiment.

Let’s first convert an image to black and white in Lightroom Classic CC and see what happens when we begin to adjust the color temperature. I just happen to have a photo ready to go right here. It is a RAW file with a relatively well-balanced color temperature that I converted to black and white.


Color temperature slider set to 5050K in Lightroom

First, let’s slide the color temperature slider entirely to the left and “cool” the image.


Color temperature slider at 2000K in Lightroom

Next, we’ll move the color temperature slider all the way to the right to “warm” the image.


Color temperature slider set to 50000K in Lightroom

From this, we can see that there are some readily apparent changes in contrast based solely on the adjustments in color temperature.

So, what exactly is happening here?

Let me show you.

Have a look at the original histogram with conventional white balance:


HIstogram with normal white balance

Now with a much cooler color temperature…


Histogram at 2000K

And lastly, with warmer color temperature.


Histogram at 50000K

When we cool down the image we are causing the colors to become more blue, purple and magenta in hue; hence the shift in the histogram and resulting contrast change. The same is true for the warmer color temperature where the photo becomes more red, orange and yellow.

What we are doing is setting a bias towards certain colors which in turn augments their luminosity when converted to black and white. The benefit here is that these drastic changes in color temperature allow us to make some impressive adjustments to the luminance values beyond what might usually be possible once you have converted it to black and white.

Practical applications

Advanced digital black and white conversions rely heavily on specific adjustments in luminance values based on color information contained within the image file. If we increase the amount of a particular color within an image, we then have more latitude in manipulating the brightness values of that color in relation to the other colors within the photo.

Here are three separate versions of the Golden Gate Bridge photo from earlier. The first photo was processed using the HSL/BW Panel to brighten the bridge and darken the sky.


Next, I went to work on the 2000K version from earlier. Seeing as the blue tones had skyrocketed, I was able to achieve some interesting results.


Last but not least is the warm-toned version which clocked in at 50000K. Which if you recall, would make the photo cooler instead of warmer if we were operating in the world. However, we’re not. This is photography.


These extreme swings in color temperature are useful almost exclusively in the domain of black and white digital photography. Outside of that, the only result will be gruesomely unappealing white balance.


I mean really unappealing (caption)


Just look at it…terrible.

Ok, I’ll admit that maybe I low-key like that last one.

Final thoughts on color temperature and black and white photos

We can get caught up with the idea that there are certain “rules” which must always be adhered to when we process our photos.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

While it’s true that color temperature plays an important role in rendering colors within your image accurately, we must remember that we are still allowed to paint outside the lines whenever we choose. Perhaps the benefit of this free-thinking mentality is no more apparent than when it comes to working with our black and white photos.

Making drastic changes to the white balance of your black and white images is not only allowed, but it can make for some exciting outcomes and boost your creative thinking.

Even though your mind may not immediately jump to color when you think of black and white photography, the fact remains that even though we may not see color within a photo, the inherent color information remains (as long as you shoot RAW) and that information is still wholly adjustable, including white balance. The role color temperature plays in processing your photographs is never black and white. See, I told you I would work that pun in there somewhere.

Experimenting with some interesting black and white conversions using color temperature? As always, we’d love to see what you’ve been up to, so feel free to post your photos in the comments below!

The post Using Color Temperature in Black and White Conversions appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Adam Welch.

How to Create Simulated Light Leaks Using Lightroom

The post How to Create Simulated Light Leaks Using Lightroom appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Adam Welch.

Recently, we discussed how easy (and cool) it can be to reproduce the basic looks of vintage film stocks with our digital photographs. Sure, this style is not for everyone, but it’s undeniable that the “film look” has made a resurgence in recent years. There’s an especially organic feel to a photograph that has muted tones and funky contrasts which carries an inherent interest that makes people look twice. To go a step further, if you truly want to push the envelope of your digital vintage film simulations, you can go as far as to introduce something which is generally considered to be the sworn enemy of photographers everywhere: light leaks. I know, I know…the horror, right?


Light leaks

Light leaks are less of a problem in digital photography and seldom occur. Still, it can happen. Unwanted light rays can weasel their way into your photos through damaged camera bodies or poor lens fitment in digital and analog cameras alike.

However, when shooting with film the incidence of light leaks skyrocket. Causes range from accidental openings of the camera back to damaged film canisters and general mishandling of the film either before or during processing.


Why make an intentional mistake?

Now, you might be wondering ‘why, oh why, might we want to simulate light leaks in our digital photographs if they are so loathed and avoided in general photography?’ The answer to that lies in the very nature of light leaks themselves; they add uniqueness.

While technically flawed, light leaks can impart a vibe of beautiful realism to a photograph. Because the chances of light leaks increase with the age of a film, it makes perfect sense to learn how to introduce them alongside your digital vintage film simulations in Adobe Lightroom Classic CC.


Don’t get me wrong; light leaks are not practical or even warranted for every one of your vintage film simulations. That said, a judicially placed light leak on the right photo can boost it’s aesthetic appeal tremendously. What’s more, being able to create digital light leaks at will is a handy skill to have in your mental post-processing tool kit.

How to make a Light Leak

The cause of light leaks is the intrusion of light of various intensities interacting with the film. To reproduce this effect digitally in Lightroom we’ll make use of some cleverly simple local adjustments. The graduated and radial filters are the primary local adjustment tools we’ll use for our light leak simulations.


We’ll also use the local adjustment brush – but not in the way you might think. I’ll show you what I mean in just a second.

To get started, we’ll use a photo I have already processed using some of my vintage film presets. It has a faded vibe and a mellow tone. This should work well with our light leak simulations. It’s always a good practice to add your light leaks AFTER you have completed processing your photo.


1. Deciding where to place your light leaks

There are no rules when it comes to creating your light leak simulations but if you’re going for realism remember that your light leaks should look as if they are – well – caused by light leaking onto the film.

Consider where the light might be intruding from when determining where they appear. Is there a crack in the camera housing? Was there a pinhole in the film canister? Perhaps the dark slide accidentally slid back just a tiny bit in the film holder?

For our particular example, we’ll be going for a sort of “first frame” light leak. This simulates a 35mm frame having been exposed to light on one of the first sections of the film while being loaded into the camera. Virtually all 35mm cameras wind the film from the spool to the spindle from left to right, so the light leak will always appear at the right side of the frame. So, that’s exactly where we’re going to put our digital light leak simulation.


2. The Graduated Filter

We’ll use a single graduated filter to produce the light leak. Create the filter and make it wide enough to rotate easily.

It doesn’t matter where it is created on the photo because we will re-position it after we’ve added the adjustments.

For most photos, the core effect is caused but the Exposure and Whites sliders. Begin by increasing the Exposure slider considerably until you lose detail in the highlight areas of the image.


Depending on the overall brightness of your photo even +100 exposure increase might not be adequate. If this is the case, make use of the Whites slider to increase the intensity of the leak. We can always dial back the brightness after the next step.

3. Placing and feathering the Graduated Filter

Now it’s time to re-position the graduated filter and compress it to the appropriate feathering.

Grab the center point and pull the filter to the right of the photo. A good rule of thumb is to place the far edge of the filter even with the edge of the frame.

Next, click and drag the left side of the filter to reduce the feathering. This is when the light leak will begin to really look like a light leak.

The feathering is important in reproducing the circumstances of the particular light leak effect you’re after.

In our case, the light would have interacted with our film up to the point where it was shielded by the film canister. Modern 35mm canisters feature felt lining on the mouth of the canister where the film enters. This will produce a very slight feathering effect in the light leak. So we will reflect this minute amount of feathering with our simulation.


4. Adding fine adjustments

With our light leak placed we can now go to work applying some fine adjustments. Anything is possible! Adjust the intensity of the leak by increasing or decreasing the Exposure and Whites sliders or amplify the color (or take it away) using the Saturation slider. You can even add in custom colors using the color swatch selector. For our example, we’ll add in some yellow.


What a beautiful mistake we’ve made! But we’re not finished yet.

5. The Adjustment Brush

You’ll recall earlier I mentioned we would use the adjustment brush tool but not actually to create the leaks. Instead, we will make use of the Adjustment Brush to ERASE areas of our light leaks. That way, we can selectively control how they appear with more precision.

In our example, we’ll dial back the light in the area of the sky to make it flow more naturally with the rest of the adjustment.


Now that we’ve placed our primary light leak let’s kick things up a notch by adding in some additional ones. Remember that less is usually more when it comes to light leaks. But since we’re having fun, let’s pretend our camera was having a terrible day.

6. Adding extra light leaks with the Radial Filter

Our next light leak will simulate an intrusion at one of the ends of our film canister. Leaks of this type generally manifest themselves at the edges of the film around the sprocket holes. Depending on the severity, the leak bleeds down towards the midline of the film. We’ll pull off this effect using the radial filter tool with the same slider adjustments we used earlier. Again, create the filter anywhere you please in the beginning and then re-position.


Drag the center point of the filter to the top edge of the photo being careful to leave the point itself within reach for easier re-positioning. Once you roughly position the filter, pull the bottom of it downward (or upward depending on position) until it reaches the desired location.


Since this type of leak usually occurs very close to the film, they will exhibit more clearly defined edges which means we’ll use less feathering of the filter.

Of course, this is entirely a judgment call so feel free to adjust the feathering to suit your taste. Add in more radial filters to complete the effect by right-clicking the center point and selecting ‘Duplicate.’


Congratulations! We’re finished making our light leak simulations and we did it all right inside of Lightroom Classic CC using a few simple tools that anyone can use.


But wait, there’s more….

Saving your light leaks as Local Adjustment Presets

As you’ve seen, most light leaks are incredibly easy to make once you understand the basic concepts involved with the effect. Still, it’s a good idea to save yourself some time by saving your favorite light leak simulations as Local Adjustment Presets. That way, you don’t need to create each one anew every time you’re feeling like adding in a leak or two.

Saving your light leaks as presets is as simple as a couple of mouse clicks.

First, select the control point of the filter you wish to save as a preset. Once the filter is active, click the ‘Custom’ drop-down arrow at the top of the filter adjustment section.


Next, select ‘Save Current Settings as New Preset’ from the bottom of the menu.


It’s a good idea to name your preset something that will help you know exactly what effect it produces. In our case, I’ll name this one “Tina”.

Just kidding.

We’ll go with “35mm Canister Leak-Yellow”.


Your new light leak preset will then be available from the local adjustment presets list.

Final thoughts on Leaking Light…

When you think about it, introducing simulated light leaks to your photos is a very funny thing to do. We are purposefully introducing problems to a photograph. With that being said, sometimes beauty can in fact lie within the very flaws we might otherwise avoid. Depending on the type of photograph and the final aesthetic you’re going for, adding in some judicious light leak simulations to your digital photographs can go a long way to enhance their “vintage feel”.

Have you tried your hand at simulating your own light leaks? Feel free to share your work in the comments!

And if you want to learn more about how to add a vintage film look to your photos be sure to check out my other article The Basics of Simulating Vintage Film in Lightroom.

The post How to Create Simulated Light Leaks Using Lightroom appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Adam Welch.

Seven Steps for Post-Processing a Pure White Background

The post Seven Steps for Post-Processing a Pure White Background appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Kevin Landwer-Johan.

Photographs with clean, white backgrounds are extremely popular with

  • Stock agencies
  • Amazon
  • Graphic Designers
  • Magazines and websites
Seven Steps for Post Processing a Pure White Background Three Mangoes in a Bowl

The original background with a white border around it to clearly illustrate the contrast between pure white and off white

Producing pure white backgrounds is imperative. A background that’s not quite white looks terrible on a white page.

In this article, I will walk you through one method of post-processing I use to isolate subjects and give them a white background.

Choosing your photos carefully

Some photos are far more difficult to work with than others when you want a white background.

Any subject that’s fuzzy or hairy will be problematic. As will any blurred subject. Whether it’s focus or motion blur, you will have difficulty in obtaining a good clean transition with the background.

Smooth, clean edges are the easiest to work with. So if you want to sell wigs on Amazon, you are in for a tough time. It’s better to make sure you have a pure white background that requires no post processing with such subjects.

Seven Steps for Post Processing a Pure White Background Chicken Nerd


Step # 1

Choose your subject and photograph it against a clean, contrasting background. If the background is too busy, it will make isolating on white more difficult.

Keep your subject a good distance from the background. Use an aperture setting that keeps all your subject in focus, but the background is out of focus.

If your subject happens to be moving, make sure to choose a fast enough shutter speed to stop the motion. Making sure your subject is sharp will make post-processing much more straightforward.

Step # 2

Open your file in Photoshop. Make sure it’s the highest resolution jpeg file it can be. Working with low-resolution images is more challenging, but larger ones will slow your computer down.

You need to find a balance here. If you start working through these post-processing steps and find your computer is not handling it, downsize your photo and start again.

Choose the Select and Mask tool. You’ll find this in the Select Menu at the top of your window. Change the View Mode to an option that allows you to see your changes easily. I prefer the Overlay Mode.

Seven Steps for Post Processing a Pure White Background Select and Mask Menu

Choose the Select and Mask option from the drop-down menu.

Step # 3

With the Quick Selection tool, draw around the inside of your subject. Do this slowly, so Photoshop has time to render your action.

Pay careful attention to the areas you are selecting. You do not want to have any part of the background selected. If parts of the background are selected, paint over them with the Refine Edge brush.

Zoom in so you can see what you’re working on more clearly.

Seven Steps for Post Processing a Pure White Background Overlay Mode

Step # 4

When you’re all done and are satisfied your subject is masked, it’s time to output again to the main window in Photoshop.

Select New Layer with Layer Mask from the Output options and click OK.

Step # 5

Add a white background by clicking on the New Fill or Adjustment Layer icon at the bottom of the Layers Panel. Choose Solid Color and set it to pure white.

Step # 6

Check around the edges of your subject. Can you see any of the old background?

If you can, select the mask on your main layer in the Layers Panel. Choose the Brush tool and make the color Black.

Seven Steps for Post Processing a Pure White Background Mask Icon

Make sure the mask is selected.

Paint carefully over the areas where you can still see the old background. You may need to lower the opacity of the brush and adjust the feathering to achieve the best results.

If you have not done this before it can be challenging. However, don’t worry, if you erase parts of your subject, switch the brush color to white and paint back over them. They will re-appear.

There are various other methods and tools for erasing unwanted backgrounds. This is the best way I have found for images which are not too complicated.

Seven Steps for Post Processing a Pure White Background Clean Edges

Step # 7

Crop out any extra white space and save your new photo with your subject isolated on white.

Seven Steps for Post Processing a Pure White Background Clean White Background



This is one way to achieve a white background. As with most post-processing procedures, there is more than one sequence of steps which will provide an acceptable result.

Practice and experiment to find the workflow which works best for you.

Are you experienced in creating clean white backgrounds using other methods? Do you have any tips to share? Please share them in the comments section below.

The post Seven Steps for Post-Processing a Pure White Background appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Kevin Landwer-Johan.

How to Use Textures to Create Compelling Photographs

The post How to Use Textures to Create Compelling Photographs appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Glenn Harper.

Adding textures to photos is a fun way of creating new pictures. In some respects, it’s not very different to printing your photos onto textured paper or choosing frames for them (or both), except the images needn’t leave your computer. You can do this with photos you’ve already taken, though often it’s best to create them with this treatment in mind.

Adding textured backgrounds to photos

Cracked earth photo in the background.

Choosing your photos

You can add textures to almost any type of picture, but this method works well with simple photos where there isn’t a lot of fussy detail. Ideally, you need a sizeable single-tone area that allows the background to come through. Otherwise, you can use a simple texture with a complex photo – the important thing is that the two photos do not fight.

Adding textured backgrounds to photos

A harmless subject, despite appearances.

You can apply this treatment to portraits, landscapes, still lifes, or just about any genre. With still life, you’re at a particular advantage because you can take very simple pictures of subjects against plain backgrounds and then attempt to create something interesting later with a textured background.

Adding textured backgrounds to photos

Melding photos together is not a purist’s approach to photography, but you need only ask yourself one question: do you like the result? Adding a texture to a background is like putting two pieces of a jigsaw puzzle together. Do the two parts suit each other? A beneficial side effect of creating these pictures is that you’ll start noticing and shooting all kinds of textures to use with your photos.

Adding textured backgrounds to photos

Splodges of paint in the background.

Finding and photographing textures

You can create your own backgrounds quite easily by photographing textures around the home. For instance, try capturing textured paper, sandpaper, fences, walls, wood grain, baking trays, tiles, canvas, painted surfaces, rusting surfaces or concrete. Mid-tone textures with contrasting colors or details tend to work better than monotonous dark or bright surfaces.

Adding textured backgrounds to photos

Silhouetted trees against a blue painted background.

Try screwing up pieces of paper and then flattening them out for backgrounds. You can even use a scanner for paper backgrounds, which has the advantage of holding them flat while still recording the folds and creases.

Adding textured backgrounds to photos

The same silhouetted trees against brown paper. I wanted to avoid distracting contrast in the paper, so the processing holds off on highlights.

If you want to try this technique and don’t have any texture photographs in your library, you can always grab some to practice with from free photo websites (e.g. https://www.freeimages.com).

Adding textured backgrounds to photos

A French WW1 Croix de Guerre medal, originally shot against a white card background.

Another possibility is to use the in-built textures offered within image editing programs. Photoshop CC has this to a limited extent. There’s also a good textures section in ON1 Effects (standalone or filter plugin) that offers a lot of choice.

Adding textured backgrounds to photos

In Photoshop CC you can reveal the “Texture” filter under preferences. It only works on 8-bit images. This is the Canvas texture.

Photoshop Technique (or similar)

To blend textures into backgrounds, you need an editing program that has layers and blending modes. The second usually comes with the first. In brief, you just need to drag one photo on top of the other and adjust the blending mode between the layers to suit. Sometimes you might need to tweak opacity.

Here’s a more precise workflow:

  1. Open the two images you intend to merge (i.e. subject and textured background).
  2. Ensure that the texture image is the same size as the main photo or slightly larger. If it is much larger (e.g. a full-sized file layered onto a web image), it will appear less sharp.
  3. Using the move tool in Photoshop, drag the texture image onto the main photo. This automatically creates a second layer (“Layer 1”).
  4. Try the various layer blending modes in your layers palette until you find one that suits the image. “Overlay” is one that often works well.
  5. Adjust opacity to taste. If you want to strengthen the effect rather than fade it, you can duplicate Layer 1.
  6. Merge the layers (Ctrl + E) or Flatten Image.

You can do this the other way round and drag the main image onto the texture, but then the opacity slider becomes less useful. You ideally want to be able to fade the texture effect rather than the main photo. Also, if the texture file is larger, having that one on top avoids the need to crop the image afterwards.

Adding textured backgrounds to photos

Using the Brush Tool

Another thing you can do with your textures is to selectively paint parts of the effect out of or into the picture. You might do this if, for instance, you want to create the illusion that an object within the photo is resting on a textured background without being part of it.

Adding textured backgrounds to photos

Using a ON1 Effects texture I’ve created henna-type markings on the hand and used the brush tool to remove the same pattern from the watch.

To do this, you need to create a layer mask on “Layer 1” (your texture photo). Then, making sure the brush foreground color is black – visible in the tools palette – you use the brush tool at 100% opacity to selectively paint the texture out. Hitting “X” lets you paint detail back in again if you get clumsy.

Alternatively, you can do the opposite and create a black layer mask, painting texture into the picture with a white brush.


I mentioned earlier choosing textures and photos that suit each other. So, what might that mean? Ultimately, you get to decide what goes well with what, but some textures intrinsically suit some subjects. For instance, old books generally go better with leather, paper or card textures than they do with a brick wall. Metallic objects might go well with rust or oxidation.

Adding textured backgrounds to photos

Another ON1 Effects texture (rice paper).

With human subjects, you might want to infer something else altogether, like cracks for old age or the passing of time. Be careful who you use that on! The bolder the texture is, generally the more limited it is in its potential. You can use paper and canvas textures on almost anything because of their photographic and artistic connection and their unobtrusiveness.

Express yourself

Any picture you produce on a computer rather than in camera will likely attract a degree of cynicism. That’s just the way photography is. But it’s not always healthy to be confined by your chosen craft and feel like you’re not doing anything new. Blending photos in Photoshop is creative, fun and even a little beneficial, since an eye for juxtaposition is a valid photographic skill.

Adding textured backgrounds to photos

Antique Vaseline pots against an old baking tray surface.

Get ready for the strange looks you’ll receive when you begin photographing plain walls and fences. Use a tripod for extra eccentricity ….

Feel free to share your creations in the comments section below.

The post How to Use Textures to Create Compelling Photographs appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Glenn Harper.

How to Edit and Retouch Images Using Capture One Pro

The post How to Edit and Retouch Images Using Capture One Pro appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Carl Spring.

Before and after split screen of edit

Whilst we all flock to Photoshop for our retouching, Capture One now has a lot of great tools. But is it possible to do a full image edit including retouching? More so, if it is, should you do it and avoid Photoshop altogether?

To find out, I closed Photoshop and settled myself down for a full edit using only Capture One Pro. Lets go through the process and see what I learnt.


Capture One’s built-in annotation tools make it easy to plan your retouching for your images. A variety of colors can easily be added to the image should you wish. I really like this tool. It allows you to make simple notes on screen. While it may look like I am practicing my abstract expressionism, I am actually highlighting what I want to improve. In this case, the red is for retouching and yellow is for exposure issues. I love this tool! So far so good.

The annotate tool is great for making notes before you start the edit.

Colour balance

When the image comes into Capture One, the first thing is to get a good neutral color balance. I always start by letting Capture One get me into the ballpark via the Auto tool in White Balance. While not perfect, it gives a good starting point.  I then tweak the color to taste. In most cases, it is only a small tweak from the auto white balance to get a starting point I am happy with.


Continuing with the basics, next up is exposure. It always pays to get as close as you can in-camera, and this case required very little. For this image, I pushed up the exposure just under 0.5 stops and added a slight amount of contrast and saturation to my taste. All that was left was a slight highlight recovery to take away the worst of the hot spots. The worst highlights will be taken care of in the next step (and first layer) Luma masking.

Layer One: Luma Mask

New in Capture One 12 is Luma masking. I love this tool! It is such a great time saver for masking highlights. I use it here to mask out the highest highlights in the image and then use the High Dynamic Range sliders to pull back the highlights. Subtly is the key here. I only want to take the harshness out of the bright spots.

An image showing the luma mask in Capture One Pro 12

Possibly my favourite tool in Capture One 12. The Luma mask

Layer two (and three and four): Blemish Retouching

Trying to do any amount of blemish retouching in Capture One soon tells you that it wasn’t designed for this task. The system is clunky. You sample using the alt key (the same way as Photoshop); however, you cannot resample a different area on the same layer. Instead, you need to create a new layer and a new sample. I ended up using 3 layers merely to do basic spot removal (and this wasn’t even going as far as I would in Photoshop). Capture One isn’t effective for any serious blemish removal. I tried this process out on another image to see if it fared better, but it was worse. It got to the point where I just gave up. Yes, it works for simple items, but in the future, blemishes will be worked on in Photoshop only.

Layer five: Skin smoothing

The Skin Smoothing tool is a super-great way to improve skin with a simple mask and a couple of sliders. I use this tool all the time when editing wedding photography. It gives a great effect with such little effort.

The first step is to create a mask using a new layer and the Brush tool. Make sure you leave out areas of detail, such as the eyes and lips. You can then refine the mask to get it more accurate. I tend to use a number between 100-150 for most situations. After this, I go back in with the brush and erase tools until I am happy with the mask. A little tip here is to change the mask color from the default of red when working with people. It just makes the mask stand out more against the skin.

Next, the special sauce. A.K.A The Clarity tool. Just go to the clarity section, choose Natural as the clarity type and slide the numbers into the negatives. I generally find the sweet spot for this technique to be between -60 to -70. Much more than this and it can become a little fake. It comes down to the image you are working on. Simply adjust the sliders until you are happy with the result.

This on its own has a massive difference on the image, but when you add in the Color Editor tool, it takes this to another level.

Layer five continued: Skin Colour

The ability to work with color so precisely is one of Capture One’s greatest strengths. Editing skin tone is a great way to make your model’s skin glow. You can find this tool located in the Color Editor section. To start, click the icon and sample a skin tone. Next, you work with the two sections of this tool, Amount and Uniformity. The amount sliders are to get a skin tone that you are happy with. You then move onto the uniformity sliders to even out the skin tone through the whole face. As with much retouching, it is easy to go over the top. My tip for this is to do the edit, then take a break for a couple of minutes and come back. You instantly see if the image is over done and you can dial back accordingly.

We now have an even, soft skin tone through the image. This layer has made a huge difference to our image. It’s now time to finesse the details.

Capture One screen grab showing mask and colour tools

As you can see, the combination of the clarity slider and the Skin colour editor has really made a difference. The blue mask, maybe not so flattering.

Layer six: Teeth

The teeth need to be slightly whitened. This is as simple as a mask, followed by reducing the saturation. Again, don’t take it down to zero – it will look weird. Take it down just enough so that the teeth look naturally white. In this image, the sweet spot was -51. I then pushed the exposure just slightly to give a whiter smile. But again, as with all retouching, less is more.

Layer seven: Eyes

You sense a theme yet? I created another mask for the eyes. This time I added a very slight bump in exposure and some clarity to give them a subtle pop that was missing before.

Layer eight: The top

The red top the model wore in this shoot was just too bright. Using a combination of a mask and the color editor, I was able to easily reduce the red tone to something less overpowering.

Capture One screen shots showing before and after the colour editor

Toning down the red top means it is not quite as powerful in the image.

Layers nine and ten: The Hair

As the old saying goes; in for a penny, in for a pound. Having worked on the heal and clone layers for basic spot removal, this was going to be something that I was unsure would work. However, with a lot of trial and error, I produced something that was okay. Would I do it again? No. But, I did manage to improve the hair significantly from the previous state.

I ended up using a clone layer for one side of the hair and a heal layer for the other. Again, editing like this shows the limitations of Capture One for high-end retouching. However, after some trial and error, it did an okay job.

Layer eleven: Colour Grade

I generally don’t color grade images heavily – if at all. I usually prefer a natural look. But for this tutorial, I added a color grade. To do this, you add a new fill layer and add your grading there. This also allows you to reduce the effect by opacity or simply turn it on or off quickly to give different looks.

For this image, I decided to use Capture One’s excellent film grain emulations to add some soft grain. Next, I spent some time with the Color Balance tools pulling the shadows into the blues and highlights slightly into the orange. Finally, I used the levels to give a slightly faded look to the final color grade. That’s it. It’s done!

Final photo after retouching

The final edit.

What did I learn?

Well, it is possible to do a full retouch in Capture One. However, in reality, it is clunky and nowhere near as powerful as Photoshop.

The worst part of this was the blemish removals. It was painful to use for more than a couple of blemishes in an image. Also when trying this on another image to remove an eyelash, it was impossible to get it to give a pleasing result.

The standout of this edit is a process I use all the time: the Skin Smoothing and Skin Color combination. These two tools can quickly take care of many skin problems you may see. As a wedding photographer, this is a powerful tool. I can make a bride’s skin look glowing, quickly and easily without the need to round trip to Photoshop. To give you an example, check out this before and after using only this combination. You can achieve quick, simple and powerful results in just a couple of minutes.

A comparison of before and after skin reoutching in Capture One

Such a vast improvement only using two tools.


In general, the color tools in Capture One are amazing, and as well as working well on the skin, they were great for color grading the final image. My regular workflow for an image like this would be a trip to Photoshop for the skin, then back into Capture One for color grading.

Overall, Capture One did give a good final result, but at the cost of time and with some frustration.

Can Capture One Pro do a full edit with retouching? It can – kind of.

Would I recommend it? No.

It’s just not quite precise enough to be able to use regularly for this type of edit. That skin trick though is gold!

Do you use Capture One for your retouching? What are your experiences?


The post How to Edit and Retouch Images Using Capture One Pro appeared first on Digital Photography School. It was authored by Carl Spring.

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