As you may already know, I spend a good deal of time polishing my photos in post production and have taught retouching in Photoshop for some time. A few months ago I made the move from Lightroom to Capture One and haven't looked back. To test out it's power, I decided to see just how close I could get to my portrait retouching style using only Capture One Pro 8 and forgoing Photoshop entirely.
Since I've started using Capture One, it served primarily as a raw preparation tool and still completed all my retouching inside of Photoshop. As I began getting more and more familiar with it, along with the recent release of Version 8, I began to discover just how much can be done within it without having to resort to Photoshop at all. This tutorial is meant to give you a framework for more in-depth portrait retouching and show you just how powerful Capture One's local adjustment tools can be. I'll be spending a good deal of time on Dodging and Burning which utilizes the same theories and concepts I teach in my Fashion/Beauty Photography and Retouching tutorial, but we'll be applying them using the tools that exist in Capture One as opposed to the curves based approach I typically utilize in Photoshop. If you're brand new to Capture One, be sure to check out my Getting Started video to get you up to speed.
To summarize the overall workflow, I recommend the following progression of steps in order to reduce the computing power needed by Capture One:
- Perform basic exposure and high dynamic range adjustments
- Dodging and burning using local adjustments
- Additional local adjustments for detail recovery, eye brightening and sharpening, cloning or healing, color correction/matching, etc.
- Spot healing tool for any leftover blemishes
- White balance adjustments
- Color grading
- Vignetting, grain and other finishing tools
While Photoshop will remain as the tool of choice for high-end, polished results like those demanded in beauty photography, I was genuinely impressed with how far I was able to take a portrait retouch while still reaping the benefits of working entirely out of a raw file in a non-destructive manner. For portrait work such as this, Capture One will definitely form a greater part of my retouching workflow as it presents a number of benefits over Photoshop for certain types of work. The most notable benefits are those of portability, flexibility, and reusability. Unlike working in Photoshop, all the adjustments we make are maintained in a single metadata file that accompanies the original raw file. As a comparison, a similar 16bit Photoshop file will be in the realm of 200mb to 800mb, while the Capture One metadata files total around 12mb for this retouch. Another advantage is that all the color grading can quickly be replicated across a series of photos to achieve a similar result, with only the dodging and burning needing to be redone for each image.
In the above image I decided to experiment further with local adjustments and see how much detail I can pull out of the sky. To stylize it somewhat, I created a bit of lens flare with yet another local adjustment and a few simple sliders. Once you begin to look beyond the label of each slider and experiment with the tools, it opens up a startling number of possibilities and the power of the software really starts to shine through.
Although I'm not advocating that you abandon Photoshop entirely, what I do encourage is that you spend some time exploring the capabilities of Capture One - particularly the local adjustment tools - and get as much out of them as you can before diving into an external editor like Photoshop. It just might surprise you as much as it did me.
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