Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Processing The RAW

Photographers in the digital age are inundated with software so Digital Photo Pro talked to the experts to get the ins and outs on two of the most popular RAW processing packages on the market

Crop In The RAW

A unique feature of Capture One Pro is the ability to crop the image in the RAW conversion. Click the Crop button on the toolbar and click and drag to draw a crop box on the image. You can refine the crop after it has been created by dragging any of the edges or corners of the crop box. The crop will be applied in the final RAW conversion automatically.

White Balance

By clicking on the Eyedropper button on the toolbar, you can click on an area of the preview image to apply an adjustment that will make that area neutral. Capture One Pro even provides some guidance as you decide on the best area to click on with the preview boxes at the top of the White Balance tab. As you move your mouse around on the screen, the preview on the left will indicate whether the area is an appropriate target for an automatic color adjustment. If it isn't, the message “If Selected (Poor)” will be displayed. When you move the eyedropper over an appropriate area, the message “If Selected (Good)” will be displayed. As you move the mouse, the preview on the right will show what that portion of the image will look like after adjustment.

While this guidance is helpful, for most professional photographers a visual approach is more appropriate. To do so, simply adjust the Color Temperature and Tint sliders. The Color Temperature slider allows you to designate what color temperature should be compensated for within the image. If you know what the temperature of the light source was you could certainly select it, but you can make adjustments via the slider based on a visual evaluation of the image—moving it to the left to produce a cooler image and to the right for a warmer image. The Tint slider then can be used to fine-tune the color effect.

In addition, Capture One Pro offers a Color Wheel control for color balance adjustments. Simply drag the target around on the color wheel to select a color to apply to the image to compensate for a colorcast or add a desired color influence. The color wheel actually is adjusting individual sliders for Hue and Saturation, which you also can adjust directly.


As with color adjustments, the program offers a variety of ways to apply tonal adjustments to your images. At the top of the Exposure tab are the Exposure Compensation and Contrast Compensation sliders, which can be thought of in general terms as brightness and contrast adjustments, respectively.

For more precise adjustments, the Levels control can be used to adjust the black point, white point and middle tone brightness values. A histogram display is overlayed on the levels adjustment, helping you make decisions about the specific adjustment to apply.

Taking it a step further, the Curves adjustment is accessible from a tab connected to the Levels control. This provides the same degree of control found with the Curves adjustment in Photoshop, offering excellent control over the fine details of tonal adjustments for your RAW captures.

To compensate for colors that aren't as vibrant because of tonal adjustments, such as when you're working to extract shadow detail, a Color Saturation slider can be found at the bottom of the Exposure tab.


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