Sunday, January 8, 2017

Capture One 10 Black & White Conversion

Bryce Canyon
Sony A7rII
Old Factory
Sony A7rII
100-megapixel Phase One

I’ve been in love with black and white images since I first saw one and long before I had ever heard the name “Ansel Adams”.  The majority of the film I shot was black and white; I still remember the thrill of working in a darkroom watching as the image appeared on the paper.  Then came digital.  All digital is captured in color and while the early stages of black and white conversion was good I felt it never match true black and white film.  I’ve used Photoshop since the 2nd version and slowly went away from black and white.  A friend of mine introduced me to Nik Software Silver Efex Pro and I began once again experimenting with black and white conversion. 

All this of course was with 35mm cameras and once I bought my first medium format camera (Phase One P30+ digital back) I was then introduced to Capture One. The downside to Capture One in 2005 was that it didn’t support running on a 64-bit computer which I had at the time.  Any real work in Capture One didn’t begin until several years later when Capture One (owned by Phase One) began supporting 64-bit computers. 

I’m now on my sixth Phase One digital back and felt it time to get better acquainted with Capture One.  The 10th version of Capture One (C1) was released late 2016.  I waited until after the first of the year to upgrade as I wanted to make certain most if not all the bugs had been worked out as well as being a tax decision.  C1-10 has better engines supporting 100-megapixels digital backs as well more support for other camera manufactures; and it runs faster.

So how does all this tie into black and white conversion?  My first step in getting better acquainted was to visit the Phase One web site and watching videos addressing C1.  These videos gave me the idea that there just might be a better way to convert to black and white than the way I had been doing it. My normal workflow was to go to the top of the screen to Adjustments pulling down Styles, opening Built in Styles and using either BW or Landscape BW1 or BW2.

If you are still with me I’d like to walk you through the steps I’ve been using in C1. I use a dual monitor setup with the tools and thumbnails on the left and the preview on the right.  It goes without saying that both monitors are calibrated on a regular basis.


The workflow is time consuming however the end result is well worth it as you are in complete control of the process similar to a wet darkroom.

Several things are happening here.  The ICC Profile has been set, and a clone of the file made.  Black and white box checked and the various levels of Red, Yellow, Green, Cyan, Blue and Magenta set watching the image as you adjust them.  Finally, Color Balance using Shadow, Midtones and Highlight are adjusted using your preference.


The next screen shows changes in exposure, levels, curve, clarity and vignetting.  Each section is tested to see the change in the image and if satisfactory are kept or returned to a neutral setting.

The original file prior to conversion.

The finished image

While the above is a simplified view of a medium format image what follows is a sample of a Sony A7rII using an image taken in Bryce Canyon, November 2015.


The last screen shot shows the use local adjustments in one case bringing up shadows and the other helping in highlights.

Here are more examples of the conversion using the above workflow…

Old plastic factory
Sony A7rII
Bryce Canyon
28mm lens and an IQ180 digital back
Old Utah Cabin
28mm lens and an IQ180 digital back
Devil's Garden Arches National Park
100-megapixel IQ1-100
The workflow I’ve outlined works for me as I find it better than a “one size fits all” solution found in either the Styles section of C1 or anything I’ve tried using Photoshop, Nik Silver Efex Pro or Topaz Labs.  While each file should be worked separately I have found that I can apply the same setting to another file that was shot the same day using the same exact settings thus making it slightly faster. 
This barely skims the surface of what C1 can do and I highly recommend visiting Phase One to learn more about Capture One.  Please remember to use the AMBDON code at checkout to receive a 10% discount on either the full program (good for 3-computers) or an upgrade from a previous version.

Thank you once again for visiting and I hope you return throughout the coming year.  Please feel to comment or ask questions.



Friday, December 16, 2016

Visiting Moab Utah

Walking into Devil's Garden
Sony A7rII FE16-35 (35mm) f/9 1/250 ISO 50

We live in the Tucson Arizona area and commute to work with our latest commute being to the beautiful area of Moab Utah.  The images presented here were captured using a combination of Sandys Sony A7rII and Dons Phase One XF body and IQ1-100 digital back.
The Sony A7rII for those who might not know is a 42.4 megapixel full frame 35mm camera body that accepts various lenses all in a small package.  The Phase One system comprises of a separate body and digital back that also accepts removaleable lenses. The major drawback of the Phase One XF when compared to the Sony is the size and weight while the major advantages are the much larger sensor (35x24 versus 53.7x40.4) as well as the ability to remove the digital back from the XF and replace it with another; which is exactly what Don did just recently when he upgraded from an 80-megapixell CCD sensor IQ180 to the 100-megapixel CMOS sensor IQ1-100.  Sandy and Don are now both using cameras with Sony CMOS sensors,  The major advantage to the CMOS senor in medium format is higher ISO (50-12800) and a much better live view both functions the A7rII has had from the outset (ISO 100-25600).
Green River Overlook
Sony A7rII FE 24-70 (70mm)
Anyone who has followed us knows we believe in showing photography as art more than duplication.  Anyone can snap an image and leave it at that; what we do is try to convey emotion.  We are more interested in sharing the feelings of the location; to that end we “listen” to the image as after we open it for initial processing.  We use multiple tools at our disposal to include filters on the camera lens, processing software that includes Capture One Pro, Photoshop, Nik Software and Topaz Labs.  While our “darkroom” is now 100% digital we now have the tools that make it easier to do what used to be extremely difficult to perform in a wet-darkroom (and in some cases impossible).
An example of turning a simple photographic image into something slightly more.  Processing was done using a combination of Capture One Pro and Nik Software.
Sony A7rII FE16-35 (35mm) f/5 1/100 ISO 50

Sandy standing at the edge near Canyonlands National Park
Phase One XF Schneider LS40-80 (80mm) IQ1-100
Turning photographs into art.  The top image is the original as shot which at the time looked good however once looking at the image on a larger screen we agreed it looks bland but worthy of at least seeing if it could be saved.  The bottom image reflects after processing in Capture One Pro and Topaz Labs.
Phase One XF, Schneider LS 35mm IQ1-100
f/11 1/200 ISO 200

And a slightly larger view of why we like this one. 
There’s always the threat when capturing landscape images that the weather won’t cooperate.  Too much light, not enough light or you missed the light while setting up. Add to that too hot, too cold, blowing snow and just freezing weather can turn a normally beautiful spot into something else.  You need to think outside the box.  This is another example of that thinking.  The color image was “nice” but not “great” so we ended up making this into a stylized image of the Green River Overlook. The color image that’s directly below was taken with 90-seconds and looks great in color.  Both were captured using a Phase One XF, Schneider LS 35mm and an IQ1-100 f/8 1/320 ISO 200. Go figure…

There are times you might want to add drama to an image.  The following images are an examples.  The pothole was captured because we could see a slight reflection of the sky in the water as well as the heavy overcast sky with the sun trying to peek through.  The finished image is more of what we “felt” than what we “saw”.
Likewise the image of Park Avenue in Arches National Park is the finished image after cropping from the bottom and adding a little drama to the sky. Both images were processed in Capture One Pro before Topaz Labs.
Phase One XF Schneider LS 40-80 (40mm) f/8 1/2500 ISO 400 Handheld
Phase One XF Schneider LS 35mm f/8 1/5 ISO 50
You need to watch out for the unexpected.  We found this tight space near Sand Dune Arch.  While it didn’t look all that photogenic it did have a certain appeal to Don.  The space itself is very tight and showed the two rocks wedged in-between.  Phase One XF, Schneider LS 35mm, handheld f/3.5 1/160 ISO 400.  Processed entirely in Capture One Pro.

Truthfully this was a very ugly spot however Don saw something here that he knew was worthy of at least trying.  Phase One XF, Schneider LS35, IQ1-100, f/3.5 1/250 ISO 400.  The image was processed initially in Capture One Pro as all our images are before sending to Photoshop.  Once in Photoshop he began working on the individual hue/saturation levels of the reds, yellows, greens, cyans, blues, and magentas experimenting raising and lowing the saturations until he arrived at the image below.
There are two parts to this story. There are times you just don’t have a wide enough lens to capture the scene.  Don’s widest lens he had at the time, a Schneider LS 35 wasn’t wide enough. Likewise Sandy’s 16-35 at 16mm wasn’t either.  This is a two shot handheld pano using the Sony A7rII, FE16-35 at 16mm. f/8 1/320 ISO 50.  Don tried the same thing with his 35mm and failed to get a usable file. 
The second part is the color.  The image was captured at almost high noon with the worse possible light.  The Colorado River was flat however is was extremely muddy and looked like, well crap. We processed the files and while we disliked the color we liked the overall image; thus we converted it to black and white saving an otherwise ugly image.
Another example of turning an otherwise somewhat dull image into something else. Turret Arch was a very quick snap Sandy took using her Sony A7rII and FE90mm lens. We were in the middle of a light snow storm that made shooting conditions difficult. The area we were in offered a great observation spot and rather than risk not finding it again Sandy decided to experiment and take the shot.  The file looked “okay” however we both felt it need “something” else so we decided to try it in Topaz Labs getting the result you see below.
There are also times when we’re shooting we “see” the scene in black and white.  We compose the shot knowing that once we open and begin processing the file we’d do it as a black and white image.  Sometimes we fail however most of the times we win. Huge...
The image below was captured by Sandy using her Sony A7rII FE24-70 lens at 40mm f/8 1/200 ISO 50.  Processed entirely in Capture One Pro.
Don likes to focus-stack images in order to achieve what he calls focus from his toes to the sky.  The following are two examples of focus stacking using a 100-megapixel IQ1-100 medium format camera.  Both were captured using a Phase One XF camera body and a Schneider LS 35mm lens.  A steady tripod is a must in doing focus stacking; in doing both of these Don used a new Platypod Max in lieu of a tripod in order to get low enough.
8-files f/8 1/160 ISO 50
7-files f/11 1/125 ISO 50
Platypod Max at work.  Don has the waist level viewfinder attached to the XF to assist him in low level shooting conditions as well as using a remote shutter release for a hands off approach other than to change focus.
Broken Arch, Arches National Park.  Both images are full frame with no cropping done. 
Sony A7rII FE16-35 (16mm) f/7,1 1/100 ISO 50
Phase One XF Schneider LS 35mm f/5.6 1/200 ISO 50
This was the first visit to Moab since Don upgraded to the 100-megapixel IQ1-100 digital back and once again he’s very impressed.  The following images were captured on the fly in the Garden of Eden area of Arches National Park.  While he would have preferred a longer lens like the Schneider LS 240 (which was sitting at home in Tucson) he was able to try the resolution factor of the 75-150 at 150mm.
f/5.6 1/200 ISO 50
The above image was taken at 150mm handheld through the window of the truck in a slight snow storm.  Processed in Capture One Pro then sent to Photoshop in order to run the shake reduction filter which helped a little.

The following is a 100% crop.
Not bad...
The following is a side by side comparison of another image taken seconds after the one above. The image on the left is the full fame while the one on the right is a crop.  Having the extra resolution available is a great tool to have.
Our final image is the result of 4-images stitched together to make a panorama of Arches National Park with the LaSalle Mountain in the background. The files were processed in Capture One Pro prior to stitching them together in Photoshop.  This is not the final image as Don feels it still needs a little more work.
f/6.3 1/640 ISO 100 (handheld)
Once again we want to thank our dear friend Dave Gallagher of Capture Integration for the love and support he and his company provides us throughout the year.  A big shout out also goes to Ziv Argov, VP Marketing Phase One.
This is our last blog entry for 2016 as the year is quickly coming to a close.  Next year, 2017 has a lot of surprises in store with new travel that we are anxious to share so please stay tuned.   Until then however, we’d like to wish everyone a very safe holiday season and a happy new year.
Sandy & Don




Sunday, November 20, 2016

Phase One IQ1-100 (100 megapixel medium format)


Abo Mission ruins is the result of 2-focus captures that were later stacked in Photoshop CC.  The original files were processed in Capture One-9 prior to opening and stacking in PSCC.  The final image also had a little help from Topaz Labs.  100-megapixel, Phase One IQ1-100, XF body using a Schneider LS 35mm lens.  Handheld shot, f/8 1/800 ISO 200.


Another example using the Schneider LS 35mm f/8 1/500 ISO 50.  This image was cropped from the bottom to taste.  Primary processing was done first in Capture One before sending to Topaz Labs for tweaking.
Non-cropped sample using the Schneider LS 240 (handheld) f/8 1/400 ISO 50.  Processed entirely in Capture One 9.
I’ve written about this new digital back twice; once after a quick trip south of Tucson to kick the digital tires and again after a quick full moon test using a Schneider LS 240 lens.  This time I’m writing after a much thorough time using it in the Socorro New Mexico area where we spent a week shooting late at night and sunrise.
Non-cropped, first nightscape test using the XF, IQ1-100 and an older Mamiya 28mm lens.  f/4.5 30-seconds ISO 1600.
Second night of testing this time using a slightly faster Schneider LS 35mm f/3.5 10-seconds ISO 1600. I’ve ordered a Phase One 45mm f/2.8 since this trip and will be testing it shortly.
We enjoyed our time in the Socorro area visiting the Large Array at night as well as the Bosque del Apache NWR for sunrise.  We also visited Fort Craig as well as the Salinas Pueblo Missions ruins.
What I took away from this trip is that I love this new digital back.  The IQ1-100 captures using a different sensor than I’m used to with medium format as up to now all my previous backs used CCD sensors and the new IQ1-100 uses CMOS.  Depending on how you do your math this is a 5% increase in resolution over the 80-megapixel IQ180 I had been using and frankly I didn’t consider adding an additional 20-megapixels all that much in deciding on the upgrade (more on this later).  What I wanted was a digital back that would allow me the chance to shoot a cleaner file at much higher ISO.  Shooting higher ISO also allows me greater flexibility in shutter speeds; faster/slower speeds depending on the situation.  Higher ISO will also give me more flexibility in aperture (f/top) settings with a good example being the Schneider LS 240.  Wide open, the 240 can shoot at f/4.5; however mount it on the 2x extender that doubles to f/9 which in certain circumstances is very slow.  Add the ability to shoot at a higher ISO; 400, 800 and a very clean 1600 you get to keep the f/9 and be able to choose better shutter speeds to suit the situation.  
The above was shot in the Bosque del Apache NWR around 9:30 in the morning using a Schneider LS 240 with the 2x attached making it 480mm.  The camera/lens was locked down on tripod using the Really Right Stuff long lens support bracket.  While I enjoy using this combination it nevertheless is very difficult to use. The entire system becomes too heavy to even attempt to handhold, you lose autofocus and it becomes extremely slow at f/9.   This was captured at f/9 1/250 ISO 100.  Processed in Capture One before sending to PSCC to run shake reduction even though it was on a stead tripod as I’ve found it helps about 50% of the time.  The bottom image is a 100% crop of the top.

The combination of the Schneider LS 240 and XF with the 100-megapixel IQ1-100 can achieve remarkable results with this image being an example.  Shot at f/10 1/400 ISO 400 handheld.  The file was opened in Capture One and instead of looking at it at 100% I looked at it at 200%.  This image is as close to a 200% crop as I could make it.  No other processing was done other than cropping.

One more example of how well the combination of the Schneider LS 240 with the XF and IQ1-100 performs.  The top image is the full size with the bottom showing a 100% crop.  This was shot quickly handheld, f/8 1/1000 ISO 1600.  I would have never thought I’d be able to achieve the results like this with my older IQ180!
Sunrise at Bosque del Apache NWR.  Schneider LS 40-80 at 80mm. XF, IQ1-100 f/8 1/160 ISO 400.  Not entirely certain if I could have captured this at ISO 400 if I had been using the older IQ180 however I’m certain that I wouldn’t have been shooting at f/8.
One last 100% crop sample.  f/8 1/400 ISO 800.
One last non-cropped example of how clean higher ISO can be.  This was captured using the Schneider LS 240 (handheld) f/8 1/1250 ISO 1600.  Needless to say I’m very pleased with the full range of ISO that I’ve shot.  400, 800, and 1600 are all very clean with little to no noise in any file and what noise I found was easily cleaned up in Capture One.
I ordered a 45mm f/2.8 from my camera dealer Dave Gallagher,Capture Integration after explaining my need for a faster lens than the f/3.5 LS 35.  My thinking is that the primary purpose of the 45mm will be nightscape and limited day use when I might need a lighter weight system to carry around.  I received the 45mm and while I haven’t yet been able to test it at night I did use it briefly during the day and am very pleased.
We found this tack hanging on the outside of a building on a ranch we recently visited in the Cascabel Arizona area.  This is what you’d typically find on horse property.  Phase One XF, IQ1-100 ISO 200, Phase One 45mm f/8 1/250 ISO 200.  This was initially processed in Capture One before sending it to PSCC and Topaz Labs then cropped to suit.
Anyone who knows me by now knows I like doing large panoramas and multiple focus images.  Panoramas can be the result of 2 to 3 images while focus stacking and be 4 images or more.  This is 5-images shot at a dry stream bed.  Each file measures 32.2” x 24.2” (11608x8708) at 360 ppi and 16 bit depth for a file size of 578.46 MB each.  Loading all 5-files at once into Photoshop layers before running an auto align on the layers then auto blend those layers was a test I wanted to perform with the IQ1-100.  
The end result of 5-files focused stacked and processed using Topaz Labs after the initial Capture One processing.
I’m very pleased with the IQ1-100.  I’ve found myself changing my capture workflow by using higher ISO and in some cases much higher shutter speeds.  The additional 20-megapixel help for resolution however the biggest takeaway is the sensor and ISO.  I’ve found the higher ISO’s to be very cleaned with little to no noise and as I’ve mention before Capture One cleans what noise I’ve found easily enough. 
I can’t write about using high ISO without adding at least one sample of ISO 6400.  This was one of the first tests done at the Large Array in New Mexico using the older Mamiya 28mm.  The 28mm is a slow lens at f/4.5 so with that in mind I wanted to shoot as fast as I could at as high an ISO I dared.  The end result is f/4.5 10-seconds at ISO 6400.  There’s noise in it yet not so much that it becomes unusable.  Knowing now that I can use the LS 35mm at 3.5 and soon the 45mm f/2.8 I can cut the ISO back to 1600 and achieve the results I’m looking for.
My strongest recommendation to anyone who is interested in shooting 100-megapixel medium format is to try this out.  Phase One offers 2-100-megapixel backs with one geared more towards those who use a technical camera and those who don’t.  If you want more information I’d suggest you contact the kind folks at Capture Integration.
That’s all for now; I hope to add more nightscape samples in the near future so please stay tuned for the update.