Capture One Review – Part 2: Picks and Variants

I was intrigued by the idea of Capture One Sessions. This looked like the perfect analogue of my concept of a project. Sessions have a capture folder, a selects folder, an output folder, and a trash folder. Great! I can create a session, import all my candidates into the capture folder, cull them by moving the ones I want to process to the selects folder, and have the output folder bound into the same folder hierarchy.

Sounds good? Not so fast.

  • Importing files into a session copies the files. Not good if you want to maintain a single source of truth.
  • Picking files moves the files into the selects folder. Also not good, it destroys my carefully-constructed file hierarchy.
  • Capture One doesn’t have a separate Pick function that just sets a flag. It actually moves files around.
  • Capture One tech support suggested that I use the original source folders as “Session Favorites”. While this solves the first problem, using their “Move to Selects Folder” option really moves the underlying file, which is a deal-breaker

Well, maybe I should try using Variants instead, which is the Capture One analogue of Lightroom Virtual Copy. Almost. The problem with Variants is that they all stay together, forever. You can’t move variants around one at a time, you can’t put different Variants in different Albums; if you add one Variant to an album, all of the Variants of that image show up also. This completely breaks isolation. If I work on different variants for different projects, any collection containing one of those variants displays all of them, so I no longer have a way of determining which variant works with which project.

Unless you’re using Smart Albums. I believe you can “split” variants between different smart albums based on color label or rating. But that’s pretty limited. What I really want is to split them based on the parent collection (which project they belong to), but the only way to do that is to assign a color or rating to a project, which puts a pretty small cap on the number of projects I can have. So this is no good either.

What we really need here is a way to assign an extra piece of metadata to each variant that we want in a project, and only to that variant. As far as I can tell, all the metadata aside from color and rating is assigned to the image itself (i.e., the raw file).

Eagle hunters in Bayan-Ölgii

Capture One Review – Part 1

I’ve been looking around for something that I can use to replace Lightroom — it’s always nice to have options. I finally bit the bullet and bought Capture One by Phase One Software. I had heard about how good its raw conversion was, and I also had heard that it was much faster than Lightroom for tethered shooting, and that it also had catalogs and albums, as well as sessions.

I am primarily a landscape photographer, although I occasionally do other projects such as portraits, macro for flowers, and street photography. I have never done tethered shooting, although it might be something I want to pick up in the future. As such, I have a large collection of photos from various trips. I designed a filesystem-based scheme, and I use Photo Mechanic to import photos and tag with keywords, extra IPTC data, and the like. This way, I have some reasonable hope of finding and recovering my work, should I ever stop using LR, or if it’s database becomes completely corrupted and is unrecoverable. (After 30 years in software, this is something I expect to happen…sometime)

The way I work is that from time to time, I will develop a project based on some theme. Maybe it’s just for social media, maybe for a gallery on this or some other site, maybe for a show or a contest, maybe to make prints. The crucial point is that I may end up processing an image many times, so I don’t want the different variants to get mixed up, and I want to be able to find the different projects quickly. Lightroom virtual copies and collections work really well for this purpose: I have lots of separation, it’s pretty lightweight, and I avoid copying raw files all over the place, so there is a single source of truth (the original raw file).

Here’s how I make a project using Lightroom. First, I’ll make a collection set to hold everything related to that project. Then I’ll make a collection inside for candidate images for the project. I’ll look through all my nicely-organized originals, and add the ones I want to consider to the candidate collection. Typically, this will be fairly large, and I’ll end up rejecting most of them for one reason or another.

Now I cull the candidates, probably in multiple passes. I’ll use LR Pick function for the ones I might want to process. Note that the Pick function just sets a flag on a virtual copy, doesn’t affect the original at all, the file and the pointer stay in the same spot.

Next I’ll make a pass through the picks to fix up any metadata that might be missing or incorrect.

Only now I’ll start processing the picks. I’ll move those to a separate collection, and try to do as much as feasible in Lightroom. Sometimes I’ll have to use an external editor, almost always Photoshop, for example, if I have bracketed exposures. The nice thing about the interoperability between LR and PS is that the PS file is saved by default with the original raw file, and is imported into the same collection of images being processed.

Now comes the output step, which is specialized to each project.

I noticed that Capture One had many of the same concepts, so I was very eager to try it out to see how well it fit my workflow. More in the next post :D

Eagle hunters in Bayan-Ölgii

Luminar 4 review

So, I got a copy of Luminar 4 a few days early. I really, really want to like it; I really do.


I’m sorry, it’s a resource hog. Perhaps this will improve with subsequent patch releases, but right now, it’s taking way too long to process things. And I’m not on an underpowered machine; I have a Mac Pro with 6 3.5 GHz cores and 64 GB of main memory. My files are on spinning rust, but at least it’s G spinning rust at 7200rpm.

I’m seeing high latency and bad CPU spikes. Like, 800% CPU for each of the following tasks, each of which took up to 10 seconds initially:

  1. Exporting a medium-quality JPG
  2. Applying a “look”, which was OK, but then dialing it down to 50%, which was in the 10-second range

The AI Sky Replacement feature looks fantastic. I really wish that you could at least see a preview of the sky replacement file before you apply it.

Sharing to mail message forces you to use the built-in Mail app (Mac OS, High Sierra); if everyone else can read the system defaults, why can’t Luminar?

Sharing to SmugMug works well, except for the 5-10 second latency preparing the image.


Portrait of an Eagle Hunter

Portrait of an Eagle Hunter

On a recent trip to Mongolia, I spent some time with a group of nomads in the northwestern part of the country who practice traditional eagle hunting. These men capture and train young eagles to hunt and return to their trainer. These are golden eagles, 4-6 kg. with an enormous wingspan and very strong and sharp talons. I actually put on a leather gauntlet and held one on my arm.

This is my best attempt at a portrait. It was shot indoors, inside one of the Gers, or yurts, with a 2-second exposure and a flash that fired near the end of the exposure. There was also a reflector off to the left rear for a bit of fill light.

Divi and the new IMac Pro contest

What a long, strange trip it’s been ….

This site uses themes built on the Divi Page Builder. For the most part, it’s pretty great. Except when you need it to do something it’s not designed to do. Then, trouble!!

It’s quite a learning curve, largely because WordPress itself is so complicated.

Adobe Valley