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 😀