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Environmental Portrait Photography

Lesson 23 of 48

Retouch Images in Capture One


Environmental Portrait Photography

Lesson 23 of 48

Retouch Images in Capture One


Lesson Info

Retouch Images in Capture One

We're gonna start the retouching process. So we've already gone through capture one and made our selects. And the next thing I wanna do is kind of really tweak these images and fine tune them down to fit each image individually. So what I wanna do is we're gonna do them one at a time. We have about nine images we're gonna edit from Brock's session. We're gonna do them each individually. So the first think I'm gonna do is copy these settings and what I'm gonna do is you can go to image and make a new variant. You can either hit shift F2 or just make a new variant there and what we have is the exact raw. So you can see before and after of what we did to the image and what was not done. So what I wanna do is take this variant, and I'm gonna use that as a baseline. And I'm actually gonna apply all the settings from this image. So you can copy all your settings up here and I'm gonna paste them to the variant. And then that way when I have, I know what I want it to look like roughly, and I'm...

gonna go back and work on the original. So we're gonna go back to our local adjustments tab here, and I'm going to reset that image. That's this arrow up here. It resets all the settings. So now we're back to our raw. Well now we can start working and getting it exactly how we want. And I know this was the general direction so I can always go back and look at those settings because I have that variant. Where if you look at here, my exposure and HDR tabs, these ones are re-zeroed. These ones are set. So I can always know what I set it at and I can always go back and look. But I just like working this way so I have kinda a before and after and a comparative view. So the first thing I'm gonna do is I know what we did in studio, I'm gonna up the exposure slightly, and I'm definitely gonna open up those shadows. And again, by going back and forth I can see for the original I didn't touch the exposure but I opened up the shadows a ton. And I also know that I'm gonna up the contrast. And what I'm looking at here is shadow detail in the true shadows down here, and I'm looking at highlights. So we have this eyedropper. I can take that, we can even zoom in a little bit further and we can pan upwards, and I can take that dropper and look, and we can zoom over highlights on his head. So here we're at 231. The other thing you can do, so 255 would be totally blown out. 231's fine, there's still detail there. The other thing you can do within Capture One you'll see this little warning sign here. You can actually set highlight warnings or exposure warnings. So there, the brightest highlight on his face is there. What you do is you go to file, or sorry, Capture One, preferences, exposure. So your exposure warning will blink red or whatever color you want. And I put mine at 245. So anything that gets over 245 will flash red because I know I'm getting really close to losing detail. I don't have a shadow warning even turned on 'cause I don't care about that so much. So I know that his nose right here is approaching 245, or it is 245, and there's a tiny dot on his forehead. That's about as far as I wanna push the exposure. We can bring a little bit of that back by bringing the highlights. But again, once they're gone, they're gone. So I don't wanna push it too far. So we're good pushing our exposure. We don't wanna go any further. And I like how that looks anyways. The next thing I wanna do, we can push the contrast just a tiny bit. I'm gonna take away a little bit of saturation and I like to work from a file that's not fully pushed out as far as contrast goes because when I start doing color grading later, that's naturally gonna add more contrast. So I need a little bit of leeway. That's why I don't set my exposure warning at 255. I give myself just a little bit of room to work with so that way when I start adding the color later, if it ups the contrast a little bit, I'm not gonna be losing detail. There you can see, that one's pretty bright. So we don't need to go ahead yet. So with that said, I'm gonna kinda work with this. It looks pretty good overall. The only thing I haven't done is any of the color work. So we're good with the exposure. There's nothing too blown out by any means. Now we can go to color balance. So that's where I wanna compare what we have here. We definitely added some blue to our shadows. And I always do that. That's kinda part of my look, so we're adding a little blue there. You can see if we add a lot of blue it just gets to be a little much. I know I'm gonna do more color work later. This is just to make me a nice solid base file. We definitely added some of this yellowish orange to our mid tones. I always do that as well, especially on environmental work. It warms it up just a little bit to counter act those blue shadows. And then we add a little bit of warmth to the highlights. That's gonna warm up that light that's coming through the windows for the most part. You'll see, I'll turn on a lot. We'll turn off this exposure warning, but you'll see it almost makes it look like just totally different. But I want a little bit of that, but not a ton. I mean it's looking pretty good overall. And I don't want it to be as contrasty as this image, this variant because again, I'm gonna be doing that toning and other work later. So what we're gonna do, is we're gonna call this one good and we can save that to export it later. And I'm gonna delete this variant, well actually I'm gonna leave that because I like to see the before and after. So we're gonna do the same thing here. I don't always make a variant. Sometimes we just work from the original image. But I do like having it just so I can see what we do. So again we'll copy and we'll paste. And we're gonna go here. This one's already too bright. I know that because I saw the warning pop up last time. So we're gonna tone that down a little bit. We're gonna bring down the highlights. It's already looking a little better. The shadow detail's fine. The color, we're gonna get rid of just a little bit of this blue. And the rest of it looks pretty good. I'm gonna tone down the, I'm out of warmth in the highlights and mid tones. And as far as saturation goes, we'll bring that down just a little bit. Contrast is all right. We'll bring it down a tad. That's pretty good too. I am gonna bring up the shadows just a little bit more. It also looks a little different on here only because the resolution's different than my native resolution on the laptop. So I know the sharp, it might look not perfectly sharp but if you were to look at on here afterward it would be pretty tack sharp. Any ones that weren't sharp, I didn't select in the original culling. So that's pretty much good for that. This one has great exposure. He was just in the right spot. I don't think there'll be, you know just a little bit there at 245 but that's perfect. I'll take that any day. I'm gonna get rid of a little bit of the warmth in the highlights and a little in the mid tones. We're good with that. Same here, I'm gonna up the shadows just a little bit to flatten it out. We'll call that good. Now we'll move on to these white ones. This is just a little bit bright. So I'm gonna tune it down every so slightly. And again, I don't want to tune it down to the point that my background is not stark white, you know something like this. But it's okay to bring it down just a little bit. And I'm actually gonna darken the shadows for once. And our contrast is turned way up so I'm gonna get rid of some that contrast knowing that we're gonna add back a little later. So we'll tune that down just a little bit. I'm actually gonna copy those settings. I know this is from the same set. We can apply, and I don't have to do that all again. So that's how you can both, you don't need to do the exact thing every single time. If you get one that you like and you have another image that's from the exact same set, this crop right now is awful. What I'm gonna end up doing is cropping it. But I like the look. So I'm not necessarily judging it as a whole quite yet. I do like what was going on here. We'll flatten it out just a little bit as far as contrast, 'cause I know again, we're gonna add some more later. Saturation was already reduced. I'm pretty okay with that. These ones are little more tricky just because of the movement. So we'll flatten that guy out. This one will be one that's just a little more stylized. It's a little less technical than the other ones as far as from a standpoint of lighting because you have someone moving around and I'm handholding the light. It's just a different look. Not everyone will like that, but I like to provide options and do different things. And again, you saw he was dribbling right at me. So the light, the distance between him and the light changes a lot, even from here leaning his head back to leaning forward. There's gonna be things that happen, but that's okay. We can play with it, see what happens. We'll call that good. So now to process these. We can select the ones that we've edited. Actually before we do that we're gonna hit this little gear right here, and that's gonna send us to our processing area. So you have what's called a processing recipe. With that recipe, I think I talked about this a little bit earlier, you can select the file type. So jpeg, tif, dng, png, psd. We're gonna go to jpeg. We're gonna keep the current file name of CL Brock. I forgot to set the, reset the counter. That's fine, it doesn't really matter. And then SRGB files, that's great. Resolution 3000 dpi. This is where you can adjust the width. So we're gonna go with a fixed width of 100%. So I wanna work on a true high res file. So it's gonna be the full file which is 4900 by 7300 pixels, so it's essentially 36 mega pixels. And now where do we wanna put it. So when we created our new session in Capture One, it already gave us an area to put these photos. CL Brock, output. So that's where we can put those. So all those files are gonna go into the output folder and you can see I have 247 gigs left on my computer because I'm saving everything there today. And now we'll go up, we'll select all the files we wanna process. You could shift click all of them, but I don't want those variants. All right, then all you gotta do is click this gear up here and hold on one second, yeah, so it wants to edit all the variants. Those files will then end up in CL Brock output. I might be doing one at a time here. Yeah, so you can see if the gear on here is gray, that means it's processed. If it's orange it means it's still to be. Or you can hit this triple-geared box right here and it shows there's about 27 seconds left and it shows a little pie chart here. And then those files will end up in here. And they have the same name as they do with the raw. So if you wanna, you know if you have a client who has a jpeg, if you keep all the names the same you can go back and access the raw if you send him low res or something like that. So now that all of our files have transferred, I believe, oop there's one left. So they're about 25 megs a piece as far as jpegs go. What I do then is I don't go through, some people will use Photo Mechanic or Bridge to make more select. We already did all that. I'm not doing that another time. We have these in our finder here. So I'm just gonna open 'em up one at a time in Photoshop and we are going to do a little quick editing.

Class Description


  • Confidently create environmental portraits
  • Light any portrait, indoors or outdoors
  • Compose strong environmental portraits
  • Cull and polish high-end images in post
  • Develop a portfolio and marketing tactics


Create dramatic images anywhere by mastering on-location scouting, planning, lighting, and composition. Join professional photographer Dan Brouillette in a start-to-finish course on the art of environmental portraits. From planning and scouting to post-processing and portfolio building, gain the skills to shoot high-end portraits, anywhere. While designed for environmental portrait work, this class is also for any photographer that wants to create better light, on location.

In this light-intensive course, learn how to craft environmental portraits using photographic lighting techniques working with both natural light and studio lighting equipment. Work with multi-light strobe set-ups and natural window light to turn difficult lighting conditions into beautiful light. Then, learn how to mix natural light and studio lights for dramatic effects that complement the scene. By incorporating light in new and inventive ways, Dan will help you push the boundaries of your portraits and improve your workflow.

Finally, work with culling and post-processing. Learn how to polish images using a combination of Capture One, Photoshop, and Alien Skin software. Then, gain insight into building a portfolio and marketing your work to work in editorial and commercial areas for environmental portraiture.


  • Budding portrait photographers
  • On-location portrait photographers
  • Photographers eager to learn on-location lighting
  • Photographers branching into commercial and editorial work


Capture One 11, Adobe Photoshop CC 2018, Alien Skin 2018


Dan Brouillette's high-end editorial style has lead to work with celebrities from Anne Hathaway to Scarlett Johansson. A commercial, editorial and senior photographer based in Nebraska, he's known for giving everyday people the Hollywood look. His previous work as a lighting technician helped him build his signature style using dramatic lighting techniques typically used for commercial work. With an insightful and easy listening teaching style, he helps photographers learn to craft with light.


  1. Class Introduction

    Jump into environmental portraits with an overview of the class. Prep for the class with an overview in this lesson.

  2. Introduction to The Environmental Portrait

    What is an environmental portrait? Environmental portraits tell a story using a single image. Gain insight into the genre in this lesson.

  3. Environmental Portrait Purpose

    Why shoot environmental portraits? Environmental portraits encompass history, story, and personality -- and they are more interesting than plain backgrounds.

  4. Personal Work

    Personal work conveys your unique passion for photography. In this lesson, Dan discusses using personal work -- even for photographers with paying clients -- to avoid burnout and stay true to your passion.

  5. Find Your Process

    Every photographer's workflow may feel a little different. Start finding your own process by brainstorming, planning out personal shoots, scouting locations and more.

  6. Tethering

    Tethering allows your camera to instantly talk to your computer for review during the shoot. In this lesson, learn how tethering can boost your workflow and can help you easily pre-process your images during the shoot.

  7. Purpose For Action Editorial

    Ahead of the live shoot, walk through the purpose of the action editorial shoot in the photo studio. Learn why studio-like shoots are often a requirement.

  8. Prepare for Shoot

    Preparation is key to successful environmental portraits. Master what's essential to the planning process and learn how Dan prepared for the upcoming live shoot.

  9. Action Editorial Process

    Dive into the workflow for an action editorial shoot. Walk through Dan's process for this type of image, from working with the client to delivering the photos and invoicing. Read through an actual editorial assignment from a real magazine and learn how those details spark the planning process, including preparing the dramatic effects from studio lighting.

  10. Set Up Action Editorial Shoot

    Set up for the live shoot, beginning with the tethering software. Go behind the scenes as Dan sets up lights and explains the gear and his vision for the shoot. Work with studio lighting placement, including angles and the height of the light stand. Control strobe lighting with different angles and modifiers.

  11. Shoot: Action Editorial With Athlete

    Begin the live shoot with a test shot to adjust the studio lighting and camera settings. Here, Dan shares his camera settings, like the 1/200 shutter speed and a white balance of around 5500K, then works with the "first layer" of lighting with the key light. Add fill light using a strobe modified with a silver umbrella and an accent rim light. Then, move into action shots.

  12. Studio Portrait Shoot Overview

    Take a brief break from the live shoot and learn why studio shoots are often included to supplement the environmental portraits. Gain an overview of the process before heading back into live shooting.

  13. Shoot: Athletic Studio Portrait

    Set-up the studio portrait using strobe lighting and V-flats with a bright white background. Learn how to manipulate the light to brighten the background without spilling over to the subject using side lighting and "cheats" with V-flats.

  14. Shoot: Manipulate Light to Mimic The Sun

    With the right modifiers and light source, you can mimic natural light with studio lighting. Learn how to create hard light to mimic the sun in the studio.

  15. Shoot: Change Background Color With Light

    Using the same white background, learn how to manipulate the color of the background with light. Remove the lights to create a gray background. Work with several different studio lighting set-ups to manipulate the background color.

  16. Shoot: Create Soft Light with Umbrella

    After working with hard light, work with soft light by using a black and white umbrella with a diffusion sock to light the subject. Set-up the side light to feather on the subject without falling onto the background.

  17. Shoot: Create Intentional Shadows

    Working with studio photography lighting is just as much about the shadows as it is the light. Learn how to create intentional shadows using studio equipment.

  18. Shoot: Action Shots In Studio

    Go behind-the-scenes for studio action shots. Watch as Dan works with a handheld light without a light stand to replicate the look of on-camera flash.

  19. Review Images in Capture One

    Review the images from the live studio shoots inside Capture One. Cull photos quickly with keyboard shortcuts and see the results from the live shoot.

  20. Raw Processing

    Move into post-processing by working with the RAW files. Pre-processing with tethering offers a jump start -- learn the process of fine-tuning RAWs and organizing files.

  21. File Handling

    Organizing files helps streamline the process and make invoicing easier. In this lesson, Dan shares his process for sharing and organizing digital images.

  22. Retouching & Color Overview

    Strategize for post-processing in this overview lesson. Learn Dan's process for editing, including finding your style, and working with color.

  23. Retouch Images in Capture One

    Work inside Capture One to perfect the RAW files from the live shoot. Find tricks and tips to working in Capture One, working with exposure, contrast, and basic color temperature.

  24. Retouch Images in Photoshop

    Moving into Adobe Photoshop, remove distracting elements like stray hairs and acne. Work with the patch tool and clone tool to clean up images in Photoshop.

  25. Retouch Images With Presets

    Work with cropping inside Adobe Photoshop. Then, move into Alien Skin to work with presets to work with different colors and dramatic effects. Work with film-inspired presets, then learn how to fine-tune the effect.

  26. Advertising Vs. Editorial

    Editorial work and advertising work have several distinct characteristics. Learn the difference between the two and how to please both types of clients.

  27. Indoor Location Shoot

    Move into the second shoot of the class with an indoor shoot on location. Gain an overview of the goals and process for the shoot.

  28. Indoor Location Shoot Process

    Prepare for the shoot with tips on the process of the environmental portraiture. Work with a checklist and a shot list, then jump into the first in a series of behind-the-scenes videos in an artist's studio.

  29. Get to Know Your Subject

    Understanding your subject helps create unique, authentic images. Learn how to collaborate with the subject. Find the essentials to quickly getting to know the subject.

  30. Test & Frame Your Shot

    With a shot list and understanding the subject, Dan then moves into analyzing the location and the natural light or ambient light that's already in the space. Work with testing the light and framing the composition.

  31. Create Natural Light

    Placing lights where they'd naturally be in the space helps create flattering, dramatic lighting that doesn't look terribly out of place. Work in the shooting space with initial lighting and start shooting.

  32. Natural Light & Alternate Light

    Every portrait doesn't need studio equipment lighting -- work with natural lighting and window light. Alternate lighting can build variety into your environmental portraits.

  33. How to Shoot Indoor Location Portrait

    Along with action-based environmental portraits, a more formal, looking-at-the-camera shot is often part of each shoot. Work with shooting portraits on location, from setting up the studio lighting to composing and getting the shot.

  34. Indoor Shoot Results

    Review the results from the indoor shoot in this lesson. Dan explains everything that went into the shot and why he made some of the decisions that he did.

  35. Outdoor Location Shoot Goals

    In the third shoot of the class, head out to a location with natural light inside a garage and outdoors. Learn how Dan prepared for the session and the goals for the shoot.

  36. Indoor/Outdoor Light Setup

    Work with outdoor and semi-outdoor locations by tackling the lighting. After scouting and settling on a narrative, work with studio lighting tools to create dramatic effects. Go behind-the-scenes for the three light set-up using artificial lighting.

  37. Studio Light On Location

    Mix the natural light with the ambient light in this shoot outside the garage, continuing the third project of the class. Learn why you might use artificial lighting outside and how to mix the sunlight and a studio light kit.

  38. Create Location Portrait

    Work with the location portrait from the third shoot of the class. Learn how to spot locations for the more formal portrait and work with graphic compositions and more dramatic light.

  39. Outdoor Shoot Results

    Take a look at the results from the final shoot. In this lesson, Dan shares his thought process behind creating each shot and why he made the lighting and composition decisions that he did.

  40. Post Processing Overview

    Make a plan to polish the images from the second and third shoots. In this lesson, get an overview of the editing process before jumping into the post-processing.

  41. Choose Selects & Sort Images From Indoor Shoot

    Cull the images from the artist's studio and the garage inside Capture One. Review the images and go through the process of choosing what photos to edit and deliver.

  42. Edit Raw Images from Indoor Shoot

    Learn how to polish those indoor shots inside Capture One. Work with exposure, contrast, and color with the shots from the artist's studio.

  43. Finish Images in Photoshop & Alien Skin

    Work inside Photoshop to remove scuffs and scrapes on the walls and other clean-up tasks. Then, work with files in Alein Skin to color using presets.

  44. Portfolio Management

    Moving into the portfolio and marketing segment, gain insight into building a strong portfolio. Dan shares tips on building a portfolio, from what order to use to choosing what images to include.

  45. Importance of Website

    Websites serve as a first impression of your work. In this lesson, learn the dos and don'ts to building a photography website, like focusing on images and simplifying navigation.

  46. Marketing 101

    Your portfolio doesn't do much good if no one is actually laying eyes on it. Develop strategies to get your work in front of potential clients for editorial and commercial work.

  47. What About Reps?

    Reps work with the numbers while you focus on the photography. Learn the basic pros and cons to working with representatives or agents.

  48. Bring it All Together

    Wrap up the course with a final chat on environmental portrait photography. Once you've built a successful business, remember to take the time to get back to your roots and shoot for yourself.


Julie V

I had the chance to sit in the audience for this class and absolutely loved it. Watching Dan create amazing images from start to finish in front of us was so inspiring. I've learned so much from this class. It actually gave me the confidence to start playing with lights in my studio. It was really useful to see how he sets his lights and how he can easily mix ambient light with artificial. I also love how he focuses on getting the image right in the camera to only do light edits after. I recommend this class to anyone wanting to learn more about lighting, shooting tethered and editing efficiently!

a Creativelive Student

I love this guy! I so appreciate his honesty while he is explaining his thought process, admitting that his “shoulda/coulda/woulda’s” - which I experience ALL the time. I am now going to dust off my light meter and start using it on location as I’m convinced that it works now that I’ve seen Dan’s class. I enjoyed the detailed way he sets up each light individually, checking to make sure it adds the amount and quality of light he wants. Definitely recommend this class - especially for those people who have experience using studio lights and want to see how they can be used to get specific results. Dan’s clear, simple explanations, his unabashed humility, and his sense of humor made this a truly enjoyable way to spend my time learning his methods.

a Creativelive Student

Dan is an excellent instructor! He's completely transparent with his thought processes, from technical to creative. He doesn't waste time horsing around or getting off topic, but is structured and sticks to his outline. Every minute watched is on topic, and is understandable. He's sincere and likable. The course is great for anyone interested in this genre!