Essential Tools Overview: Exposure and Curves
Essential tools, I'm gonna close this catalog, and just of note actually you see here I've actually got two catalogs open at the same time, that's perfectly possible in Capture One. So you're not limited to one catalog open, if you wanna switch between two you can. You don't have to restart the software if you wanna switch catalogs. So I'm just gonna close down that little catalog we made, and then go to this catalog where we can start to look at various different adjustments and things. So the first essential tool we're gonna look at is Exposure and Curves. And if we go our Exposure Tool tab, then you'll find Exposure here, just collapse this down, and Curves here, just make ourselves a bit more space. Open up Exposure, open up Curves, like so. So two standard tools which I would imagine you know pretty much well how to use, but some of the terminology that we use here is a little different to probably what you expect the tool to do as such. Let's just open up one image, I'm sure you ...
all appreciate what exposure does, it the closest thing to adjusting the exposure on your camera at time of capture. So if you want to make an image brighter or darker, then of course it makes sense to use the Exposure adjustment as such. Contrast we're gonna come back to cause we're gonna describe that in conjunction with Curves. Brightness, should you know is just basically opening up the Midtones. So when you increase Brightness it brightens the Midtones, but it tends to leave shadows and highlights alone. It's pretty much the same as doing this on a Curve. So just giving that little lift to the Midtones, but not having much effect to the shadows and the highlights. And lastly, Saturation of course increases or decreases Saturation. Now the reason why I've got our friendly fox picture up here, the term Saturation is maybe slightly misleading. If you're on Light Room, you probably knew this as Vibrancy. So if we increase Saturation what you would expect is that everything gets saturated to the same amount. Whether it's a little bit saturated right now or whether it's really saturated now. So by increasing Saturation everything gets the same bump, but that's not actually the case with the Saturation slider in the Exposure Tool. So if I give this fox full Saturation, yes he gets saturated but it doesn't actually go completely off the rails. If we compare that to the Color Editor, which we will come to later, if I pick, let's go advanced, if I pick the fur, and then drag Saturation, there you can see the difference, because if you like, there's no buffer here, you're in control. So if you wanna go crazy with Saturation you can, whereas the Saturation slide in the Exposure Tool has that buffer built in. So that more saturated colors don't get as much treatment as the lesser saturated colors. So by using Saturation here it keeps things under much more control which is also better for skin tones as well, for example. So you're freer to push Saturation on the skin tone without it looking nasty and horrible and such. Now for the Contrast, we're gonna explain that in conjunction with Curves. Let's reset this image, image from John Shell in California, a good friend of mine. We're going to use this in four different variants, so we can look how curves and the contrast slider act on this. So I'm going to say New Variant, New Variant, New Variant so we've got four, and let's bring them all up like so. And I'll zoom in a bit so it's easier to see in a second. Actually if we crop it so it's smaller, cause we only really need to see a square like so. So if I crop that, and then you all know how to apply Crop Now so if I Shift Select those and Shift click my Crop Copy and Apply that will all get the same, and then now if we choose our pointer, ah I thought that was going to help me what about if I hide the tools, there we go. So now we've got these four different images and we hide the labels and let's see how this changes with Contrast and Curves. So top left image is we're gonna leave it zero, so top right image we're gonna apply, let's apply 25 points of Contrast something like that. And you can see the difference if we just Option, click, so you can see what's happening with the Contrast like so. You can zoom in a bit as well. By the way, if you Shift Pan, then you can shift all four segments at the same time, so Shift key and use the Pan then you can shift all four like so. Okay, so this image has 25, and our image on the bottom left we're going to put on a pretty standard RGB S Curve as such. So something like that. Okay, and then the image on the bottom right we're gonna change to Luma. And you might be thinking well what's Luma, it's still a curve but with Luma we only influence contrast we totally leave colors stable and untouched. So if I draw a similar S Curve down here then straight away if you look at the skin tone here and the skin tone here you see it's quite different. So if you remember if we step back, this had our RGB S Curve, this had our Luma Curve, and you can see a remarkable difference in the hue of the skin, because the Luma Curve is only going to affect Contrast it's not going to affect color at all. Now why am I talking about this in conjunction with the Contrast slider? It's because traditionally you might feel a well a Contrast slider, that's not for professionals that's just for amateurs I should be complicated stuff with curves and levels tools and so on and so forth. But the good news is about the Contrast slider in Capture One, is that it's somewhere in between an RGB Curve and somewhere in between the Luma Curve, because what you'll find with luminosity or using Luma Curves is that sometimes it looks a bit strange. Because when you increase Contrast on a subject, whether that's a person or blue sky, we'll look at sky in a minute, you actually expect when the Contrast goes up the color to go up a bit as well. It's human nature. If you imagine if we go outside today in San Francisco, great blue sky, everything looks colorful and punchy and fantastic and so on, so you expect when something's contrasty that it has a bit more color umph. If we go to where I live in the UK and it's raining and it's gray and it's cloudy and so on, everything looks flatter and less saturated and so on. So when you're using Luma Curves first of all, the result isn't necessarily what you expect because you're used to the color going up as well but it is an extremely powerful tool for influencing contrast and leaving your color well alone. So think about when that's useful. When you're working with people, because you can dial in a great color and think oh I just want to change contrast, but I know if I use RGB Curve it's gonna influence my color too much. So don't forget what Luma does, it's really important. And also don't forget that using a Contrast slider in Capture One is no bad thing either, because it gives you some protection of color, but it gives you a little boost where it's needed. So you can see it's not as strong as using an RGB Curve, you see her skin tone is kind of, it's too much now it's gone way off, but with the Contrast slider it's still pretty good. And with Luma you see it's completely untouched. So if you wanna go down the precisian method you can use Luma Curve in conjunction with Saturation slider to balance it exactly how you want. Or you can just use a good old Contrast slider and let Capture One pretty much do a great job as it comes out the box. If we just grab this shot of blue sky, let's just show you the difference between RGB. So let's do an RGB Curve, quite strong one and you see a Luma, let's do quite a strong one and I flip flop between the two you can see super blue sky, not so much blue sky. So that's why sometimes Luma looks a bit strange cause it doesn't have the appearance that you think it would. But it's a really powerful tool for adding contrast but keeping colors stable.
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Software Used: Capture One Pro 10