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RAW Editing Workflow

Lesson 39 from: Editorial Portrait Photography for High School Seniors

Dan Brouillette

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Lesson Info

39. RAW Editing Workflow


Class Trailer

Class Introduction


How to Make Senior Photos Stand Out


What is Lighting in Layers?


Build a Lighting Foundation


Layer One: Main Light


Layer Two: Fill Light


Layer Three: Accent Light


Layer Four: Additional Light


Lesson Info

RAW Editing Workflow

All right, so now we are definitely ready for starting workflow within Capture One. As I was saying, we're gonna start off with the images that we shot earlier in-studio of Cooper. I just kind of want to start in-studio with that controlled environment, even though the retouching doesn't necessarily have anything to do with that, I just think it's a good place to start, plus these images will look familiar to everybody, as these were the test shots we did as we were testing, you know, different lighting positions and things like that. So I wasn't too worried about the actual content of these images. I'm not gonna go through and select one based on personality or anything like that, because these were strictly shot as a teaching tool for lighting, but I do want to use those because they were shot technically, you know, far as metering and everything, like that, they were shot how I would want them to look. I'm gonna edit one so we'll just pick one here that's kind of a basic shot. Let's...

go with this guy right here. So this is just a good place to start, and what I do within Capture One is there's all your file folder structure over here. It's similar to any, you know, using Bridge or Lightroom or any of those things where you have all your folders, and within the folder, I just dropped, we were shooting tethered yesterday, like I said, into one of our folders down here. Just the creative life pre-shoot, and I put everything from both days in the same folder. So here is Cooper here, so then what I do, within Capture One, there's all these different menu options up here. This is for tethering, this is for color. This is for exposure, cropping, magnification and so on. But the trick is, this one right here with the brush is your local adjustments, that's where you can move multiple tools within one tab. So you can see within here, I have everything that I normally use so it's my white balance, it's my exposure, and it's my shadow and highlights. Those are the main things that I'm gonna use on every image within Capture One, so I keep those right here so all my tools are in one spot, I don't have to keep clicking around. It's really handy. You can also make, you know, your main image larger. The other thing I'll do is, if I'm going through and we're actually culling through a session, you can just hit one, two, three, four, five and you'll see underneath the thumbnails at the bottom, if I hit one, it is now one star, before I edit any images, before I start any of the color-correcting or retouching, I'll generally go through a whole session and select all the ones that I'm going to retouch, and then I'll sort them by rating and that brings all the starred images to the top. That way, I'm not sitting there looking at all of them, I'm giving that first glance of yes or no, and that's why if we have a part of a session where somebody's walking and I took 30 images of them walking, I'm just quickly look, and we'll do this later, I'm just quickly looking for that one that's the most flattering one that caught my eye right away, that I knew everything came together. 'Cause otherwise you can go back and forth and stare at these things forever. And a lot of times, your first instinct is the best one, it's the one that caught your eye. So go with that. I star them, and then I move forward, so I don't want to spend a lot of time in here. So the first thing I'll do, this is as-shot, this is totally RAW, straight out of the camera, RAW file, you can see 5570, that's the preset I had in my white balance to, on my camera. 5570 Kelvin with no tint at all. Exposure, everything's zeroed out. So there is absolutely nothing done to this image. So you can see the importance of shooting something with a light meter and having it all technical because really, if I wanted to leave this as-is, and move forward with it, I could. But for the sake of messing around, we're gonna mess with it a little bit. So one of the things I always do, I try and nail exposure on every shot, because for me, part of my processing on the back end, is to add more contrast, so I don't wanna have any blown highlights to start, so I always shoot either properly-exposed, if not, a little bit under, because as soon as you start to lose highlights, especially in skin tones, you bring out that red and that magenta within skin tones and that's hard to get rid of, especially people who shoot in natural light and are shooting at 1.8, 1.4 aperture. It's so easy that people like that bright look, and they don't think about the back end processing and printing, and as soon as you start to lose skin tones and they get that magenta tone, it's just really hard to bring back so I'm always erring on the side of being slightly underexposed, if I can't just nail it in-camera. The next thing I like to do, is within my Photoshop work, that's when I do all my color-toning, that naturally adds more contrast. So I like to start with a file that's more flat so that's where these high dynamic range, basically shadow and highlight recovery come in handy. I'm using those quite a bit, so you can see there is a decent amount of shadow with this image. I like that mood, but we're gonna get back to that later so I'm actually gonna up the shadow recovery quite a bit, and bring the highlights so essentially, you know, if we're starting here, I'm bringing the shadows up so I'm flattening out the low-end of the file, and then I'm bringing the highlights back down, which there aren't really any highlights in this, other than his forehead, and because it was exposed properly in-camera, we're not having to deal with that so much. So this is about where I'll start. I also know that a lot of my toning adds additional saturation, so I generally de-saturate each image about 10 to 12 points in RAW, knowing that that color's gonna come back later. So, this is a good starting point, I don't do anything else for a studio image within Capture One. A couple things you can do, we're gonna get to the color-correction of skin later, in an image shot outdoors. He had a pretty good tan going, so I don't want to mess with that in Capture One. But another thing you can do, is in this color tab, we can click that, there is a thing called color editor, that's where the skin tones are. There's also color balance, and it has a neat feature called the three-way color editing. So by three-way, it means shadows, mid-tones and highlights. And within each one of these, you can see there's a full color wheel, so you can actually add color to the highlights, shadows and mid-tones individually. And there's some presets too, so here's how some of them look. And then you can tweak those, you can just see how the image is changing. So if you were to pick something like this that's clearly more turquoise shading, then what you'll see is the circles have changed over here. So see the shadows? The color is whatever's inside this small circle, it is definitely moved more towards the turquoise. And if you want to back it off, there's this slider over here. You'll see the circle move back towards neutral. We're adding more turquoise. So let's say we want somewhere in-between for our shadows. You can see the mid-tones up here, the circle's just a little more towards the red. If you wanted to add more red, which I would not suggest, you could start sliding that up, or if you wanna get rid of red altogether. We'll leave it about where it was. And now, over for your highlights, it looks like this filter adds a little more yellowish-red, orange if you will, to the highlights so you can see how that looks. If you up it, it really affects his skin tone. The other thing over here is your overall brightness, so you'll see highlights, you can adjust this slider, and just watch how the highlights go brighter, darker, I usually leave it pretty standard. I don't mess with that stuff in here, I leave that for Photoshop. So this would be something that you could color-tone and present almost as a final image if you really wanted to, straight from Capture One. And then there's this quick reset arrow up here. We'll just click that, now it's back to as-shot, there's no color adjustments done. So what I'm gonna do is, we've kept that one starred, we're gonna work on a couple more within Photoshop quickly, and then we're gonna move to a different set so we'll just pick one of these closer-up images. And we're not gonna work all these up in Photoshop but I do want to do a couple. So let's just pick a standard portrait here. Again, we'll go back up to our adjustment tab, local adjustments, we'll up the shadows, so we have a nice flat image. Get rid of any blown-out highlights. There we go, we'll star that, 'cause then we'll sort 'em at the end. We're probably good there, we'll do one of, actually we're gonna save one of these ones with the on-camera flash look for our model Maggie. And these, you can see, this was the difference when we were doing the lighting ratios from that one-to-one ratio, versus a one-to-two, one-to-four, and so on. So just as a reminder, using that accent light, we'll edit one of these just because it's something a little bit different. I do like that one. And I like that one. So we'll bring those up when we sort 'em by favorites. We'll move onto Maggie really quick. She obviously had a great look, that was this on camera flash look. This was really easy to use with her because not only did her skin tone handle the light well, her attitude and look went well, you know, you see that leather jacket and everything, it had that edge and that light has an edge, so it was a great combination for that. So we're just gonna quickly look through, I'm gonna pick a couple. I like that one. I'm just looking for that general look, and I'm also looking for sharpness. I like that one, how both hands are up, it's crop-able. We're gonna get something where she's looking over that shoulder, and the light's how I want it. Yeah, we had a lot of movement and things like that. I do like that. I'm just gonna select a few quickly and basically, again, I'm just looking for that one thing, that when I look at it, it looks good, it looks right, it catches my eye. That's awesome. That's great but it's not sharp. So I'm just gonna quickly grab a few more of these. I love that, just the difference in having her lips open just a little bit more. Just adds a little more attitude. You know, even something there from a head tilt, it just adds more to that attitude. That's awesome. And we'll get one of these ones with a lot of movement. All right, we'll move forward, this was when we had that harsh light from the side. And this was the difference between that reflector on the light and then we switched up to the umbrella, you can see how the falloff changed on the background and just the overall light quality. We'll pick something like this to play with in Capture One. These are the ones where I pictured that gritty black and white happening. So we're gonna select one of these to work on. And then we'll play with that more, once we get into alien skin. But again, I'm always thinking of what's gonna happen in the next step, when I'm editing RAWs, so everything's done with a purpose. These were all shot near the end of the studio session. Oh yeah, and then this is when we had the one-to-one lighting ratio again with her walking in-studio. So we'll grab one of these, you can even see the difference. I don't know why this happens but this is with a 50 millimeter lens, and this is when I switched to the 7200, there's a slight color shift so sometimes even your equipment can have a little bit of a change because the white balance in both of these, if you look up here, is both 5570, but you can see as soon as I switch from the 50 to the 7200, it got more green, so you know, just a slight shift just because of equipment so knowing your stuff, and I know, even when I switch from a 7200 to a 50, there's about a third of a stop or a little bit less difference in light, the 50 seems to let in more light, even at the exact same settings. While that doesn't make any sense, really, I know my equipment, so I know I have to accommodate that. So we're gonna grab one of these, it's also hard for me to tell, I normally edit not at 720 but the settings for the computer so it can tether a little different, so some of these look really out of focus and I'm wondering what happened but I'm guessing some of these are more sharp than I think so we'll just pick one and go with it. Let's go, I'm looking at her legs and, oh yeah, this is a good one here, let's see. I don't like how her hair's tucked behind her ear there. So I'm definitely gonna lean towards that. And now we zoomed in with that 7200. Oh, yeah. And then this was with the wide-angle at the end, so just a little lighthearted. But you can just see how shooting a ton when you have a lot of things going on like hair moving, you need to take more frames because, again, within each of these sets, there's probably one or two images that I really love, and probably 18 or 19 that I'll just get rid of. So that's that, as far as studio stuff that we'll work with. Let's go back to the pre-shoot. Here we go. So this was the stuff shot on location at the park. Some of these, let's see, some of them were strictly for lighting so we'll avoid those because they're pretty stiff. But I do like some of these shots as far as personality. I know I've already edited some as you saw in the pre-shoot video. We'll do something with this because I do like it, you can see here, I've already flattened it out a little bit. And I've already taken away some of that saturation. So, again, if you want to see it, how it was shot, deeper shadows, so I just brought those back up to create a flatter image so I'd have something to work with that I know is gonna benefit me when I'm editing it later. Yep, so I'm just going through all the actions we were doing, you guys have seen most of these already. Here's another look at the outdoor ones. I do like that one. Again, you can see I edited this one for the video earlier. You know, I brought down the highlights, just to bring that sky back down. And then shadows were down here, I brought them up just to flatten it out. I'm gonna take away even more saturation. And I can see there's a little bit of redness in her face. This might be a good one to zoom in on and show you how Capture One works with skin tones. Actually, it's not bad, she's squinting a little bit too, but that's okay. You can go back to your color editor within Caption One, and you can go down to color editor. Hit the skin tone tab and what's really cool about this is you click the eyedropper, go to any point within the skin tones, we'll just pick something right here on her forehead. And you can see it selected a range of tones that is now in the skin tones. I always expand that a little bit, in case there's more stuff in the highlights or shadows. And now what you see down here are two boxes of color. The one on the left is the original skin tone. The one on the right is what we're gonna do to it, how it's gonna end up. So within this is smoothness, hue rotation, saturation, lightness and the overall uniformity of what you're doing and how it's equaling out the skin. One of the things I do is I always bring the saturation down because I want the skin to be a little less saturated. You can see if we do an extreme, she goes gray, well the rest, her shirt's not, that's not a good look for anybody but I always bring it down just a little bit. Hue rotation, if you wanna bring in more greens, or more reds, it kind of circles around here so you'll see, if I move this all the way to the left, it's gonna become a lot more red in the skin tones. If I move it all the way to the right, oops. She's gonna be more green. I always like to get rid of some reds so we'll make her a little more green. And then another thing you can do is overall lightness. So you can see how using those tones that we selected, they're brightening or darkening. I don't touch that much because I've already done that with my other RAW. One other last thing you can do is the overall uniformity. So this just adds to the whole selection, I don't touch that much either. And then the last thing you can do is, you can manually select what color so, here's kind of the general spot within the color wheel. If I move this up or down, you'll see how her skin will change, so up here is turning more towards green, you can see on the color wheel, green's up here. If I move it down here, it'll add more blues or reds. You know, it's pretty subtle, but you can see it's just changing the selected range that I'm adjusting. And I'm gonna leave that back where we originally selected so if you want to see a before and after, you know, you can see down here, it's really subtle, but it's a good way to remove red from skin and then you can apply this setting to any within that set, so if we wanted to select all these others where we knew the lighting was the same, her outfit was the same, the whole color was the same, we could apply that to any of those skin tone range within any of those images and it makes it so you only have to do it once. And again, we'll mark that as something we'll wanna edit later. Moving on, again, when I spoke earlier about wanting that grid within the ballet images, what I meant by that was, let's zoom out here, and select one of these. It's not wanting me to do that. There we go. Basically what I wanted was more control over the lights so back here I wanted this to fade to darkness because I didn't have a grid on the beauty dish, it was a much wider spread, so that's why I actually enjoy some of these images a little more, where we were letting in that light. So that was one, we can throw that one in there. And you can see back, on our tabs, I've already brought down the highlights because there was a lot of light coming in the back. I've already upped the shadows so I've just, again, flattened it out so I have something to work with, that I know will work well with the editing I'm gonna do on the back end. Here's some of the ballet images, you can see it takes a whole team to get ready. And then getting her posed and the lights set up, there's the beauty dish off to the left. And these are all done with the 50. And then you'll be able to tell when I switched to the 200, I mean, look at the difference in how the trees look, just going from 50 to 200, the compression that happens. So we'll pick one of these to edit. Let's do that one, again, same thing. Bring up the shadows just a little bit, we'll definitely bring down the highlights and get rid of some of that saturation. So this is kind of the process I go through, one of the things I want to show you is this is not a session that I shot here, this is a senior from another session. A lot of times when I'm trying to, so this actually shows a little more personality because it wasn't done in the environment here. This is an example of somebody walking through a field, we've already gone through, it's an actual, you know, senior where we're shooting, trying to get that personality. It's all naturally-lit. So if you watch, you'll see this is how I shoot, I'm walking backwards through a field, and it's almost like a stop-motion video. So I've already instructed her how to move, you know, telling her where to spin, all those sorts of things, and this is shot with the 35. See, you can just see how we're capturing that personality, now switch and do it over again, she's constantly moving, I'm constantly shooting, and you know, a look like that is good. And just catching hair and natural looks where everything's moving and everything's coming together, but you can see how much I'm shooting within that session, and in that look, to capture, you know, not something like that, but something like that, where everything comes together. It does take a lot of clicks of the shutter to get that look. And again, I'm telling her, in this field in particular, over to the left is a whole bunch of evergreen trees that are just soaking up light. But off to our right, is a wide open sky so I'm telling her to either be looking at the camera or off towards the right because I want that light in her eyes so you'll see generally when she's gonna be looking away, it's gonna be off to that side, because I want her looking back towards the light. You know, a lot of spinning, and when I have her spin this way, it's because that happens, she ends up looking off towards the light. So it's all planned out, and then, you know, once you have those technical details figured out, it's just a matter of doing it and shooting and maintaining focus so I'm always on continuous focus so my focus is tracking her and my camera's on high speed as far as shutter so it's clicking away because each of these walks is, you know, we're getting multiple shots per step and I'm not so worried about her steps when we're going through the field as I would be if I were further away, trying to get the flattering shot of her feet, 'cause you can't really see 'em in most of these. The last thing I'll show you is, like I said, we start off every shoot with that photo booth. This is how we started with Anna at the park, and these are the images with that on-camera flash, and you'll see, you know, we have some good looks here, just, you never know what's gonna happen. She starts getting her goofy, you know, something like that, I don't care about that, but then look what happens immediately afterwards. You know, so it went from that, "Oh I feel goofy" and then boom. Like, one second later, you know, nice, genuine looks, and you know, then she'll do something goofy again, and then she instantly starts laughing again. So you get those looks, same thing with Noah. It's like, nice portrait, he starts getting goofy. And then, he instantly starts laughing. So it's getting those moments between the moments that I keep talking about and this is a good example of why you keep shooting, and again, I'm telling him to do something crazy, but then I want that natural laugh and smile that happens right afterwards when he's, you know, kind of almost forgot that he was getting his picture taken. All right, so let's sort these out by rating. And as you'll see, up at the top, I had already marked some of these from when I edited them for the pre-shoot video, but you'll see the ones I picked, they're all the moments between the moments. A couple of him that I thought were candid, they're sharp, they captured his expression, and they were a good example of what I was talking about. And then some of Anna, so we'll export some of these, so how Capture One works with exporting photos, is you click on this output tab. Within the output tab, is just your general settings. It's your process recipe, so every file that we process from this group will be done with this recipe. These files are about 7,500 pixels in the long edge, they're 36 megapixel, Nikon D810 files. We'll just process them at 6,000 pixels on the long edge. You can do it so it's just the original file. But for today, we'll do this. I do everything at 300 pixels and an sRGB color space because that's what my printer uses. At 100 quality, JPEGs. You can do other adjustments, you can create watermarks within Capture One, all that. You can also rename anything. I'm not gonna do that, you can do output naming so you could have, it could be, their name, job name and then underscore or whatever you want to do, with senior sessions, I do do that, because that way, we can have something to reference later so it's always their initials, underscore, and then a four-digit number. It helps Nicole go through everything and know which ones, plus when we're referencing 'em, rather than every file be DBP-whatever, plus these start over every 10,000 files because of how I originally set my camera, which wasn't a great idea. There are duplicates within my computer if I did that, so since we rename everything by job, every job name has its own specific title and it makes it easy to find. So we won't do any naming here, we're just gonna leave 'em as they were out of the camera. Output location, so you can, within the folders on my computer, you can have an output location so we'll go into this pre-folder. We'll just name it "e2" for today. And then, what that does is, within here, where we're gonna store our files, choose a folder, it'll be in our CLpre, e2. We're choosing that as our output folder, so every file we process will go right in there, with its original name. So let's just select a couple of these, I did like this one, I know we already did it, but it's a good example. So you could either select 'em, and then individually process or process 'em as a batch. I'm gonna process 'em individually so we've already done our basic work here; highlights, shadows and all that. We'll process that one. And as soon as they're processed, the little gear down here turns orange, letting you know that that's the one that it's working on. And as soon as it's done, it'll turn white. I've already processed these at once so, for these ones, so you won't be able to see that, but once we move down to the ones from the studio that I haven't touched yet, they will look quite a bit different. Let's choose one of these ones from out here. We'll go with this one 'cause we haven't edited it yet. And then we'll just move straight into the studio. So we were gonna do this one, I'm gonna open up the shadows even more. We'll do that one so you can see there is no gear down there 'cause we've never processed it so as I hit that, it'll turn orange and then white when it's done. We'll do this one. We'll do both of these, if you want to select multiple, it's just a command-click. You can even do side-by-sides. Oh, I didn't touch these yet, so we're gonna bring the shadows up. Definitely gonna bring the highlights down, get rid of some saturation. And we'll call that good. Again, because we used the meter so much, I haven't had to correct any exposure on any of these, other than, you know, shadow and highlight. And that's just because I feel like doing that for how I process. And now we'll do a couple of these, bringing up the shadows, that one looks great. And you can also, let's say I really like what I did to this image, you could click this arrow and that copies all your settings from your previous RAW, and then we can go to the next one, and click the down arrow, and there. It'll do the exact same thing so if you know that all these images have the same light, same exposure and you want the same idea, you can just edit one, copy those settings, and then click all of them, paste those to those, so now you can see, it just did all those in one click. So you don't have to go through and do that to all of them. And then that way, you'll get a consistent look and it's a time-saver. So now I know all of these, these were shot a little closer up so we're gonna bring the exposure down a little bit. I don't know how I clicked that earlier, oops. That's not right. And we'll bring that down. So there we go. Do the same for that, so then you can also process them all at the same time so we'll shift-click first one to last one, hit process, it'll do all those. Let's do this one real quick. We're gonna, again, lighten her up and process. This one, I'm looking forward to editing later. We're definitely gonna lighten that up. Process. Flatten that out even more. Good to go, okay, so those are all the ones, we're not gonna work on all of them in Photoshop 'cause we're not gonna be here all day. But that's just the start of ones that I like, a good selection.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials

Lighting Gear List

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Lighting Terms Guide

Ratings and Reviews

pete hopkins

awesome teacher and awesome technique. after soooo many webinars, it's really great to see someone break it down to the bare bones of lighting with exceptional quality results. i can listen to Dan all day. no pretense, no over the top emotional pleas, no drama! did i say awesome!!!! Plus, I'm a huge fan of the B! and B2 systems. Freedom is key. Now I can shoot anywhere, anytime. Thanks Dan.


This is by far the best class on senior photography I have found on creativelive. Dan explains the technical aspects in an easy to understand format. He does a great job going through studio shots, outdoor shots, editing and marketing. He's given me some great ideas and inspired me to be more creative. I am going to rewatch the lighting set up for the "hero shot". It's super cool!

Tristanne Endrina

Dan was great. His class was very comprehensive but easy to follow. The slides he used weren't flashy. Instead, they were simple and he went at a good pace. I left feeling like I could really pull off the lighting techniques he taught. I'm excited to put what I learned into my photography. :) Thanks, Dan.

Student Work