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Behind the Scenes: Jaime DeMarco Workflow with Capture One Pro 7

JAIME DEMARCO, fashion and lifestyle photographer

Jaime DeMarco began his career as senior photographer for Urban Outfitters at age 22. Today as a successful fashion and lifestyle photographer, with clients such as DKNY, Free People, E! Entertainment Television, and People Magazine, Jaime is known for his ability to bring to life the unique character of each of his subjects. Like his idol Helmut Newton, he plays the role of a professional 'hired gun,' bringing with him the highest level of creativity, energy and photographic experience to every single assignment.

“What is remarkable with Capture One Pro is that people shooting today who are using the Nikon D800 or Canon EOS 5D Mark II camera can get the same software functionality as I get with a $40,000 Phase One digital back. Granted, the camera itself makes a difference—the hardware, lenses, 16-bit capture. But basically, the software will take whatever you throw at it —whether it’s raw from Leaf, Canon, whatever, no hicupping … From a workflow standpoint it’s unbelievable that it can work in all formats so seamlessly.” —Jaime DeMarco

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PROJECT: EMPIRE BEAUTY SCHOOLS  
EQUIPMENT: Nikon D800e, Capture One Pro 7

BACKGROUND/INTRO: Capture One Pro 7 has an exceptionally versatile workflow. It was designed originally as one of the first available ‘digital presses’ and was created for professionals and agency people who needed to capture and process as quickly as possible. I’ve been using the software for many years. Some people still don’t know that it supports more than 300 different DSLR camera models (as well as medium format).

Capture One Pro 7 now offers two different ways of working: its traditional Sessions and a new Catalog structure. I prefer to work with Sessions because I can control everything from one pane. (Though if I were a stock or wedding photographer, the catalog feature would make a lot of sense, because I’d want to use tag and search, and it would save me time doing that.)

For this workflow, I am describing how I worked with my client Empire Beauty Schools and Nick Arrojo, who joined forces for a collaborative advertising project. I chose to use a Nikon D800E tethered to Capture One Pro 7 and strobes to accomplish it. The shoot took place in a room in the Hershey Convention Center that was made into an impromptu photo studio. I dropped canvas backdrops instead of using set paper. The shoot took place there, because it was the only time both creative teams could get together during a large hair show. 

 

Step One:
Create New Session

The first step on this or any other job is to create a new session. I clicked the plus button in the Library/File pane and named the session because I split the job into 4 sessions. There were a lot of planned looks, so I wanted to make sure it was easier to find them later. I also changed the capture name to a simpler one from the same windows. Finally, I selected where I wanted the images to go.

Where I store images depends on the client and how critical the save is. Right from the initial Session setup paneI I can choose to capture images on the laptop SSD or send them through to my RAID drive, bypassing the computer’s main SSD entirely.

 

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Click any image in this article for larger view.

STEP TWO:
Camera Set-up

I navigate to the camera pane, which I have customized with the tools that I use during capture.

Capture One Pro 7 allows me to set up and save multiple workspace configurations—my tabs and tools—the way I want them and then save the workspace. This is extremely useful because different shooting situations require different tools, some more and some less. I’m able to avoid having unnecessary distractions during capture, but can have all of the tools available during production.

I navigated to Window > Workspace and selected Beauty Tethered, which is my custom workspace for beauty shots. It moves the browser to the right, and then reconfigures the main categories, capture, color to include only the tools that I use for beauty shoots. My custom workspace includes the following tools under the Capture pane: exposure evaluation up top and capture naming underneath it, along with camera controls, information, and capture pilot. Under the Color pane I have base characteristics, white balance, color balance, and color editor. (I have the option to include or eliminate each tool from my workspace. If I find I need it for some reason, I can always add it again with a right-click.) 

I then look at my capture pilot and camera controls, and create a new server name. I use the basic capture version and create an ad hoc network—basically a private network originating from my MacBookPro—and I start the image server and log on my iPads.

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Next, I also check camera controls, ISO, and make sure the camera is tethered, etc.

Then I check to make sure the ICC profile is what I want it to be. I have created my own custom ICC tool that I’ve named d800e Generic. It has my basic, tweaked D800E color profile, which I created in Capture One Pro 7 using the Color Editor.

I shoot a color target, and once that’s in the camera I go to white balance gray, highlight the dropper, and pick middle gray. Then Capture One Pro 7 will set the balance and temperature of the shot.

For this job the creative director wanted me warm the images and push them a bit yellow. I simply pushed the color temp a few hundred degrees higher than the color picker gray balance detects.

STEP THREE:
Color Editor Tool

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This tool allows color editing independent of the simple gray balance; they are separate tools and do different things. The Color editing tool creates a custom profile or LUT for my cinema friends. Basically this process alters how Capture One Pro 7 interprets color information captured by the sensor. This tool lets me fine-tune that whole process and further refine the basic ICC profile correction I have custom made for my cameras.

Assuming you have a calibrated monitor, this is an essential step and probably my favorite tool in Capture One Pro 7. It provides color swatches that correspond to the color swatches on a GretagMacbeth color card. I take the basic color picker to select the color range that corresponds to the square on the color card and adjust the reds, blue, green, etc.

I do this for all of my cameras, but especially with 35mm DSLRs; these cameras just don’t have the same color accuracy as the 16-bit sensors in the medium-format cameras. With medium format, I can just go with the basic profile and the color is close to perfect. With 35mm DSLR sensors, I need to go farther than the profiles provided by the camera manufacturer to get the best result. Properly using the color tool will let you get as close as possible to accurate color and even closely match the color of different cameras used on the same set.

I then go and save it as a user preset, I could also send it out as an ICC profile if I wish.

If I change lighting or location, I can do it over again—it only takes about 5 minutes.

This whole process can also be done later as long as you capture a raw file. In fact, I always repeat it and do a final color pass before final file processing in controlled light on a calibrated monitor.

STEP FOUR:
Set up shooting parameters 

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As you can see, I use a simplified workspace for capture without a lot of junk on screen. Tools can always be added separately (and saved later as another capture workspace). It saves me a lot of time to be able to save a customized capture space to the needs of each job. My workflow changes as the situation changes, and different tools are relevant for different jobs, but here are some of the key tools that I use:

I select my base style from the adjustments pull-down, which places all of my pre-settings on the following tools. I then just tweak the settings for the job; the whole process takes a few minutes. Capture One Pro 7 allows me to save and name multiple styles so that I save time when working with files, and I can preview and switch on the fly. I can show two options to a creative director with one click instead of having to change multiple setting while they wait.

A) EXPOSURE, CONTRAST, SATURATION I like to add a bit of contrast depending on the camera and how my S-Curve has affected the capture. For this shoot I felt it needed a bit more contrast. I then desaturated the captures a few points. I almost always push the exposure 3/10 or a bit more. I prefer to shoot dark and underexpose, then bring it up in Capture One Pro 7.

It’s a leftover habit form shooting Velvia film 1/3-stop dark and pushing it in the darkroom. With the Nikon D800 and Canon EOS 5D Mark III, the HDR slider comes in very handy; you can cheat and get back some dynamic range that would normally be lost when adding the contrast of a curve. This ability to unlock more of the dynamic range of the high-end DSLRs brings them a step closer to medium-format backs and allows me to use them on a broader range of jobs.

B) CLARITY TOOL I selected Punch mode as opposed to Neutral or Classic. I set Punch to Clarity-18 and Structure-8, which added some artificial contrast to the edges of the images for more of a medium-format look. If used properly it can do a nice job of drawing out eyes in beauty shots. 

C) CURVE I made a basic S-Curve to add some more contrast to the images. I have a base setting that I always use that I didn’t change.

STEP FIVE
The Shoot

After I shot a few test shots for lighting and composition I pulled the best test shot up on the iPad with Capture Pilot and spoke about it with the creative director to make sure it works for both clients and the rest of the creative team. Once we were sure we were all on the same page, I called for final hair, make-up, and styling touches, and I began to shoot. I shot until I felt I had a few strong final options and then gave the creative director, her team, and clients the time to make sure they have the options they need for final selection.

The first round of selections were made with Capture Pilot using the rating system to get the top choices, and they ended up with quite a few selects. Once everyone was satisfied that we had a lot of potential winners to choose from we moved on to the next look.

I use Capture Pilot, because it seems like everyone has an iPad and iPhone. I just have the clients download the Capture Pilot app from the App Store. They start the app and select the Job Name. Then the creative director and everyone else can follow the shoot in real time without crowding around the capture computer. It’s great because I don’t have to worry about a client accidently touching a setting or asking the digital tech or me to navigate and star files for them. It frees us up to do more worthwhile things. The client and creatives can select right from their device independent of what we are doing in Capture One Pro 7.

Finally, I backed up everything to a second SSD after each look is selected. I captured the D800E fils as raw NEF and then converted them all to Phase One EIPs once the day wrapped. I convert all of my captures to EIP whether shooting a Phase back or DSLR because it ensures that when the files are opened or moved to another computer, Capture One shows the images as I intended. My settings and copyright information ae saved as part of the file and it retains all of the raw file information and quality. I also know that my raw (EIP) files are not accessible to anyone with Photoshop. This helps limit the people with access to my raw files.

STEP SIX
Web Gallery Export

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After we wrapped for the day I made a web contact sheet of the first round of selects and uploaded them to my server with a blind link from Capture One Pro 7. The client reviewed and narrowed down from the first round of selects made on set that evening. I then remade the contact sheets with their top 10 selects from each look and allowed them a few days to make final selects for processing and retouching. Using the web contact sheet has become my method for allowing clients to select images. It makes my life easy and clients love that they can see the results in the gallery as soon as it's uploaded. It takes less than 15 minutes to build a gallery and does not cost extra because it’s part of Capture One Pro 7. The web contact sheet tool automates the process, making a preview from the selects for web and letting me choose how big (and therefore how much quality is shown).

STEP SEVEN
Production and Processing

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After final selections are made I begin final production and processing. I work on a 10-bit 30-inch color-calibrated monitor. I go through the same steps as earlier and make sure I’m still happy with all of my color and exposure settings. I then go on to correct

A) NOISE REDUCTION I turned this off. I always turn this off when shooting at the native ISO and proper exposure and light with the Nikon D800E, Phase One IQ160, or Mamiya Aptus II.

B) LOCAL ADJUSTMENTS This is a key thing, especially for hair assignments. I can draw my mask over the hair and from there add contrast and exposure. Then, if I get moiré in the clothing, I can correct only the garment. I had seven different zones in one image.  By doing this I’m able to use raw sensor data to add or subtract light and contrast from isolated areas and control light in small areas. No other editing program allows me to edit raw data from the sensor, and it allows so much more latitude than working with a processed file.

C) LENS PROFILES I used the correction filter to add a bit of distortion to narrow the center of the faces. I know it’s the opposite of what the tool is supposed to be used for, but breaking the rules can sometimes bring excellent results.

D) COLOR EDITOR ROUND 2 I fine-tune all of my on-set adjustments in a controlled environment.

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E) PROCESSING I processed the final images as .psd files (from the process pane). I used the Adobe 1998 color profile, which is more suitable for Nikon which uses it as its native color space. I processed the finals as a 16-bit file at 100% size for skin correction in Photoshop. I then embedded my copyright info; a nice feature of the processing in Capture One Pro 7 is that files can be output with copyright and camera information embedded. I then renamed the files EmpireArrojoHershey2013_ with a 2-digit counter to the location that I specified (in this case it goes to the default output for my session).

That completes my workflow with Capture One Pro 7 for this job, and I’m ready to send the files to post for skin, liquify, and fly-away hair. My process keeps color and exposure in my control and not in the hands of a retoucher. That’s something I prefer as someone who loved the darkroom.

For me, Capture One Pro 7 is invaluable; I actually could give up Photoshop at this point for all levels and color correction. I rely on the fact that Capture One Pro 7 accepts so many different cameras—I can plug and unplug them and keep shooting tethered (true plug-and-play).

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An editorial note from Jaime DeMarco:

I’m a Creative Cloud member and have downloaded Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, and it’s a decent program, but not for a professional studio. I could not set up an agency shoot with Lightroom and be taken seriously, at least with my group of clients.

I don’t like Adobe’s new strategy. I don’t like that now I’m renting the software and am forced to keep paying for the ability to use it. That’s what I like about Capture One Pro 7—it’s mine for life, it’s my choice to upgrade. I don’t lose my right to use the program I’ve paid for.

I’ve experienced a few Creative Cloud issues during its monthly check to make sure I’m paying my fees. I’ve had Creative Cloud tell me that I’m not registered to use my products at log-in and had to fiddle with it to make it realize that I’m a licensed user. I don’t need another thing to fix; time is money for most of us using stuff at this level. My purchased version of CS6 opened every time once it was registered.