Exposure and contrast

Exposure / Local Adjustment / Brightness / Contrast / Saturation

Use the Capture One Exposure Tool Tab to adjust exposure, contrast, brightness, saturation, levels and clarity.

Managing exposure

  1. Press the Exposure Warning icon (see circled, or View>Show Exposure Warnings) to highlight areas of an image that may be overexposed.
    A (default) red color will fill any areas that may be burnt out. (Find out how to change the Exposure warning settings).
  2. Use the High Dynamic Range tool to help recover loss of detail in highlights and shadow areas.
    The Highlight and Shadow slider will also affect all colors and shades.
    Start by trying to carefully recover the information (pixels) hidden in the highlights and then gently adjust the shadow tones. The Exposure tool will change the appearance of colors.
  3. Use Local Adjustments to alter the exposure if there are specific areas of an image that are overexposed.

Tip: The Exposure tool will change the appearance of colors. Tones will often appear over saturated but this can be remedied by reducing the Saturation Slider value appropriately.

Press the Exposure Warning icon (see circled) to highlight areas of an image that may be overexpose

Exposure Evaluation

Exposure Evaluation (in the Capture Tool Tab) displays a histogram of the latest captured raw file. Subsequent adjustments made to the raw file will be reflected in any histograms that are located in the tool tabs. However, the Exposure Evaluation Histogram will stay as originally captured, as it refers to the raw file.

The Exposure meter is located directly below the Exposure Evaluation Histogram. This meter provides an indication of under/overexposure that is based on center weighted measuring and calculated in aperture values.

The Exposure meter can be easily seen at long viewing distances to make estimating the exposure value easier when shooting tethered in a studio or on location. 

Exposure Evaluation (in the Capture Tool Tab) displays a histogram of the latest captured raw file

Adjust exposure

  1. Go to the Exposure tool in the Exposure Tool Tab.
  2. Use the exposure slider to adjust the value up or down.

Note: This slider is calibrated to provide a range of +/- 4 stops. It adjusts the exposure in a similar way to the controls on a camera.

,Go to the Exposure tool in the Exposure Tool Tab, use the exposure slider to adjust the value up or down

Adjust contrast, brightness and saturation

  1. Go to the Exposure Tool Tab.
  2. In the Exposure tool, adjust the Contrast slider to the right to increase contrast throughout the image. Move it to the left to decrease contrast.
  3. The Exposure tool also incorporates a Brightness slider that will primarily affect the mid-tones of an image. Move the slider to the left to increase mid-tone contrast or to the right to lighten shadow areas and reduce contrast.
  4. Adjust the Saturation slider to increase or decrease the saturation of an image.

Adjust contrast, brightness and saturation

Adjust high dynamic range images

  1. Go to the Exposure Tool Tab.
  2. In the High Dynamic Range tool, use the Shadow slider to adjust dark areas and the Highlight slider for bright and over exposed areas.
  3. The Auto adjust button (A) will provide a good starting point. (Press the A icon).

Adjust exposure with this tool

Levels

The histogram in the Levels Tool plots the brightness and RGB values of an image from the darkest/blackest pixels on the left to the brightest/whitest on the right. As a visual guide the plot can reveal a number of characteristics about the image, such as the range and distribution of shadow, mid-tones and highlights, or tonal range.

In the combined RGB Channel mode the Levels Tool may be used to adjust the contrast and brightness of an image, either manually or automatically using the Auto Levels option. Using the Auto option, Black and White points are mapped to the set output levels (0 and 255 respectively, if left as default). RGB values are re-distributed to avoid color shifts, regardless of manual or Auto point selection.

The color balance can be adjusted using the individual RGB channel mode, however there is no auto-option and care is required to prevent color shifts.

The histogram in the Levels Tool plots the brightness and RGB values of an image from the darkest/blackest pixels on the left to the brightest/whitest on the right

Adjust tonal range using input levels Pro

  1. Go to the Exposure Tool Tab.
  2. In the Levels tool, use the Auto (A) function or adjust by pulling the shadow and highlight point sliders until they’re just touching either ends of the histogram. 
  3. Check Highlight and Shadow warnings to identify any clipped pixels, and adjust as needed.
  4. Adjust the middle slider to lighten or darken mid-tones as desired. 
  5. Optionally, press Red, Green or Blue buttons to access and adjust separate R, G and B channels using the sliders.
  6. Levels settings may be saved as a preset and applied to multiple images.

Note: Output levels can be set manually by adjusting the sliders at the top of the histogram or by entering values in the boxes directly above. The default levels of 0 and 255 may be permanently overridden in the Preferences section, see here for more details.

Tip: The Levels preferences can be accessed from the Levels tool’s action menu icon. Press the […] icon and select Preferences.

In the Levels tool, use the Auto (A) function or adjust by pulling the low/mid/highlight point

Adjust tonal range using shadow and highlight picker (optional) Pro

  1. Go to the Exposure Tool Tab.
  2. In the Levels tool, select the Shadow Picker (see highlighted in orange) and click on a dark area of your image in the Viewer.
  3. Select the Highlight Picker and click on a bright area of your image in the Viewer.
  4. Adjust the middle slider to lighten or darken mid-tones, as desired.
  5. If necessary, press Red, Green or Blue to access and adjust separate R, G and B channels using the sliders.

Tip: The individual RGB Channel mode may be used to add a color tint for creative effect.

Adjust input levels using shadow and highlight picker

Curves

The Curve adjustment tool is one of the most powerful tools in Capture One. It is used to remap the tonal range of the original image values (represented by the horizontal axis) to the new, modified values (represented by the vertical axis of the graph). The lower left and upper right zones of the graph denotes the shadow and highlight regions of the image respectively, while the area in the middle represents the mid-tones.

Adding control points to the diagonal line and modifying the shape of the curve in the shadow, mid-tone and highlight areas alters the tonality and applies contrast and exposure adjustments by either stretching or compressing tones in the image. Although the Curve tool can be used to set the black and white points, it is usually best to do so with the Levels tool using Curves to make further adjustments to the brightness and contrast. The Curve tool allows greater flexibility and control of shadows and highlights and it is particularly useful when adjusting mid-tones. Note the Curve tool palette can be undocked and expanded for greater precision and control.

Capture One’s Curve tool may also be used to adjust the Luma and color balance of the image. Images processed using earlier versions of Capture One Pro must be updated to the Capture One 9 engine before being able to edit images using the Luma curve.

Select the Luma curve to adjust the brightness, or luminance component, and contrast of an image without affecting the color saturation. This improves accuracy when adjusting color balance using the individual (Red, Green and Blue) color channels. This tool also prevents banding and abnormal artifacts that are sometimes visible in transitions between colors, even when making more extreme adjustments.

Curves adjustment can be applied locally, see the local adjustment section for details.

Adjust exposure and contrast, or color using curves Pro

  1. Go to the Exposure Tool Tab.
  2. In the Curve tool, In the Curve tool, make sure the tool is set to RGB to adjust contrast and exposure (tonality). As an option, select individual Luma, Red, Green or Blue channels to adjust the luminance and color balance.
  3. Click directly on the diagonal line in the tonal region that you want to adjust to add a control point. (Dragging a point at the top of the diagonal line adjusts highlights, and moving a point in the center adjusts mid-tones. Moving a control point at the bottom adjusts the shadows.)
  4. Drag a control point up or down to lighten or darken the selected region (RGB and Luma mode only. In channel mode, moving a control up and to the left adds the chosen color, moving it down removes it.)
  5. Click and drag the control point to left or right to lower or increase contrast in the chosen region.
  6. Add more points to the curve to adjust other areas. (To remove a control point, click and press delete/backspace or drag it off the graph.)
  7. As an option you can also add points by selecting the Curve Point Picker and clicking on the area of your image that you want to adjust in the Viewer.

Note: Levels are used to control the overall tonal distribution of an image. Curves enables users to remap the area within the shadow and highlight limits that are set by the Levels tool.

Tips

  • Press the Manage Presets icon and use a Built-in Preset as a starting point.
  • When adjusting individual color channels, the Curve tool may be duplicated for each tab. Left click on the tool and select Add Tool > Curve. Repeat for each channel.

Curves enables users to remap the area within the shadow and highlight limits that are set by the Levels tool

Set black and white points using curves (optional) Pro

The Curve tool has moveable anchor points located in the upper right and lower left corners of the diagonal line. This makes it easy to set black and white points (remap the darkest and lightest values in the tonal range).

  1. Go to the Exposure Tool Tab.
  2. In the Curve Tool, position the cursor on one of the anchor points – a guideline will be displayed to help with the positioning.
  3. Click and hold the anchor point and then drag it to the desired position. For example, to remap the tonal range, move the anchor points horizontally so that the guidelines just touch the edge of the histogram.
  4. Repeat the procedure with the second anchor point.

Note: It may not be necessary to make adjustments to the new anchor points, if the black and white points have previously been set using the Levels tool.

New to the Curve tool in Capture One 8 is the addition of moveable anchor points, in the upper right and lower left corners of the diagonal line. The new anchor points make it easier to remap the darkest and lightest values in the tonal range

Clarity

The Clarity tool consists of two sliders that can be used to add or remove what is termed collectively as local contrast in images, and is particularly useful for making contrast corrections after using the High Dynamic Range tool.  The tool can also be used to diminish the effect of lens diffraction.

Small scale contrast can be adjusted using the Clarity slider. It can be used to reduce the effects of haze in images, for example, but negative values can be selected to lower contrast and smooth out or soften unwanted detail that can be useful in portrait images.

The Structure slider is used to adjust micro-contrast and therefore has a particularly noticeable effect on images that feature complex or small structures, such as fine branches, foliage, grass and textiles.

The Clarity Tool has four styles or methods for applying local contrast: Natural, Punch, Neutral and Classic. The method selected affects both the Clarity and Structure sliders, however the difference on the latter can be particularly subtle depending on the subject content.

  • Natural: This method applies milder local contrast than either the Punch or Neutral options and avoids false colors and clipped highlights. Low negative values may be used for softening portraits.
  • Punch: Adds higher values of local contrast than Natural or Classic methods and increases saturation slightly, however if applied heavily some highlight clipping may occur. Positive values using this method work well with landscapes.
  • Neutral: This method adds the same level of local contrast as Punch, however saturation remains unaltered. When applying heavy contrast corrections the Neutral method usually works best, resulting in a more realistic and pleasing effect.
  • Classic: The Classic option introduced in Capture One Pro 6 applies the mildest local contrast without increasing saturation. This method preserves highlight detail better than the Punch and Neutral options. Positive values using the Classic setting work well with architecture and on images with a degree of haze. Low negative values of Clarity may be used for softening portraits.

Adjust local contrast using clarity

  1. Go to the Exposure Tool Tab.
  2. Select the Clarity tool, choose from the Natural, Punch, Neutral or Classic setting from the Method drop-down menu and adjust the Clarity slider as necessary.
  3. Positive values increase mid-tone contrast whereas negative values lower it, producing a progressively softer look.
  4. The Structure slider is independent and enhances texture when positive values are applied. Edging the slider to the left into negative values has a more moderate softening effect than the Clarity slider.

Note: The Clarity tool can also be applied as a Local Adjustment.

Tip: Zoom the image to 100% in the Viewer or the Focus window to help in choosing the preferred Clarity method type and Structure.

Adjust clarity with this tool

Vignetting

Vignetting is a controlled exposure adjustment that will either darken or brighten the edges and corners of an image. The edges and corners will appear brighter when the EV value is added and darker when it is reduced.

  1. Go to the Lens Tool Tab and select the Vignetting tool.
  2. Select an image from the browser and choose the desired option from the Method drop down menu.
  3. Adjust the Amount slider to the right to lighten or the left to darken the edges and corners of an image.  

Note: Vignetting will be effected by any color tone that is applied to an image including the styles Sepia and Blue tone.

Vignetting is a controlled exposure adjustment that will either darken or brighten the edges and corners of an image

Saturation

Decreasing the saturation will ultimately turn an image black and white. This in turn will change the histogram from RGB to monochrome although the image will remain in a RGB color space as chosen by the output color space. This tool uses ‘intelligent saturation’ so it does more than simply affect normal saturation values. The positive values (attained when the slider is moved to the right) are comparable to what third party software often refers to as Vibrance. Vibrance is gentler to the skin tones and will be able to enhance, for instance, a blue sky without over-saturating the rest of the image. The negative values represent regular saturation settings.

Decreasing the saturation will ultimately turn an image black and white