Monthly Archives: April 2012

Using the Capture One overlay tool

In the bad old days of analogue when shooting Time Out magazine covers or Music Sales book covers for Pearce Marchbank he had an ingenuous method for enhancing workflow. He would produce a piece of clear film of the cover showing the position of all the type & in pro to the film format of the camera. I  then placed this in the camera viewfinder so that I could position models, props, etc to work around the typography that he had designed. A second, identical piece of film would be used to lay on top of Polaroids prior to making the final shot on film.

Clearly the guys at Capture One have taken this idea on board when they created the ‘overlay’ tool in the Capture One software for the Phase One. Here is a simple step by step on how to use it….

Import your shots into Capture One & select one frame.

Choose the ‘Composition’ option from the left side of the frame.

Move down to the ‘Overlay’ tab then across to button that carries the symbol ‘…’ to the right of ‘File’. Here you select a file for overlaying and navigate to it in the usual way.

The overlay comes in at 100%. Using the 4 sliders beneath the overlay tab you can adjust; opacity, scale, horizontal and vertical position.

Major adjustments to position can be made with the ‘hand’ tool, afterwards minor re-positioning takes place with the tools beneath the overlay tab (as described above).

This shows crop needed for a 48 sheet billboard poster with type ranged left

By returning to the overlay tab & clicking the down arrow at the right hand end of that bar the ‘Clear Overlay’ option is revealed which allows  the opportunity to remove the existing overlay prior to importing a different one.

In addition it’s possible to position the overlay as desired then crop down using the crop tool thus darkening the unwanted image area and confirm that the shot wrk to a different pro, in this case a 96 sheet billboard.

Crop needed for a 96 sheet billboard poster with type ranged left

Overall this tool is absolutely invaluable, saves great amounts of time and makes you look good in front of clients and in my view is another great plus to the Phase One/Capture One.

A debt of gratitude to PM for introducing me to this technique many years ago.


Filed under Capture One, Tech Tips

iPhone in the Wilderness

Above Ladybower, Peak District

At Shadows and Light we encourage you to remain open to the unexpected and embrace it whenever you have the opportunity. Last month Matt posted a piece about using the iPhone with apps such as Hipstamatic and Instagram as a practical tool for visualisation of future shots – particularly useful for landscape work.

Over the Easter vacation I made a trip to the Peak District however the weather had turned cold with an icy wind. I walked a lot, the snow had drifted over 1 ft deep, so the iPhone was by far the best tool to use in this instance.

Sun Breaks Through, Peak District

My process is actually quite simple and is more or less unchanged to the way I go about all of my shots;

1. Look for the image first.

2. Choose the ‘lens’ and ‘film’ as offered by the app.

3. Carefully compose the shot on the screen.

4. Shoot!

Arbor Low, stone circle, ver 1, Peak District

Admittedly this is not the Phase One or Large Format but then on a day with uncertain weather and at new locations the iPhone actually allows me to generate markedly different images and just now I find it more satisfying than my Canon G9. What’s more, it fits in my pocket and weighs practically nothing – which is more than I can say for those other cameras!

Arbor Low, stone circle, ver 2, Peak District

You may think to yourself, ‘Well, they look fine on screen but they’ll never print…’ nevertheless  I’ve found that if I export the iPhone files as TIFFs then process them through Lightroom or Capture One I’m able to print full frame onto A3 paper and I still have to try them on A2 paper.

Instagram has an added advantage in that it allows you to shoot using the phone’s built-in camera then import the files into the app afterwards.

Wooden Signpost near Ladybower, Peak District

So a decidedly cold and threatening weekend has rewarded me with a bunch of unusual pictures and, at the very least, 8 – 10 new locations, some of which will come up in future Shadows and Light workshops. Keep an eye on the web site, the blog or join the mailing list to see what tours will happening in the coming months.


Filed under Trip Reports

Light Painting in Wiltshire

Light Painting, Avebury Stones, March 2012

Details: Phase One c/w IQ160, 35mm, 1/30 sec, f14, 200 ISO, no filtration, 1 flash

I always relish a challenge and this was certainly just that. Leaving home at 01.00 to meet the team then drive 140 miles (225 km) with a car full of Elinchrom Ranger Quadra lights, the Phase One camera system and a Nikon to shoot the time lapse we headed out along the M4 away from London. These sort of shoots are always a gamble as the weather or the light doesn’t always work out so I need a head full of optional ideas ‘just in case’.

On this day good fortune was with us. Though the previous day had been very warm and overnight the temperature had fallen considerably causing for a damp atmosphere we weren’t greeted with dense mist as can often form as dawn approaches.

We reached Avebury at 03.45 and were set up by 04.30 with the Nikon already runing in repeat mode to provide over 1000 jpeg stills as content for the DV below and a Sony digital recorder fitted with an external mic to pick up background sound.

My plan was to do a light painting exercise of the stones using the Ranger kits. This is a technique I first learnt as an assistant 30 years ago when we would light industrial machinery in engineering works using just one photoflood tungsten head. I knew that the moment was essential – getting the right balance between a brightening sky before the sun rose whilst having sufficient darkness to make the power/intensity of the flash pull the stones out from the shadows. I shot a total of 23 frames, the entire shoot was completed by 06.45 and we got to Marlborough in time for breakfast at 08.30. A very productive night and day’s photography.

Why not watch the video to get a feel what it was like and for a sense of what happens on Shadows and Light workshops? Listen to the crows greeting the dawn, they always know best.

Time lapse video

Shadows & Light video page


Filed under Lighting