Capture One 20 HDR and Levels in Layers

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One of the main features of Capture One 20 is the new HDR tool.
It gives you much more control over image contrast, but it also works great with other tools of Capture One.

Download Capture One 20, and let’s see what we could get out of this flat image using the new HDR and Levels in layers.

Video

First of all, we need to set black and white points on this image. If we use RGB Levels for this, we’ll get a noticeable color cast.

To avoid this, open Capture One preferences and set Channel mode to Red, Green and Blue Channels.

Now Capture One auto-levels adjust each channel separately. This provides a much more natural color.

If you wish, you can get an even more clear image by desaturating the blue color in Color Editor. Plus, it makes sense to lighten dark areas a bit with Black slider to have more information there.

The next step is to increase image contrast. Regular Contrast slider would have a significant impact on image color, and this is a case where new HDR works way better.

I’m creating a new filled layer and making shadows darker. It allows us to increase image contrast without affecting color.
Plus, I’ll add clarity to this layer to make the image look a bit deeper.

Now, only one issue remains: dark areas became black.
So, we need to restrict this layer from affecting dark parts of the image. It can be easily done with Luma Range tool. It transforms a layer mask according to selected brightness levels.

Thus, we have a perfect contrast with natural color and balanced shadows.

You can finish the editing now, but I would suggest making a final touch to polish image color. I don’t like this color cast in dark areas and clouds, but I don’t want to desaturate blue color on the whole image again.

Fortunately, there is a simpler solution. Create a new layer, copy mask from the first layer and invert Luma range settings.

Now, let’s desaturate blue color on this layer… perfect!

So, here is what we have done in few minutes with this image!


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About Author

Alexander Svet – Professional photographer and photography instructor. Phase One Certified Professional and Capture One beta tester.