A “workflow” for photography is the way you do things, in the sequence that you do them. I have a workflow in the morning when I get up. I find coffee and cigarettes. Later I take a shower, brush my teeth and put on clean socks.
That’s a workflow. I know where everything is, I know the sequence, the rhythm and how long it takes. I wouldn’t forget to put on socks, because I’ve established a workflow so I would know I had forgotten something.
Sometimes I improve my workflow. I decide not to check emails as the first thing but will read a chapter in a book instead. We optimize the workflow to improve speed and quality.
Computer workflow is the same. It may take some time to establish it, but it can become a seamless workflow – a way of doing things effectively and completely, without confusions, and with a consistently high-end product each time.
Problem is that you don't discover after ten years, you've been wearing the wrong socks. But in digital workflow, you sometimes gets surprises like that and rearlize you have to redo the last ten years of work or filing. It's important to get it right. The sooner, the better.
Fourteen years in the making
I have refined my digital workflow over the last 14 years, and I have made all the errors that you only see in hindsight, and then I have corrected my workflow and refined it further.
A lot of digital workflow is the same as analog workflow. Before we got digital cameras and scanners, there was a 100-year-old established workflow of taking photos, selecting them, copying them, presenting them and storing them.
Photography workflow has been around for many years. Only the tools have changed. The logics is the same with computers as with glass plates negatives as see in this picture.
That workflow is the ideal for your digital workflow, and if you remember that, it will be easier to decide what you want to do, when faced with “modern choices” such as back-up, geotagging, cloud computing, and more.
The key is the sanity of my philosophy; that total control and ownership of your images must always - at all times - lie with you. Which is something that is possible if you change from thinking with using a system provided by the software, to thinking with your own workflow system.
"VERY inspiring and revitalizing to say the least. I learned a lot and it really changed my viewpoint on the art and craft of photography."
- D. Z.
My Capture One Survival Kit and my Lightroom Survival Kit cover many things. For example, you can't edit photographs if you can't see them properly. So how do you calibrate a screen so it shows photographs accurately? The next question arises automatically, "Which color profile should I use?" (and what is a color profile, by the way?). And then automatically, that raises the question, "How bright should a screen be?". And what if you want to print your pictures?
And so it goes, and it is all answered in the Capture One Survival Kit and Lightroom Survival Kit as the questions naturally arise. There are so many things in digital workflow, and my purpose has been to make manuals that answers every question and set you up to be able to understand it easily and make the right decisions. How to get to a professional workflow in hours, not in years.
Workflow is about making photographs. It's not about learning computers.
Which one to get?
Lightroom came with every Leica camera for many years, so for most Leica users this was the natural choice. And there weren't that many others when Aperture by Apple ceased to exist (not that it mattered that much, because most agreed by then that Lightroom did a better job. Even the folks at Apple used Lightroom by that point).
It often comes down to which software for editing you are used to. But with the Creative Cloud introduced in Lightroom, and the monthly payment, I think Lightroom shot themselves in the foot. Fact is that not much has changed from Lightroom 2 to Lightroom 7. Each version has introduced very few improvements, while at the same time requiring more computer power to perform simple actions (in other words; Lightroom got slower and not better).
With the introduction of monthly payments to use a software that never really improves, I decided to look for something else. There are two things that are predictable. One is that when someone wants to secure their income independently of what they offer, that's usually only a good idea for the one who receives the money. The other is that any software (iPhone, Lightroom, Word, etc.) tends to get more and more complicated (and less simple and usable) as it develops over time. That is the case with not just Lightroom, but even iPhones. It used to be simple, and then it gets really complex; without performing any new tasks, really. They just keep adding stuff you don't need, but now you have to deal with it.
"I’m writing to you for a little insight and a word of appreciation. I waded through all your online articles last winter, set myself free, learned about keywords and my computer has become an efficient tool rather than a scrolling screen. Many thanks for helping me discover freedom and the magic of light!"
- C. C.
Changing from Lightroom to Capture One
I decided to explore Capture One. I have consistently downloaded every new version of Capture One (as I have other software like Hassselblad's Phocus software) to see how it looked now. Did it work for me?
Each time I was struck by the complexity of opening a new software, and I would return to what I knew well - Lightroom - each time. Except that in the summer of 2017, I decided that I would make it a point to get to the bottom of it and learn how to get Capture One to work for me.
As the eccentric user that I am, I didn't just open the manual and start working with it. I set up an appointment with Capture One in Copenhagen to get them to help me. At our first meeting, Alexander had set up a one-on-one learning environment with a large screen so he could show me the program. I stopped him right there and told him I wasn't really interested in seeing what he did. I wanted to show him how I worked and I needed his help to get Capture One to do what I wanted to do.
I don't want to learn how Capture One works,
I want Capture One to learn how I work
So we went on, for several appointments over the months, step by step, looking at what I wanted to do, and how it could be done with Capture One. You could say the difference is, I don't want to learn Capture One. I wanted Capture One to learn me.
I don't want to "learn to use a new software". I already know what I am doing, and how. I wanted Capture One to see and understand what a portrait and street photographer does and how he works, and then help me to do that.
By now Capture One supports all digital Leica models, including really old 2004 models.
Leica support in Capture One
Already when we started the sessions at Capture One, they had secretly started profiling some of the Leica lenses. At that point they had worked with some of the Leica R lenses and Leica M lenses, and they were profiling the new Leica TL2 as prototype (which I happened to be using also).
As of now, Capture One supports Leica M8 and onward. Even the Leica R8 and Leica R9 with digital back (from year 2004) are supported. Not that support is actually that important, because a new camera always has a built-in profile that ensures quite good results. But it was nice to see that Capture One was in on new camera models, already before release (so you don't have to wait months for them to be supported). It's all there by now.
Capture One supports almost all Leica M lenses. These are the lens-correction profiles available when you use the Leica M10 profile. Another set shows up if you use the Leica SL, or the Leica TL2, and so on.
Don't migrate from one to another
An important part of my workflow is to import, edit and finish pictures. You don't just import picture and leave them in the software.
You need to select, edit, keyword and export images that are ready for use: And you need to share your good photos; put them into use. Don't be an unpublished writer. Put it out there.
This also allows you to empty out your software. Which is what you must do. You can transfer your image archive from Lightroom to Capture One, but that's not really a solution to all the unfinished work you have in Lightroom.
It's like a dishwasher. You put in stuff and you get clean plates and silverware. But only if you press start and empty it when it's done.
What I did was that I left what was in Lightroom, and finished it off - one set of pictures at a time - and at the same time I started working in Capture One for my new projects. I also tried taking older Lightroom edits into Capture One to see how the difference would look. And I fought many times with myself, choosing the Capture One that I hadn't mastered as well as Lightroom yet, instead of choosing the easy solution: Importing to Lightroom.
Eventually I realized that my work in Capture One was much faster and more intuitive. You cannot point to a single point and say that's why it is faster. It's the overall thinking that is faster.
When you first open Capture One, it looks complicated. It's so different, and it's new. But after a couple of hours you see the simplicity. And the fun part is when you open Lightroom again and realize it looks like Lego Duplo for babies. It's so clunkily designed!
Speed comparison Lightroom vs. Capture One:
This is how big a difference there is working with Lightroom 7 and Capture One 11. This test was performed with 346 DNG files from 24MP camera (= size 20-30 MB each) using a Macook Pro 15" (Late 2016) with 2TB hard drive, 16GB ram
Capture One 11
Import of 346 DNG files from SD-card
Making 1:1 previews
of 346 DNG files
Export of files **
(346 web-sized JPG's)
Total waiting time
for import, preview and export of 346 pictures
Delay in showing a full-size preview
In itself, Capture One requires much less computer power than Lightroom. Where Lightroom will take over the computer power on import and export of images, Capture One performs the same tasks in a fraction of the time, and without exhausting the processor of the computer. Besides waiting time, it also means that you don't have to get the fastest computer to edit photos. I've always been first in line for new MacBook Pro computers because I always needed more speed. With Capture One that's not a concern.
In any case, if you make the jump from Lightroom to Capture One, plan on using both for a while. Use Lightroom to finish already imported projects, and use Capture One for new projects.
My new Capture One Survival Kit is ready for download and is in your inbox in a few minutes after you’ve bought it. So, you may order it now and get going. As with anything I sell, if you are not happy with it, you request a refund and you get it. No questions asked.
If you feel more confident with Lightroom, then get the Lightroom Survival Kit. The philosophy of workflow is the same in both, and they have the same underlying logics of it all. No matter which you do, using it will put you in a position where you can change the editing tool at any time: The fundamental idea is that it's your workflow, not the software's workflow. Once you have that in place, you are in control and you are independent.
"I just purchased Capture One and your survival kit, and thanks for creating it!"
You can buy any of the Survival Kits with 50% off using the codes here. You can use the Capture One code AMBOVERGAARD as well over at the Capture One website to buy software, software updates and Styles with 10% discount (write AMBOVERGAARD in the pop-up field under "Enter Promotional Code").
I hope you enjoyed this talk about my precious workfflow. As always, feel free to e-mail me for ideas, suggestions, questions and more.
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Thorsten von Overgaard is a Danish writer and photographer, specializing in portrait photography and documentary photography, known for writings about photography and as an educator.
Some photos are available as signed editions via galleries or online. For specific photography needs, contact Thorsten Overgaard via e-mail.