PSD Workflow Advantages

Capture One Pro is a funny thing.

Not in the comical sense, but in the sense that it seems to get better and better with time, anticipating the needs of its intended audience. That may seem like the obvious evolution of a software, incrementally improving the experience for its users, but I’m sure many of you feel that often it doesn’t seem to be the case with all technologies. It’s rather difficult to tell Microsoft after the fact, no thank you I don’t need a new default web browser, or to kindly point out to Apple that, indeed the removal of a USB port is rather inconvenient and I’m not particularly fond of carrying around a backpack of “dongles”.

The changes in Capture One Pro from the outside may seem small, but it’s the impact they have on my daily use that becomes monumental in terms of saving time. In the interest of full disclosure, it’s important to point out that the software team here at Phase One is, in fact, not clairvoyant. They had not anticipated or somehow sensed that the changes they were making would be so beneficial. The trigger for change was actually more rudimentary than that… they listened to the users!

In that sense, what I find funny about Capture One Pro and all its future versions, is that it’s comforting. Finding solace and comfort in a software is both embarrassing to admit and certainly a funny thought to express. But there it is.

Although Phase One does pay my rent (and I am without a doubt biased) I find comfort in the fact that the tools I depend on when not in the office, the tools that are essential to fulfill my love of photography, are created by a team that listens to the photographers who use their software and are certain to make a difference. Although I do not work for the software department, I do know that the team is dedicated to ensuring that any improvements they make are fully vetted with those that use Capture One Pro. That vetting process certainly occurs here, across the lunch table on a daily basis, but the lengths they go to outside of this office, working directly with full-time professional photographers, certainly makes a difference.

Efficient Workflow

To anyone reading this, I’m sure I don’t need to preach the importance of a well-choreographed and tirelessly executed workflow. It’s been said many times over, by anyone speaking about Capture One Pro, that it’s one of the few photographic tools that puts the power of customizing that workflow directly in the hands of the user.

Creating a customized workflow, tailored to your exact needs and wants, is one of its many strengths.

Stressing the importance of an efficient workflow is one thing, but following one personally is quite another. The old adage, “Those that can’t do, teach” comes to mind. I am far from a professional photographer and working with so many photographers, suggesting, adapting to and embracing their workflows as a matter of diligence becomes problematic when I put my own workflow into practice. Adapting to different workflows certainly affords me the opportunity to explore, but it does hinder my consistency.

The one thing that has remained consistent in my workflow for more than 15 years is the transition from RAW to PSD, and from PSD to TIFF/JPEG. I suspect that will never change.

Sessions or Catalogs come and go depending on the job. New Tools provide new editing opportunities. New layouts streamline the steps one can take to achieve a final image… but the transition of capturing a RAW, editing that RAW, processing to a PSD, editing that PSD, and then delivering a TIFF or JPEG is always a constant.

And when would that ever change? Well, it didn’t change with the release of Capture One Pro 10.1. But it did get a whole lot better.

The critical role of a PSD

A PSD is critical because, well, we’re photographers. And for photographers, Photoshop is critical. It’s a simple truth that Photoshop is an essential tool for every photographer. There have been attempts to replace it, clone it or avoid it, but at the end of the day there’s always something in an image that needs a tweak here or a touch there, and Photoshop is often the answer. It does some things better than anyone can, and likely ever will, but that list of advantages is shrinking.

The role of Photoshop in my workflow has certainly been reduced. At one time, my entire digital process revolved around it (with a brief and embarrassing stint in Lightroom), but now it acts almost like a Plug-in for Capture One Pro and not the other way around.

So, what is a PSD? To put it simply, it’s a TIFF file with some pizzazz. That’s of course not what the P stands for, but it’s close. It’s a file format of your image that is streamlined for Photoshop, compressed in a lossless format (like a RAW file) and puts quality, security and speed, above all else. So, it’s not exactly a TIFF, it’s so much more.

The number one enemy of image editing quality is compression. Bear with me here…

Compression is like packing a rucksack for a month of backpacking. The first time you pack it, it’s perfect. Everything is where it should be, and everything fits safe and snug… until the next time you re-pack it, and the next, and then the next. In the end, your backpack looks like it’s filled with empty beer cans and you’ve lost a tent pole. In digital editing, that type of compression is JPEG compression. By constantly packing and repacking, editing and saving, that JPEG eventually fails to resemble its original form. It may be small, but eventually it’s corrupted and you’ve lost a tent pole. A JPEG is perfect for a one-time, tight, snug, and small pack job, but not for constantly adjusting and resaving. So, for continuous editing, it’s a no-no.

A JPEG ready to deliver

The same JPEG after 25 Open/Save Cycles.. CORRUPT!

This is where a TIFF comes in. A TIFF has no compression and therefore there’s no fear of losing that tent pole. Keeping with the travel analogies, it’s a steamer trunk. It holds all your belongings in an organized way, safely and securely. But… it’s huge, heavy and no one can really afford to travel like it’s the 1920s on a first-class transatlantic voyage.

This is where a PSD comes in. It’s a hard-shell Samsonite suitcase with wheels. All the benefits of a TIFF in that it’s safe, secure and organized, and with some of the benefits of a JPEG in that it’s compressed – but in a good way. The file is quick in Photoshop, takes up slightly less space than a TIFF, and is secure for the foreseeable future. Your tent pole is exactly where you left it.

A PSD is the best of both worlds. In an industry constantly pressured by time, threatened by the unspeakable file corruption, it is without a doubt a vital format for a professional workflow. If you use Photoshop anyway.

Streamlining the Streamlined

So back to how great Capture One Pro is…

With the release of Capture One Pro 10.1 came a seemingly insignificant, but monumental benefit in that it improved PSD support. What is this improvement you ask? Layers! The pizzazz of the PSD.

Previously, Capture One Pro could see a PSD. It could recognize one in a collection of images (Session or Catalog) and it could see what the original file (or background layer) consisted of. However, if you were a diligent retoucher, you would of course have layers within that PSD that made significant, or subtle, changes to that background layer. So, in previous versions of the software, what you saw in Photoshop was not always what you got in Capture One Pro.

The improvements made it so Capture One Pro will not only see, honor and update the adjustments you make to the PSD in Photoshop, but it will allow you to process that PSD as if it were a normal RAW file. This seems small, but trust me, it’s huge.

For example, say you edit a RAW in Capture One Pro to near perfection and process that RAW to a PSD, and that PSD needs a bit of work via Photoshop to replace the model’s bad hair day with a silly hat. The work is done quickly and effortlessly in Photoshop and saved, still as a PSD. Opening that PSD in Capture One Pro now shows the PSD, silly hat and all.

Or, as a more practical example, you can have several RAW that you shot as a stitch, processed to PSD and stitched in Photoshop, then continue editing that stitched file in Capture One Pro. In hindsight I should have led with that example but the idea of a silly hat made me laugh.

RAW’s in Capture One

Files Stitched PSD in Photoshop

Edited PSD-Before

Edited PSD-After

PSD imported to Capture One and ready to edit or process further

With this file, you can now edit it slightly (if need be) just as if it were a RAW. Just as if it were originally shot as a Panorama! Then, when the art director asks for 5 different image samples of this particular image, including multiple formats at multiples sizes and resolutions, a simply click in Capture One Pro exports the PSD to the desired formats referencing all of the Process Recipe’s you’ve applied.

Bing. Bang. Boom.

No more cumbersome resizing the original in Photoshop over and over. No more hunting for the PSD that matches the RAW, reprocessing and retouching again. Just once and done. Your previously excellent workflow has just become excellenter.

Small Feature, Substantial Change

What this new feature affords me is speed, consistency and peace of mind. My workflow, though not perfect, is quite efficient (#humblebrag). The introduction of this small change however, makes it effortless.

The time switching between Capture One Pro and Photoshop is nearly zero and the manual organization, locating and verifying that I have the most recent file, is a thing of the past. I can see my chosen and edited RAW file alongside my edited and final PSD. If I choose to further edit that PSD in Photoshop, everything remains consistent in Capture One Pro. And when it comes time to process that PSD to one or multiple formats (for Instagram, Photoshop, 500px, personal website, print house, moms refrigerator) it’s one click of the process button and all the files are quickly created, neat and tidy, done and done.

Processed files from the PSD

I know I said this was a seemingly small improvement – and it is – but the effect it has on my workflow is incredible.

So, just to summarize…

I can edit a RAW in Capture One Pro. I can then right click that RAW, when it’s ready to move to Photoshop, and choose Edit With… from the Right Click menu.

I edit the PSD in Photoshop, stitching, stacking, retouching, etc, and then save the PSD in the same folder as the RAW files.

I now have a PSD alongside my RAW’s that reflects my edits. I can choose to continue editing in Capture One Pro if I wish, but when I’m ready I simply process the PSD to the final formats I need (TIFF/JPEG) and I’m done. Simple and clean.

Edit With

Final Capture One Pro structure after editing the PSD

Final image after editing the PSD in Capture One Pro

The Importance of Professional Tools

In a way, Phase One is paying me to say this, but you’ll have to trust me when I tell you that they didn’t come to me to write about this change. I volunteered. I jumped at the opportunity to tell as many people as possible about the potential this small change has on a bigger, and common, workflow.

Capture One Pro is, without a doubt, a professional piece of software. Though it’s not for everybody, I firmly believe it should be. With the ability to customize a workflow to suite your exact needs, and the underlying features to make seemingly anything possible, it’s a software that has everything to offer a photographer and asks for nothing in return (aside from $299 USD).

It is designed and delivered by dedicated individuals who listen to the needs of photographers and it is built to help propel professional photographers the world over.

Ultimately… this is pretty great and I highly suggest you check it out.

June 22 2017

By Drew Altdoerffer

Category: Tech Talk
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  • Drew Altdoerffer
    Drew Altdoerffer

    Drew is a Product Manager and Marketing Specialist for Phase One as well as a previous member of the Technical Supporter team. He works directly with customers in addition to assisting partners and sales associates alike to better understand the features of all of Phase One’s products. His role in the company extends to the PODAS photographic workshops, training seminars and sales events.

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    Comments (30)

    Noel Mount

    Thanks Capture one… and thanks for the improvement to Styles… where I now can see the photo and choose the style…. A great improvement

    Drew J. Altdoerffer

    Hi Noel,
    You can download the Styles and learn more about them here;
    https://www.phaseone.com/en/Products/Software/Styles.aspx

    Ian Iles

    “It’s a simple truth that Photoshop is an essential tool for every photographer.”

    Er, no it isn’t. I’ve never once used Photoshop. I was curious about the PSD acronym, so thought I’d have a read, and now I know what it means, I know considerably more than I did about PS, but don’t really feel the need to know any more than that.

    Drew Altdoerffer

    Hey Ian,
    To each their own. Glad to hear you’re making it work without the expensive Photoshop Plug-in ;)

    ~Drew

    Ken Bates

    I’m curious about your workflow with PSDs when you’re stitching a panorama with Photoshop. When I do it, Capture One creates one PSD for each image, which is then passed to Photoshop (CS6 for me). After stitching in Photoshop, since the panorama PSD will be a “new” file, I have to manually pick a location, and then manually import the result into Capture One. This workflow is a bit inefficient for a couple of reasons”

    1. The created PSDs that are passed as input to CS6 really don’t need to be in the Capture One catalog since they are nothing more than intermediate files that clutter up the catalog (and probably won’t be used again).

    2. The stitched output PSD file from CS6 has to be manually saved to a user specified location (instead of using the same location as the input files), and then has to manually imported into the Capture One catalog.

    Both are minor problems of course, but using CS6 to create a panorama is a much less efficient workflow than editing a single PSD in CS6.

    Any thoughts or suggestions on this, or is this basically your workflow for panoramas using PSD files?

    Drew J. Altdoerffer

    Hey Ken,
    Hang in there as this is hard to do in a response…
    To your concerns:
    #1. You just need to right click “Edit With” then do your Photoshop stitch, saving the new panorama. The individual files, simply delete without saving and remove them from the catalog.
    #2. Not so. Capture One EXPECTS a file that it exported to be saved to the Image Folder. Just save the stitched Panorama to the folder that the RAW files reside and use the same name as one of the RAW files you used “Edit With”. Capture One is looking for that file, so when it is saved and appears, it’s automatically imported.

    Basically, what you’re concerned about can easily be avoided. For this example, my workflow was to…
    1. Select RAW files (all of them)
    2. Right Click ->Edit With-> Photoshop
    3. In Photoshop -> File->Automate->Photo Merge->Add Open Files
    4. Stitch and save to the RAW Image Folder using the first RAW files name
    5. Close all individual PSD files without saving

    Hope that helps.
    Drew

    Ken Bates

    This still doesn’t work, Drew. Following your steps, I select the 5 images I want to stitch, right click, then select “Edit with…”, choose PSD as the file format, and select Photoshop as “Open with”. When I do this, Capture One creates 5 PSD files, puts them in the catalog, and launches CS6. Stitching works fine, but I still have those 5 PSD files in the catalog. Easy to delete, but I’m wondering how you pass PSD files to CS6 without creating them in the first place. Note that I’m passing edited variants, so although doing an “Open with…” wouldn’t create PSD files, it also wouldn’t include any edits I’ve made. Is there some basic step I’m missing?

    Drew Altdoerffer

    Hey Ken,
    Nothing missing on your end, just some workarounds to avoid those conflicts on my end. I have some Photoshop actions/droplets/batch files to avoid those issues when I stitch. I failed to take those into account when trying to simplify the workflow.
    I’ll get ahold of you directly and walk you through it.

    Drew

    Rob Stone

    One question. Following the editing in Photoshop, then returning to Capture One and doing additional adjustments. Can you then return to Photoshop and seen all of the layers and continue adjust the existing layers and/or add new ones? Thank you for the best explanation of this new (and really big) feature that I have read to date.

    Drew J. Altdoerffer

    Hi Rob,
    Absolutely!
    Whatever adjustments you make in Photoshop will be reflected in the PSD that Capture One is seeing. Simply make your adjustments in Photoshop and save the file. You may need to right click on the image in Capture One and “Update Preview” but beyond that Capture One will honor the PSD as you’ve created it.

    Kind Regards,
    Drew

    Rob Stone

    I have been able to “edit with” to PS, work in layers and “return” to Capture One. It appears that in order to open the file again in PS and see the preserved layers, you must open it with “Open with”, and then I can see the PS file with layers. So far so good.

    I have begun to work with this new feature and I while I can edit in PS and then return to Capture One and then make further adjustments in Capture One, those changes made in Capture One are not preserved when I return to PS. Any thoughts on what I might be doing wrong here? As I understood your answer to my original question I should be able to do this.

    Thanks
    Rob

    Drew Altdoerffer

    Hey Rob,
    It sounds to be working correctly. I think the piece that is misunderstood is the adjustments from Capture One to Photoshop. This is a one way street. Capture One treats the PSD as if it were a RAW, making non-destructive adjustments to it that only Capture One can see. In order for those adjustments to be seen in Photoshop, the file needs to be exported to a PSD and opened as a new file.
    So…
    Edit RAW in Capture One -> Edit With Photoshop
    Edit PSD in Photoshop -> Edits/Layers/etc are seen by Capture One when the file is saved (Maximum Compatibility Mode)
    Edit the PSD in Capture One -> Export final file (TIFF/JPEG)
    End Workflow

    Just to be clear, adjustments you make to a PSD in Capture One have no way of being honored on the same file in Photoshop. This is only possible if a new file is exported from Capture One. In order for that workflow to be possible Photoshop needs to be compatible with Capture One and read it’s adjustments which Adobe can choose to do if they wish.

    Kind Regards,
    Drew

    Montagne Dick

    I have Capture One Pro 10.0 How do I get 10.1

    Drew J. Altdoerffer

    Hi Montagne

    You can download the latest Capture One Pro version here: https://www.phaseone.com/en/Download.aspx

    Benjamin Crozat

    I’m happy about this. But after importing existing PSD files in Capture One, I get white previews on most of them. Is there a trick to fix that?

    Benjamin Crozat

    Those are ~24 mpx images saved as PSD with the latest version of Photoshop. 16-bit, Adobe RGB color profile and they’re crazy heavy with a lot of layers as you can expect.

    Drew Altdoerffer

    Hey Ben,
    Best to send one of the files to Support.
    One of the layers in the lot of layers may be a conflict depending on what it is. There’s some fanciful adjustments that you can do in Photoshop that won’t translate as they prevent the background layer from being read. Things like Smart Objects and Layer Masks may interfere depending on how their stacked. It’s a rarity but given the complexity of Photoshop, it’s possible.

    https://www.phaseone.com/en/SupportMain.aspx

    Kind Regards,
    Drew

    Benjamin Crozat

    Some PSDs with layers masks at the top are just fine inside of Capture One. Anyway, I just sent an email to the support with real PSD files for debugging. Please be careful with them. :)

    Is the PSD saved with “Maximize compatibility” enabled? You will need to do this if not…

    Billy Walker

    Question: I don’t think you touched on this but are you flattening the layers in a PSD prior to saving? Or, leaving multiple layers and verifying all eyeballs are checked?

    Drew Altdoerffer

    For sure not!
    That defeats the entire advantage.
    Capture One 10.1 will see all of those layer adjustments as a flattened file (this is what comparability mode does) and so there’s no need to flatten in Photoshop.

    Kind Regards,
    Drew

    Billy Walker

    So Capture One see’s the PSD as a flattened file. I had assumed you were not flattening but the thought “which layer were you looking at” kept popping up time and time again. Now I comprehend!! Thanks Drew!!

    Kris Jorgensen

    I would like to say to the people who made this happen, great job. I started with psd as my workflow with photoshop and when I started using Capture One, one of the things I missed most was the use of psd compatible files to work with. As stated all the benefits with layers and smaller file size to boot has brought me back to why I liked and miss psd as my workflow file. I am starting to use photoshop less and less as this company progresses more and more. Keep up the great work. Kris

    Drew Altdoerffer

    Thanks Kris,
    I’ll pass on the kind words to the hard working folks behind the scenes. They’ll certainly appreciate it.

    ~Drew

    Brandon Harris

    How can I set my defaults for “Edit With” so that I don’t have to choose “PSD” and “Photosohp” each time? I just want to use those for my defaults, not Format = “TIFF”, and Open With = “None”.

    David Grover

    The options will be sticky if you are using Capture One 10.1.2.

    Drew, you mentioned attempts to replace, clone or avoid Photoshop : can you tell is there is any chance to see Capture One Pro capable of reading Affinity Photo files, is there any technical reasons not to ?

    P.S. I wonder if the two screenshots that you used in your post for “Edited PSD-Before” and “Edited PSD-After” are not identical (ScreenShot5.jpg).

    Drew Altdoerffer

    Hello Gilles,
    The support for files other than PSD is always possible.
    It depends on what the demand is from users and how that is communicated, as well as the desire of other companies to work with us. We take all of our Feature Requests from the Support System. If their is a feature or Support that you would like, please create a support case;

    https://www.phaseone.com/en/SupportMain/contact-technical-support.aspx

    Kind Regards,
    Drew

    Gary Halcon

    Hello Drew, I am very excited to hear about this feature. I seem to have trouble viewing my edited PSD file in C1 though.

    The workflow as follows: Color adjustment in C1, export as PSD to Photoshop, edit layers as necessary, save file with different name. If I understand this feature, I should be able to see this newly edited file again in C1 with all of its adjustments. Currently, I just see a white thumbnail in the side browser bar. Clicking on it just opens up a white image.

    Drew Altdoerffer

    Hi Gary,
    Be sure to save with “Maximum Compatibility” turned on in Photoshop when saving the PSD.
    If you still have issues please contact support.
    https://www.phaseone.com/en/SupportMain/contact-technical-support.aspx

    Kind Regards,
    Drew

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