VSCO Film, Lightroom, Capture One Workflow Thoughts

I just answered a comment query about my use of VSCO Film presets in this post. It turned out to be quite long, so I thought I’d turn it into a proper blog entry here. What follows is a slightly modified version.

I really like Capture One. One reason why is that I find it gives the nicest results from the Fujifilm X-Series RAW files. I’ve tried Lightroom,* Capture One, the now discontinued Aperture and Iridient Developer, and my feeling is this – overall Capture One gives the most pleasing results. Sure, you can pick apart some aspects and show, at a pixel level, where other developers might do an arguably better job at some specific subset or localised aspect, but in the end it all comes down to overall rendering, and that’s where I find Capture One to be the winner. It’s all a bit subjective really though, so whatever makes people happy is best I guess.

My basic and admittedly somewhat illogical workflow is to import and open the RAW file in Capture One Pro and to develop it to give a reasonably finished looking result at a global level. In other words, I develop globally at this stage and don’t do any local adjustments. I go for a moderately flat rendering, but not as totally flat as others might do. I aim for some global approximation of how I want the finished result to be. Some people develop really flat with the intent of having the greatest possibly leeway in other programmes. I kinda follow that approach, but aim to get much of what I want for the next stage, so I don’t need to take things too far in the resulting file (since it will be a TIFF, which while being far far better than a jPeg, is still not as flexible as the original RAW file).

Then I export as a full sized 16 bit TIFF and import that file into Lightroom.** To tell the truth, I don’t really fully know why I do this. Maybe I should try to do everything in Lightroom to save myself the effort, as that would seem logical. In part, it would make sense to work on the RAW file all in one programme. However, I really do see a difference and prefer the results I get in the initial rendering from Capture One, and also, to be honest, as I have a significant investment in Capture One (from the days when it really was the only acceptable game in town if you wanted to work with RAW), I don’t want to abandon it and essentially give up on that investment.

Once in Lightroom, I (typically) apply a little extra global adjustment if needed and then also local adjustments. These (global & local) go back and forth a lot, as I play with things to see what looks the best, and sometimes the global stays at the new settings, and sometimes it ends up essentially back to what came out of Capture One.

It is in Lightroom that I use the VSCO Film presets. I tend to work on the original version with global and local adjustments first to get it where I want (as mentioned above). Then I make a virtual copy and apply a VSCO Film preset. This will overwrite any of the global adjustments with the preset’s own if it used the same global controls, but I can usually quickly tweak these if I don’t like what has happened. Then, I go over any of the local adjustments that need post preset tweaking to make them fit better with the new VSCO Film preset results.

Because I’m working on a TIFF file and not a specific to camera model RAW file at this stage, I use the “Standard” film pack presets, and not the “Fujifilm” specific film pack presets (although I still install the Fujifilm film pack presets when doing the initial VSCO Film install).

Another thing I should add, with the VSCO Film presets it is often necessary to use the “Toolbox” sections to get things looking normal. In particular, it is often necessary to use the “Orange Skin Fix” options when doing portraits. Also, often I find I need to apply extra local adjustments after applying a VSCO Film preset. The photo from the original post is a good example, with the face needing a new Adjustment Brush to bring up the exposure.

Then I often go back and forth between the ‘pure digital’ version and the ‘analogue-ised’ VSCO Film version to see the difference. By doing this, I can tweak the VSCO Film version to tone down the often over the top results they give. By constantly comparing with the plain version, I can find a more natural result (or not, as needs dictate).

Then I’m done.

Except for making more virtual copies to experiment – sometimes I wish digital did’t make it so easy to finely vary things, so I could make a faster choice 😉

Hope this helps.

I’ve recently finished writing a rather long and detailed Lightroom portrait tutorial. However, it is taking some time to edit it. When finished, I will post it here as a series of tutorials, so as to be more easy to digest (I’ll also post the whole thing as one piece at after that, to allow people to easily cut and past the whole thing if they wish). Hopefully too, some will find it useful and helpful.

Typed with a little Nickel Creek via Tiny Desk help here.

* I use Lightroom 5 in the desktop version. With Lightroom 6, Adobe makes it a little hard to find the link to the desktop version, with all their efforts apparently pushing new / upgrading users towards the subscription version

** I’m thinking I should separate the TIFF and RAW hard drive locations, as a form of multiple location backup. I could have one large HDD as just a location for RAW and another for processed files – something I might explore soon


4 thoughts on “VSCO Film, Lightroom, Capture One Workflow Thoughts

    • Hi! Sorry for the really slow response.

      It was Agfa Vista 400 with orange skin fix++, plus a bit more tweaking in places, mainly dragging the orange saturation down a little more and some white balance tweaking. Hope that helps.


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