Capture One, Aperture and Lightroom combine image cataloguing, browsing and non-destructive editing in a way that makes it possible to enhance whole batches of images both quickly and consistently.
In particular, they let you choose the perfect set of adjustments for a single representative image in the batch, then copy them across wholesale to all the rest – or as many of them as you want, because you can apply changes to images individually to with just a single mouseclick.
This walkthrough shows you how to do it in Capture One. At the same time, it shows how simple it is to apply white balance adjustments in situations where the manual presets just don’t work that well.
This is very common indoors under artificial lighting, where you’re often dealing with light sources of unknown colour, often in combination, with the added complication of a little ambient daylight mixed in too.
Here’s a typical case. It’s a collection of pictures taken inside Wells Cathedral in the UK, where the predominantly artificial light has given them most of them a yellow/orange cast – I shot them all using auto white balance, knowing I’d have to fix them later anyway.
Now I could try to apply an auto white balance adjustment to each image individually, but then they wouldn’t look consistent. I wanted to find a single adjustment I could apply to all of them which was close to neutral overall, but still allowed for the slight natural variation between them.
01 Pick an image
My first job is to pick an image which is representative of the rest, and I think this is a good candidate. It was lit evenly by the cathedral’s main lighting, and I remembered that area of stone had a neutral grey tone.
So what I need now is Capture One’s White Balance panel, which you’ll find in the Color tool tab and the Quick tool tab if you’ve got that displayed. I won’t bother with the manual sliders, and I’ll just select the eyedropper tool (circled) instead. Now all I need to do is click on a representative area of the picture (also circled) to neutralise the colours.
02 Copy your adjustments
The transformation is dramatic. Suddenly the picture’s colours look a lot more natural. You can see the colours in the statues now because they’re not swamped by that all-over yellow tinge.
I’m happy with that, so now I need to click the Copy/Apply button on the top toolbar. This has just two options, and I want the top one, ‘Copy Adjustments’.
When the tool is in ‘Copy’ mode, its icon points upwards – this is how you can see at a glace which mode it’s in. Now I can click on any image in my browser to copy all the adjustments that have been applied to it. I’ll click on the image I’ve just adjusted to load its custom white balance setting.
03 Apply your adjustments
Now I need to click on the button again and this time choose ‘Apply Adjustments’. You’ll see that the button’s icon is now a downwards-pointing arrow. This means that when you click on any image in the browser the copied adjustments are applied to it – the tool is now in ‘Apply’ mode.
You can see the difference here. I took two similar pictures of this stone figure, and I’ve applied the adjustment to the one on the left but not the one on the right. The custom white balance setting I saved from the previous image is really effective here too.
04 Fix the rest
I can carry on and apply this same adjustment to all the other images in similar lighting, and it just takes a single mouseclick each time. The great thing is that I can choose which images to apply it to – in some, the daylight is much stronger, so they look quite good already and the custom white balance adjustment would make them look worse – so I can simply leave these unaltered.
The other point to make is that these adjustments in Capture One (and in Aperture and Lightroom) are completely non-destructive, so if I come back later and decide I didn’t get it right the first time, I can do it all over again, because the original image files haven’t themselves been modified.