Capture One (LE) + Photoshop CS RAW Workflow

Here's the workflow that I use for capturing digital photos and
processing them into JPEG files that are suitable for creating high
quality prints, on-line viewing, and archival.  For this workflow, I
use a Canon Digital Rebel, Capture One LE, and Adobe Photoshop
CS.  This workflow also applies to the Nikon D50/D70 and Capture One LE.

I chose high quality JPEG's because most on-line printing services
only accept JPEG's (though the better ones also accept uncompressed
TIF's).  JPEG's are also a lot smaller (~3 MB v.s. 18 MB!), and
therefore take much less time to upload and require fewer DVD's for
archival.

I work in the AdobeRGB color space and have scripts that down-convert
images to sRGB as needed for viewing on the web or sending to printing
services that only accept sRGB.

    1.  Shoot lots of pretty pictures in RAW mode.
        I use AdobeRGB as the color space.  This only
        affects the default RAW processing settings and the
        embedded small JPEG image.  My camera is also
        configured to display a histogram along with a
        preview of the photo.  I delete captures that are
        obviously bad on the spot if time permits.

        Lately, I've been shooting with FEC set to +2/3 and
        EC set to +1/3 because digital image data is
        recorded linerly.  This puts the distribution of
        data in the image where RAW processing can do the
        most good.  Slightly overexposed captures can be
        brought back without loosing highlight detail, but
        it's difficult or impossible to recover shadow
        detail from underexposed captures.

    2.  Read the images off of the CF card(s).
        I use Capture One's Media Reader to read the
        captures.  This starts Capture One LE and
        immediately starts creating previews.

    3.  Start Capture One and set default preferences
        (first time only).
        Develop settings
           Use capture name as default name
           Include EXIF information
           Banding suppression:  Low
           DSLR noise suppression:  Medium-High
         Exposure Evaluation
            Overexposure Warning:  1.5%
            Underexposure Warning: 2.5%
            Show separate RGB channels in histogram
            Calculate histogram based on crop
         Miscellaneous Settings
            Default sharpening
               Method:  Standard look
               Amount:    34
               Threshold:  3
            Default color saturation: 2.5%
            Hide focus orientation frame automatically

        Then, under Workflow->Show Color Managment Settings:
           Camera Product:  Canon EOS 300D (in my case)
           Camera profile:  Canon EOS 300D Generic
           Output destination (Working Space):  AdobeRGB
           Web Destination:  sRGB

    4.  Delete unusable captures.
        Use the delete key to kill captures that are
        obviously useless (Capture One does not actually
        remove the files, just renames them to .trashed). 
        There seldom more than a couple of these because I
        generally do this in-camera, but sometimes I miss
        one or two.

    5.  Move substandard captures to a "soso" folder. 
        Create a "soso" folder under the current capture
        directory, and make it the "Move to Collection."
        Capture One LE moves captures to the "Move To
        Collection" when I hit the backspace key while
        viewing them, so setting Capture One up like this
        makes editing go quickly.

        To check focus, I use the Focus tab or hit
        CTRL+ALT+0 to quickly zoom to 100% (pixel view).  I
        can then hold down the space-bar and pan the image
        by grabbing it with the mouse.  If the subject isn't
        sharp, the capture generally goes into the trash or
        "soso" folder.  To get a larger view, I can hit F6
        or F9.

    6.  Tweak and "develop" the remaining images.
        a. Set the "Develop To" folder
           Click on the "Develop" tab and select "Always
           process images to associated image folder". 
           While you're there, set "File format" to TIF
           "Bit Depth" to "16 Bit", and "Color Management
           workflow" to "Convert to Destination".

        b. Set Exposure Response cure.
           For virtually all captures, I prefer the "Film
           high contrast" exposure curve over "Film
           standard", which is the default.  Film standard
           looks washed out compared to in-camera JPEG's.
           Set the first image to "Film high contrast" and
           apply that change to all of the other captures.
           If an image has too much contrast, I can always
           switch back to "Film standard" or "Film extra
           shadow".

        c. Tweak the black/white levels and the curve.
           If the low or high end of the histogram indicates
           no significant content, slide the endpoints just
           short of clipping the shadows and highlights.

           A related technique is to adjust the digital
           exposure compensation (EC) and contrast (CC)
           sliders.  Depending on how extreme the changes
           are, it may be necessary to compensate for lost
           saturation (or excessive saturation) using the
           "Color saturation" slider.

        d. Correct white balance, if necessary.
           If I have a shot of my WhiBal card taken in the
           same light as the subject, I'll white balance off
           of the light grey card and apply the settings to
           the captures that were created in the same light. 
           Otherwise I tweak color temperature and tonal
           balance only if they are clearly off.  My monitor
           is calibrated with a Gretag Mcbeth Eye One
           Display 2, which helps to get predictable color.

        e. Tweak focus, only if necessary.
           In my preferences, I've set the default focus to
           "Standard Look", Amount = 34, Threshold = 3. 
           This seems to work fine (no over-sharpening
           artifacts) for most images, but occasionally it's
           necessary to reduce (to eliminate over-sharpening
           "halos") or increase (compensate for slightly
           soft focus) the Amount.  Capture One sets the
           dSLR noice reduction based on the image content,
           so I seldom have to adjust that.

        f. Hit the "Insert" key to add the capture to the
           develop queue, and immediately go back to step
           a. for the next image.  Captures are converted
           to 300 dpi 16-bit AdobeRGB TIF's.

        g. When I've put the last image into the develop
           queue, I select all captures and archive the
           captures settings.  By doing this, I can open the
           RAW files in Capture One on another computer and
           import all of my adjustments.

    7.  Re-order the captures for final culling in PSCS.
        I use the PSCS browser to group similar captures
        together or otherwise adjust the order of the
        captures so that they best tell the story or
        communicate the idea that I'm trying to convey.  I
        then remove captures that don't add anything new
        (perhaps keeping a few for B&W conversions).  If I
        made any changes to the order, I use the PSCS
        browser to rename all of the captures so that the
        order will stick once they are published to the web
        or sent off for printing, etc.

    8.  Final editing of TIF's with PSCS.
        I do image tweaking or special effects as necessary
        (cropping, convert to toned B&W, vignette, lighting
        effects, retouching, sharpening, etc.) in PSCS.  If
        I think that I will return to the image to do more
        tweaking, I'll save it as a PSD; however, most of
        the time I just flatten the image and save as a TIF.

    9.  Batch convert TIF's to JPG's.
        I wrote a JavaScript program to batch convert the
        TIF's to AdobeRGB JPG's.  It also creates a "web"
        subdirectory in which it stores (roughly) 720x480
        sRGB versions of the captures.

   10.  Publish the collection to the web.
        Gallery remote makes it easy to create a new gallery
        album (or sub-album).  I just upload the
        websized versions of my captures that were
        created by my script to save time.

   11.  Archive the images onto my FreeBSD fileserver.
        To complete the life-cycle, I move the complete
        contents of my working captures folder to my FreeBSD
        box and then rename it to describe the event.  The
        final path looks something like this:

            /photos/by-date/2004/05/27-My_Event_Name

        I have a script that I run on the server that
        does the following:

           - renames CRW_* to img_*

           - moves raw files and Capture One settings to
             a "raws" subdir

           - removes all .trashed files and the Develops subdir

           - fixes permissions.

        Another script copies all of the images to a second
        hard disk for backup.

        Finally, I burn the capture directory to a DVD.  The
        FreeBSD software that I'm using (growisofs) allows
        me to add new directories to the DVD (without
        fixating it) until it's full.

   12.  Pop the CF card back into the camera and re-format.
        Got to be ready for the next photo opportunity!

   13.  Prints.
        We take sRGB converted JPG'S to Walgreens for 4x6
        proofs.  For final prints, we upload AdobeRGB JPG's to
        Mpix.  They do excellent work.

        If I just need one or two prints, I use Qimage to
        spool to our Epson R1800 printer using Epson's
        premium color profiles.  I mostly use Premium Glossy
        Photo or Premium Luster paper.

Some Notes:

   - I'm running the ""Wasia" Russian Firmware Hack on my Digital
     Rebel to gain access to FEC settings and to embed a
     small, low quality JPG rather than the default medium
     JPG in my RAW captures.  I may try the Undutchable firmware
     to gain RAW shooting in the dummy modes.