When giving presentations and workshops, I am very flattered when photographers walk up and compliment me on my work, but invariably they also have a question or two about my technique and approach. One common question is where does my colour come from.
I haven't really given this much thought as surely everyone has the same access to colour? But perhaps that's not quite true. In the next issue of Better Photography magazine (it's just been sent off to the printer), I compare Adobe Camera Raw (and Lightroom) with Capture One raw processing engines. I was using Capture One 7 which has now been replaced by Capture One 8, but that is not the point: the observation I made was that each application does things differently.
Capture One might process a red to look like a fire engine, ACR might process the same red to look like a cherry. The colour differences might be subtle, but when you multiply these differences by thousands of colours, you can end up with significantly different photographs.
As a test, open up the same raw file in both programs. You can download a free 60 day trial of Capture One if you don't use it already (I'm assuming you already own Photoshop, Elements or Lightroom). Have both applications open on your screen, side by side, so you can see the same photograph duplicated. Now, try to process the photo so it is exactly the same in both applications. If you can do it easily, that's remarkable, so try another photo. What I've found is that there are invariably subtle but important differences.
And all I can think is that these differences help create the colour in my images. Of course, it's the adjustment layers I use that create the colour and the contrast, but these adjustment layers have to start with something and maybe my starting point is different to yours?
I use Capture One to process not only my Phase One files, but my Canon, Fuji and Nikon files as well. And as I explain in the article - well, I guess that doesn't really matter. What I like about Capture One files doesn't really matter, it's whether you like them that counts.
You can download Capture One from the Phase One website - www.phaseone.com