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Cameron Davidson
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Cameron Davidson
High Flying with Capture One

“In 1980, I started off as a bird photographer and was doing a personal project on Great Blue Herons in southern Maryland. I took it to National Geographic’s director of photography at the time, and they gave me the princely sum of $1000 to continue it. It was 1980, so it was enough money to pay for a few things and build a hide 60ft up in a tree.”

“The story ran and I shot more stories for them after that. So that’s where it all began...”

Since then, Cameron has built up a successful and diverse photographic business specializing in Aerial, Industrial, Portraiture and Civil Engineering genres of photography.

Based in Alexandria, Virginia, USA, Cameron works with a variety of camera platforms to deliver the right imagery to his clients. “I use Nikon D800’s and D4’s, a Sony RX1 and Leaf Credo 60 with medium format and Alpa systems. All my images go through Capture One, which I have used since version 2.7.”

“I have tried the other RAW converters but I have always liked the colors and skin tones better in Capture One.“

“For a long time, I missed Local Adjustments in Capture One, but when that came some time ago it was really really good!”

High Flying
Cameron’s love of aerial started with the Heron project, and since then he has made any excuse to get back up in the air.

“Aerial work requires meticulous planning, but above all safety”, explains Cameron. “Fortunately it is still quite easy in the USA to carry out this kind of work, with the exception of Washington D.C., for obvious reasons!”

“If we are going to be low and slow over neighborhoods, we call the local Sheriff’s office and let them know what we are doing. As long as you are respectful and don’t linger over people too long, it works out OK.”

“We research potential weather patterns so we know what’s going to happen. We have a shoot in New York in a couple of weeks, for example, and we have learnt how weather systems develop. But it can turn on you:, I sat in San Francisco for a week once waiting for the fog to clear. We use subscription databases that are beyond regular weather forecasting but Weather Pro for iOS is also a really good tool.”

Pushing the Limits for Aerial Photography
A qualified pilot himself, Cameron chooses to capture most of his work from helicopters and he is planning to push the limits for aerial photography by using remote controlled Quadcopters for an upcoming personal project.

Cameron’s last personal project spanned twenty years documenting the Chesapeake Bay, culminating in a published book. He is now getting ready for a new project to document three troubled and heavily polluted rivers in Virginia. Cameron plans to use medium format for the ground work and mirror-less cameras on Quadcopters for the aerial shots.

“Flying sixty feet over a river with a Quadcopter is far less disturbing to people, cattle and wildlife than a giant turbine helicopter thumping overhead. Plus it’s also the challenge to see what I can come up with through this new way of aerial capture”.

“Renting a helicopter is at least $900 per hour and the river system is one hour flight away. So the flexibility of being able to control the aerial captures with less expense is far less limiting for my creativity.”

Working Magic in Capture One 7
Image 1, the aerial capture of the Freight train in Southern California shows how Cameron made good use of the Gradation filter, using the Clarity tool in an additional adjustments layer. “This is something I have just started doing, using that tool to bring out clouds even more.”

For Image 2, the nighttime shot of Chicago, Cameron was able to effectively correct the perspective with the Keystone tool. “Perspective correction worked great on that image. Shooting from a helicopter means that my position is sometimes limited, so having a tool like that in Capture One is a great benefit.”

Since Capture One Pro 7 was launched Cameron says he has been able to take images “a lot further compared to what I have in the past. Before, it was straight ahead to processing then going into Photoshop.”

Image 3 of a Favela in Brazil is a great example of how Cameron found the improved local adjustments to be a big bonus in Capture One Pro 7.

“Now, it’s really nice to ‘draw’ the image the way it should be, purely in Capture One.”

Cameron shows off a final example of the highly improved processing power of Capture One Pro 7 with Image 4 from 2004 of the Potomac River. “When I shot this it didn’t look anything like the final result I have today. I could never quite get the detail I wanted out of the image. This image is actually from 2004 and I am really glad that I didn’t throw away the RAW files and went to DNG as I was able to reprocess it in Capture One Pro 7. What’s interesting is looking at just how much more detail I could pull from a file that is 10 years old with Capture One Pro 7, compared to even the previous generation. I am really grateful I can go in and reprocess some of these files.”

Final thoughts on Capture One
Cameron’s final thoughts on Capture One Pro 7 can be summed up with his comment on the controversial Adobe Creative Cloud program. “I won’t sign up for Adobe’s Creative Cloud until I am pulled kicking and screaming or CS 6 will no longer work.”

“I like Capture One and I am not going to change raw converter.”

Based in Washington D.C., Cameron Davidson gives a unique perspective on the world with his aerial photography.

Cameron is also the co-founder of www.fusevisual.org, where photographers and creatives share their ideas, what tools and techniques they use and what advice they give to aspiring young professionals.

See more of Cameron’s work at camerondavidson.com

Cameron's Phase One Partner of choice is Capture Integration   

Cameron Davidson
Cameron Davidson
Cameron Davidson
Cameron Davidson
Cameron Davidson
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