Having Fun with Magical Monochrome Manipulations

by | Nov 5, 2020

Today’s Post by Joe Farace

Editorial Note: So far, I have resisted buying into Adobe’s subscription service for Photoshop mainly because I can’t afford to. But I recognize that active pros need to have (and can afford) the latest tools. All the Photoshop tips and tools you see on this blog were made using Photoshop CS6. For an interesting perspective on this choice, please read the last paragraph on this post that talks about my experience talking with a successful travel photographer and the software that he uses.

Proving that you can, in fact, change your tune, Paul Simon altered the lyrics of his 1973 hit song Kodachrome from the original “…everything looks worse in black and white.” When he performed the song at a concert in Central Park on August 15, 1991 everything looked “better.” I happen to agree with him.

There are lots of ways to create monochrome digital images but the easiest way to create a black and white digital image is in the camera at the time of capture. Many DSLRs and mirrorless cameras have built-in monochrome options and some even have modes that enhance gray tones while making the rest of the colors look less vibrant creating an old-fashioned even hand-colored look. Worried about losing that color original? Tip: Shoot in RAW+JPEG and you’ll simultaneously capture two files: A color RAW file along with a monochrome JPEG. If you originally captured a color image file, there is lots of software available to convert that image if and when you change your mind later one.

The beautiful 1953 Chevrolet Woodie wagon that’s above right (please correct me if I have the year wrong) shown in the illustration is in the Vehicle Vault collection in Parker, Colorado. It was originally photographed in color using a Nikon D780 with VR 24-120mm f/4G lens. Exposure was 1/30 sec at f/9 and ISO 8000. Yes, 8000. Noise? It was insignificant.

Before it was converted to monochrome, I applied the Flood filter from Flaming Pear Software. Then the image was cropped into 2:3 ratio using Photoshop’s crop tool and then converted to monochrome using the Platinum preset from Exposure Software’s Exposure X4. An explanation is needed here: For some reason, Exposure X5 will not currently run (correctly anyway) on my 5K iMac; I can’t install X6 probably for the same reason, so I have been happily using this old version since it seems to suit my modus operandi. The final touch was adding the Glamour Glow filter from Color Efex Pro to add a little nostalgia, kicking up the glow warmth to further warm the image.



If you enjoyed today’s blog post and would like to treat me to a cup of Earl Grey tea ($2.50), please click here. And if you do, thanks so much.

Along with photographer Barry Staver, I’m co-author of Better Available Light Digital Photography that’s available from Amazon for $21.87 prices with used copies selling at the giveaway price of around five bucks, as I write this. The Kindle version is extremely expensive for some reason—not Barry or me.