One of the things I like to do to get out of a rut is to make some portraits in monochrome mode. It doesn’t have to be all of the images that you make during a session; maybe just a few to see what happens. If you think that’s a bad idea because you worry about what happens if you change your mind and want that original at some later date to be in color? Most SLRs cameras have a RAW+JPEG option that lets you capture a monochrome (JPEG) and color (RAW) file at the same time. Some dual-slot camera, let you simultaneously save each file type to a different card. My old but dependable Canon EOS 1D Mark II N lets me, for example, shoot RAW on the CompactFlash card and JPEG files onto the SD card.
If you prefer to capture in color and convert to monochrome later in the digital darkroom that’s not a bad idea either. The biggest differences is that most retouching tools, including my favorite—Imagenomic’s’ Portraiture—work better with color files. Tip: To avoid plasticky skin tones, apply the retouching from Portraiture to a separate layer then uses Photoshop’s Opacity menu to lower the overall effect so that you see actual skin tone. That’s why more often than not I shoot portraits in color and convert to monochrome later using Silver Efex Pro.
N is for normal. Normal as in 50mm lens, anyway. Subject is my former muse Tia Stoneman photographed outdoors in the doorway of an old building that has since been remodeled into something nicer but with decidedly less character. I asked Tia to stand in the doorway and raise her hand into the frame, then the pose was refined—shooting through the pose—before arriving at this shot after eight different variations. Image captured directly in monochrome mode using a Canon EOS 50D with an EX550 speedlight used for fill. And if you know of any models or aspiring models who would like to become a muse, please have them Contact me.
Joe is the author of Posing for Portrait and Glamour Photography that’s available at your favorite book or camera store as well as Amazon.com. A limited number of signed copies for $25 (including shipping) including a signed 5×7 print of one of the images from the book is available. To order click on CONTACT above.