Controlling Color: Go Monochrome

One of the easiest ways to eliminate color shifts is to simply to eliminate the color! Ok, maybe you think that’s cheating but sometimes a monochrome image is just what you need to focus the attention on the real subject and not the color. And monochrome doesn’t have to mean “black & white.” It’s “a picture done in different shades of a single color,” which in the photo world means toning.

Here’s a way to produce a monochrome image that takes a color image and transforms it into a more dynamic photograph—at least I hope that’s the case. The original and unretouched JPEG file is at left. It was made with a Canon EOS 50D and EF 28-105mm lens. EXIF data shows flash was used but other than a tiny catchlight in the subject’s eyes, there appears to be no other effect of using flash.

Below, I used a Selection tools to Copy, Paste, and rotate the model’s head to make it appear more square to the camera. Then I cropped into a shape that to fit a book cover (the publisher had other ideas, see below,) then was retouched it using Clone. Healing Brush, and the underutilized Dodge and Burn tools.

Next, I converted the photograph into black and white using the free Silver Efex Pro, which created the first layer (working from bottom to top.) Then I uses Color Stylizer filter that’s part of the also free Color Efex Pro. This was followed up with the Glamour Glow filter that’s part of the Color. Because all of the effects are applied to different layers, you can vary the intensity of each one to produce the desired effect. I turned off the Background (color) layer because I wanted to use the black and white version for the basis of the final image.

faceIn the final portrait, the subject’s red hair and color outfit have been controlled allowing the viewer to focus on her face. Once you start retouching, especially at higher magnifications, you begin see little details that you want to improve but sooner or later you have to quit. Tip: I have a 20-minute rule: If the finished photograph isn’t the way I want it to look after 20 minutes, it’s never going to satisfy me so I start again with another image.

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For more information on how I shoot glamour and boudoir images, pick up a copy of my book “Joe Farace’s Glamour Photography,” it includes tips and tricks and techniques for shooting with inexpensiveness and simple equipment.

Author: Joe Farace

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