It’s Wednesday, Try Some Monochrome Portraits

by | Oct 9, 2019

Today’s Post by Joe Farace

One of the things that I like to do to get out of a photographic rut is to shoot some of the photographs made during a portrait session in direct monochrome mode. It doesn’t have to be all of the images in a session; just a few to, you know, see what happens. If you think that’s a bad idea because you worry about changing your mind later and want that original image to be in color, there are options:

Most cameras have a RAW+JPEG option that lets you capture a monochrome (JPEG) and color (RAW) file at the same time. Most dual-slot cameras, even let you simultaneously save each file type to a different card. That’s why these days during all of my portrait shoots, I use RAW+JPEG capture.

How I made this shot: If you prefer to capture in color and convert to monochrome later in the digital darkroom that’s not a bad idea. It’s how I made the window light portrait of Michelle Monroe at left. It was shot with a Canon EOS 60D and 28-105mm lens with an available light exposure of 1/200 at f/5.6 and ISO 800. Even though I used some plus exposure compensation, this exposure produced some slight underexposure, that was repaired using a technique I explain here

The biggest advantage of post converting portraits is that all of my favorite retouching tools such as Imagenomic’s’ Portraiture work so much better in color because there are so many more tones for the software to access, making retouching smother and more natural. Tip: On using Portraiture. Enlarge the image on your screen and lower the opacity level of the retouched layer until you see that some skin texture shows. That keeps you from creating the kind of “plastic skin” you see to often in portrait and glamour images on the Web and social media.

For a true behind-the-scenes look at how this portrait session went for me, please read the first installment of Stupid Photographer Tricks. The title alone should be a hint…

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


Joe is the author of Creative Digital Monochrome Effects with used copies available from Amazon for a little more than two bucks. Brand new, collector priced books are available for $45. No Kindle versions available at this time.