Next Time, Consider Shooting Monochrome

by | May 24, 2019

Today’s Post by Joe Farace

The whole series is black-and-white, so when I went to shoot one of the women I only had black-and-white film with me. She had reddish hair and was a very pretty girl, a nice girl.”— Helmut Newton

When I find myself wondering, “what do I shoot next?” or start to think “there’s nothing to photograph,” I like to shoot some images in direct monochrome mode. It doesn’t have to be all of the images that get made during a particular photo session; maybe just a few to, you know, see what happens. But what if you change your mind and really really want that original at some later date to be in color?

Most cameras have a RAW+JPEG option that lets you capture a monochrome (JPEG) and color (RAW) file at the same time. Some dual-memory card slot cameras, will let you simultaneously save each file type to a different card. This approach means that you get to use the JPEG file as a digital proof that you can show the subject but have a color RAW file that you can retouch and process into black and white.

One of the biggest advantaged of having that color RAW files i that many retouching tools, including my favorite Imagenomic’s’ Portraiture, work better with color files than black and white one. So more often than not when making portraits in the studio, like the one at left, I shoot (RAW + JPEG) and convert the color file to monochrome later using Adobe Photoshop and Silver Efex Pro.

How I made this shot: Today’s image is from my eleventh portrait session with Pam Simpson and she was photographed against a 5×7-ft Savage Black Infinity vinyl background. It was shot using a Fotodiox Pro LED100WA-56 Daylight Studio LED light mounted inside a large softbox, that was placed at camera left with a Westcott 4×6-foot Scrim Jim Cine Kit with Silver/White Bounce fabric placed at camera right.

Camera used was a Canon EOS 60D with an EF-S15-85mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM lens and an exposure of 1/60 sec at f/5.6 and ISO 800. Initially retouched using Imagenomic’s Portraiture, then converted to monochrome in Silver Efex Pro before final tweaking adding some slight warming with Color Efex Pro.

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If you’re interested in learning how I shoot portraits and use cameras, lenses and lighting in my in-home studio and on location, please pick up a copy of Studio Lighting Anywhere that’s available new from for $17.07 or $6.70 used, as I write this. The Kindle version is $11.99, if you prefer a digital format format.