Monochrome is not just taking the colour out

Orthodox PriestMonochrome photography is not about just removing “the prettiness of colour” to quote the late Barry Thornton.

I have not posted a before and after picture for a while so here is one called “Orthodox Priest”.

The reason why this picture works for me is that I have controlled the highlight contrast provided by the two light sources i.e. the door in the background and the window to the left of the picture just out of shot.

This was done by creating a Lith effect which provides smooth low contrast in the highlights. As with all my files they are processed in Lightroom. I principally use the curves in Lightroom to do all the major contrast and brightness controls.

So for any Lith type picture a curve is created to provide smooth low contrast highlights and contrasty shadows. A big bonus for this picture is that the priest is reading from a large Bible that gives a tremendous amount of reflected light back into his face.

The perception of depth has also be controlled by the creative use of Clarity. No Clarity has been added to the picture globally, but only to the priests face with an adjustment brush.

As you can probably guess this was a low light shot taken inside of a church, the camera was on a monopod and the exposure was the 1/60th at f1.2, 800 ISO. The recurring problem with using such a wide lens aperture of f1.2, is the depth of field is miniscule and if either the subject or you move the picture’s out of focus.

As a rule the basic printing technique is to have the subject as the brightest part of the print and darken down around the subject.

Ortho Priest - OrigLeft is the original unprocessed colour file that does not work anywhere near as well as the final version for me.

This picture was a lucky find, I was looking for a picture to use in some editorial features I am creating for various magazines and I came across this shot taken in Ethiopia in 2008.

A big hello to all the new followers of my little blog this week.

(c) Andy Beel FRPS 2013

4 responses to Monochrome is not just taking the colour out

    • andybeel says:

      Hi Christian good to hear from you again. Thanks the line between getting it right and wrong can be very fine. Andy


  1. Adrian Lewis says:

    Excellent image, Andy! Having the bible as a reflector was very lucky. When we meet, I’d like to ask you about using monopods – I’ve never used one but have thought about doing so. Did you get my email of a day or two back? Are you around? Adrian


    • andybeel says:

      Hi Adrian I did reply to your email today. My monopod lives in the boot of the car so you can give it a try. Andy


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