Monochrome is Not Just Black & White

Today’s Post by Joe Farace

Not every photograph should be in color; sometimes a black and white or toned monochrome image tells a better story. Monochrome does not always mean black and white…or even sepia. Sometimes you might want to add some color but not too much! That’s when your mirrorless camera’s digital toning modes come in handy. Many cameras lets you apply several different digital toning effects including Sepia, Blue, Purple, Green, or None. Camera-style digital filters and toning can even be applied together and since you get to see the results right away, you can decide if you like the effect and want to make any changes.

There is no one-size-fits all approach to what digital toning effect works best either! It depends on the subject itself, the original colors in the image (if you want to provide a visual hint) and the mood you’re trying to achieve. When’s the last time you heard the words “mood” and “digital” in the same sentence but that’s what the in-camera monochrome filter and toning capabilities is all about.

It was chilly when I was making this photograph of a one-room schoolhouse at the Adams County Historical Museum with a Samsung mirrorless camera. Exposure at ISO 100 was 1/90 sec at f/16 in Aperture Priority mode with a plus one-half stop exposure compensation because of the snow in the scene. The image was initially converted in camera to a black and white version using the camera’s Digital Filter feature, saved and then converted into this version with the Color filter. Yes, I ended up with three version of this shot: the original color, black & white, then the blue one shown


Joe’s book Creative Digital Monochrome Effects is currently out-of-print but is available from Amazon with, as I write this, new copies selling for less two bucks. There are 16 books available at this price so get’em while you can.