Color Versus Monochrome

Taking a lot of photos has made me a better photographer. They’ve also made me a better Photoshopper. Without Photoshop (or sometimes “The Gimp” – a free equivalent) I’d be lost.

My pictures are sharpened and brightened and intensified. They don’t necessarily look exactly like what I photographed. They tend to look like what I want to remember.

I sense, if you had traveled the west with Ansel Adams, you wouldn’t have seen exactly what his amazing photos show. So much of what is portrayed on his prints is the product of the time and effort he spent in the darkroom.

From time-to-time I make offers to friends to help them with their photos. Sometimes I can make a real difference. Sometimes I just want to fool around with someone else’s work to see if there’s something in their shooting technique I can use later.

I’ve been bugging Noah Finz, our sports director at work, to bring some photos of his daughter Paulina, so I could make a poster. In the past I’ve done oversize composites of orchids and our Mexican vacation. I’d never concentrated on a single person.

Last week Noah brought about a dozen shots, and I went to work. I had asked for close-ups, which he had.

Paulina is incredibly photogenic and expressive. The poster came together quickly and easily. I liked how it turned out.

Then, I experimented.

I went to each photo individually, converting it from color to monochrome with fairly high contrast. There is a ‘desaturate’ button that will do all this, but I wanted more control and the ability to achieve a more stylized outcome.

I then added an orange filter. It actually doesn’t look orange in the finished product, and I’m not sure why. I tried to adjust it to warm the print and give it a classic look.

I did some A/B comparisons. I like the tinted monochrome version better. Maybe I’m biased, since it was my decision to go on from the color version. I don’t know.

To me, in the color version, Paulina’s clothes are too bright. They detract from her. Let Paulina be the center of attention.

In this way, photos differ from real life. I’m sure she was as adorable as could be wearing bright colors. Like I said, I want the finished piece to look like what I want to remember.

Blogger’s note: Click on either photo to see a larger version. The actual files being printed for Noah are significantly larger still – too large to fit on your computer’s monitor.