Making monochrome images from black and white, model at the piano

Often I keep my images as I shot them, retouching is often a simple case of adjust a few sliders in the RAW conversion. I also use Canon’s Digital Photo Professional software for a lot of my RAW conversions. Sure it’s not the slickest workflow and it’s not the fastest RAW converter, but to my eye it does produce great colour in my pictures. I’ve long been a fan of Canon’s downloadable P-STUDIO Picture Style for working in the studio. For me it does good things with skin tones, though I often set the camera to have a little more sharpening.

Taking the original colour shot of the model at the piano as a case in point I decided I wanted to make this a much more contrasty monochrome image. My habit in such cases often is to go to DPP, select the monochrome Picture Style and then choose the red filter. It’s a simple trick and lightens skin tone, darkening lips and eyes often. However with the colour of the lipstick my models was wearing it wasn’t producing what I was trying to achieve.

Image converted to monochrome with a red filter

Image converted to mono with red filter

So ‘experimenting’ again with the DPP sliders I selected a green filter and then my image had a quite different look, but still not all I needed.

Image converted to monochrome with green filter

Image converted to mono with green filter

Time for some Photoshop. I could quickly export from DPP to Photoshop 16-bit TIFF images using the DPP Tools > Transfer to Photoshop menu. I did this twice, once for the image with the red filter and one for the green filtered version. In Photoshop I made the green filtered image a layer above my red filtered one, and then choose the hard light blend mode for the green filtered image. My work was almost done, it really was that simple. Still it need a little something so reducing the opacity of the hard light blended layer  almost completed the result. Though I did use another layer with overlay blend mode and some little brush work to selectively lighten some of the darker elements on the models face, and ease back the shadows to the side of her cheek. My final result is here, and it looks awesome printed on a baryta type glossy paper.

Image with blended green and red filtered monochrome images

Photoshop hard light blending with red and green filtered RAW conversions

About the author

Full-time photo tutor and photographer. I love to share my knowledge and skills to make photos, videos and teach others. I write books and articles for photo magazines and I always have at least one Speedlite flash in my camera bag