Monochrom Workflow

Yes, we like MONO!

This is the first of a series of tutorials. Our purpose is to show how deep and varied is our product offer for both amateurs and professional photographers.
In this tutorial, we will start giving advice and suggestions to users curious about our Leica Monochrome emulation offer. We are aware of the infinite black and white solutions the market has to offer and the following words are not an absolute claim of how perfect is our product.

There is an absolute aura of mystery around the monochrome sensors, Foveon, Leica or Phase One; seems like they are a factory of magic pictures and that is at the same time funny and not totally wrong.
Let’s pick the Leica one, yes it’s very clean and sharp thanks to the lack of Bayer layer and we can enjoy the superclean 10k ISO pictures coming out SOOC or the perceived higher resolution on 100% pixel peeping.
But today we all shot with cameras able to give us both super-sharp pictures using the Bayer matrix, and extremely good high iso noise levels without being limited on the colour side.

So, why should I choose a Monochrom camera besides the low noise or higher details or should I buy an emulation for my Bayer camera to “emulate” that output?
The answer is a mystery if you look all around the web and is quite easier to achieve if you try a real Mono camera and you try one of our emulation profiles: to be able to work on a clean, full of different shades, monochrome file.

This is the starting point for our tutorial.
I shot this picture at the beginning of an eruption on Mount Etna with my Leica M9 and my Zeiss zm85. This tutorial will follow a process quite similar both on Lightroom/Lightroom CC and Capture One; I will show the Lightroom CC one.
As you can see this is the picture just imported on Lightroom CC.

A1-After a small crop, I am quite sure I will get what I want from this image just converting it to Black and White using my Monochrome CCD emulation with a red filter to enhance sky contrast, now we have the scientific reproduction of what a Leica Monochrome gives using a red filter over the lens besides fine details and noise levels (we are still working on a Bayer matrix demosaiced image). And yes, is quite pleasing to my eyes, but not enough!

 

A2-Well, now we did adjust the curve and recovered most of the highlights removing some haze with dehaze. Yes, now we have done the most using a standard profile and now we could improve the image using masking and local corrections not before some details adjustments and spot removal.
A good result for a fast editing session!

But, we want the feeling of a Monochrom sensor, even on editing!

 

B1-So we start again cropping and selecting the Monochrom CCD LINEAR now. You see a very flat and grey image, the raw data from the sensor is on your screen without curves and contrast added from your profile, the right starting point for a proper “monochrome” editing

B2-The first step, CURVE; why in capital letters? because now, starting from a linear profile, the curve is not just an adjustment but THE pillar of our process to give what you want to your file stretching it to a good point. Please do not forget to use the clippings from highlights or shadows to “stay in  range”. As you can see compared with the previous editing, the top of the plume is perfect, we don’t have the need to recover any highlights, that’s one of the perks of the linear profile.

 

B3-The second perk of the linear profile is the room for some settings as the dehaze, now easier to manage with higher settings. The image is getting even more layered with an intense pop-up effect. Please do not forget I am just adding some of my taste on the settings showing a potential editing workflow to properly use our profiles.

 

B4-All the settings already applied are exactly the same whatever you use Camera Raw, Lightroom, Lightroom CC or even Capture One. The same is for the next, the Color Grading. You can just use it as a mask for thin adjustments on shadows, mid-tones and highlights (as I did) or, why not,  to change the tones with the very common “cold shadows / warm highlights” or even more complex solutions.

 

B5-The final result, spot removal, details, masked textures and clarity, some vignetting. That’s just one interpretation of a workflow using the linear profile of the Monochrome CCD pack. As you can see I had more room for the editing thanks to the linear profile as I worked with a proper super editable Monochrome sensor. All using curves, dehaze and colour grading; that gives us more room for other customizations using powerful commands like shadow or highlights recovery, white and black point, etc.
And that on a very “strict” Bayer CCD sensor, the one of the Leica M9.

As you can see below there is the starting point (linear) and the final result of my taste.

 

 

Hope you enjoyed this small tutorial, feel free to comment below!

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