Use Of Monochromatic Colors In Photography


Sometimes, people become confused to answer, “What are monochromatic colors?” It is called a monochrome color scheme. As its name suggests, a monochromatic scene involves the use of tones and variations of only one particular color from the entire spectrum of colors in a picture. The key to a successful monochrome camera is to find scenes with good contrast throughout the image. Creating an appearance in one particular shade can convey a message or make a strong sense of order and uniformity.

In this article, our Portfoliobox team will give you interesting information as:

  1. Using Monochromatic colors in photography
  2. What is Monochrome Photography?
  3. What Is the Benefit of Monochrome Photography?
    • What are the advantages of monochrome camera?
  4. What Is the Difference Between Monochrome and Black and White Photography?
  5. How to Turn a Full-Color Image Into Monochrome?
    • Method №1 Switch to the Layers panel
    • Method №2 Create a copy of the layer
    • Method №3 Edit in Master mode

What is Monochrome Photography?

What is Monochrome Photography

Monochrome photography is achieved when a single color is placed against a neutral background. Color of photography can be grey, so monochrome, and black and white typically mean the same thing, but the color can also be brown, reddish brown, or blue. Any image that uses only one color in different tones is technically monochrome.

By comparison, black and white photography uses only 255 variations of grey and black and white (which are not considered colors strictly, but that's a story for another time). So, you can see why a monochrome camera is easily confused with black and white. So, if you describe a picture or setting as having a monochromatic color scheme, you mean that it has one shade (or colors) repeated in lighter, darker, and more grey tones.

Let's highlight two features of monochrome photography:

  1. The first is that it is a genuinely original expression for the artist. Monochrome photographs are still famous and are rightly considered the high art standard.
  2. And another, which is very important in monochrome photography, fits perfectly into an interior. 

What Are the Benefit of Monochromatic  Pictures and Cameras?

What Are the Benefit of Monochromatic Pictures and Cameras

One of the advantages of monochrome photography is the simplicity with which images can be converted to black and white. Nowadays, black and white images are as accessible as switching to monochrome camera mode. Some people still prefer chemical processes, but for the rest of us, it means no more dark rooms and red lights, and no more time spent processing film and printing images. The process is instantaneous. It has opened up monochrome photography for many, which is excellent news. 

Monochrome photographs make:

It is critical to have pictures of the same type or diametrically opposite to one another to match images in a composition. The first case makes achieving excellent results with a monochrome camera.

Monochrome technology makes it possible to create artistic prints, depicting the world not quite as we see it. Moreover, some subjects that are not obvious are transformed when presented in monochrome, becoming more expressive. While interesting color shots are also a kind of deception, this illusion is such that the reality is conveyed in a special way that is unique to photography through a frozen moment.

What are the advantages of a monochrome camera?

One might ask the quite logical question: "Why do we need it?" In our digital age, many disadvantages of the monochrome cameras can turn into advantages. Some of them are:

  1. When making monochrome compositions, it's hard to go wrong. All shades of the same color go well together. 
  2. The monochrome camera allows you to retain the natural colors of your images.
  3. The quality of the pictures you can get with this camera is very high.
  4. The camera allows you to capture more details than one, so the details of monochrome photography are not lost.

If you use the scan+print process, these advantages are as follows:

  1. C-41 is cheaper and more affordable than D-76.
  2. Grain is less for the monochrome film than its B&W counterparts at 400 ISO.
  3. It is smoother than monochrome. If high contrast is not the goal, the monochrome version is fine.
  4. Scanning with the Digital ICE function works with monochrome color but not with classic B/W films.

A special feature among monochrome colors of photography is the Ilford XP2 Super. It is the closest to true B/W of all its sisters since it was created with the expectation of being printed in minilabs and manually on enlargers. It's enough to compare the color of the XP2 mask with that of a Kodak BW CN, for example.

What Is the Difference Between Monochrome and Black and White Photography?

A black and white photo is a monochrome photo, and a monochrome photo is not always black and white. This is the main difference between monochrome and black-and-white photography. There are generally two main divisions in photography, black and white and monochrome:

Film comes in black and white and monochrome. Colour of the photography. 
  • The first, classic, is edited using the black-and-white "silver" process, and reduced silver crystals form the image; 
  • The second one - is manifested in color process C-41 in developer machines but gives a monochromatic image what is formed by chemical dyes in the process of silver reduction. But the silver crystals are then washed out in the bleaching process.
  • Black and white is a particular case of monochrome photography, where all intermediate tones are shades of grey. In monochrome imaging, intermediate tones are formed by shades of the same color of varying brightness. 
  • The most (formerly) common form of monochrome color but not black and white photography is sepia.
  • Monochrome colors of photography were invented to make the black and white technique more accessible to amateur photographers.

The monochrome-colour images is similar in structure to a color-negative with only one color. Consequently, it can be developed in minilab's C-41 process in developer and theoretically printed there as well. Why theoretically? Because it is hard to call a black and white picture if you print monochrome photography on color paper in a traditional minilab. At best, it would have some sort of tint (like toning), and at worst, the toning would be different colors, e.g., shades would be cold and light warm.

How to Turn a Full-Color Image Into Monochrome?

How to Turn a Full-Color Image Into Monochrome

It is up to you to decide how you want to convert the photo to monochrome. But it is essential to understand that after conversion, you should get three things - the photo should become contrast, a point of black (i.e. pure black) and a point of white (i.e. pure white). There are exceptions to every rule, and you can get away from the rules to solve your creative problems, but in classic monochrome photography, these three things are mandatory.

Our Portfoliobox professionals use two different correction layers to show you the difference between hue and contrast. We will then merge the two layers to get the best part of each one, especially with Adobe Photoshop.

Method №1 Switch to the Layers panel

Switch to the Layers panel and click Channel Mixer, or go to:

  1. Layers> 
  2. New Adjustment Layer> 
  3. Channel Mixer

With Channel Mixer, you can do more than just remove color. You can get great results by sorting colors in monochrome cameras by channel. It will change the input and output levels. You can get lighter or darker shades. You can change the contrast across the shade, which it was used mainly to darken the background. You can experiment with each channel and see what you like better. You can work with the red channel in a portrait, as the skin tone is usually red, and highlight your subject that way.

Method №2 Hue/Saturation

  • Create an adjustment layer 
  • New Adjustment Layer 
  • Hue/Saturation
  • Move the Saturation slider to the left, thus removing the color.

Both options just bleach the picture. The color information is lost completely and you have no control over the transformation. This is one of the complex ways, and it is only suitable if you have taken the photo with luminance contrast in mind. But being able to see a scene in monochrome is not easy and requires skill.

Method №3 Color Channel Mixing

With the "Channel Mixing" adjustment, you can create high-quality images in grayscale, sepia, or other monochrome colors. Monochrome photography displays the color channels as grayscale values. Adjust the percentages for each channel to fine-tune the overall appearance of the grayscale image. And a more complex algorithm would look like this:

  1. Select the composite color channel in the Channels panel.
  2. Apply the "Channel Mixing" correction.
  3. In the Properties panel, do one of the following.
    • Select Monochrome.
    • Select one of the default parameter sets in the Channel Mix menu.
    • Black & White, Infrared (RGB)
      Red = -70%, Green = 200%, Blue = -30%
      Black and White with Blue Filter (RGB)
      Red = 0%, Green = 0%, Blue = 100%
      Black and white with green filter (RGB)
      Red = 0%, Green = 100%, Blue = 0%
      Black and white with orange filter (RGB)
      Red = 50%, Green = 50%, Blue = 0%
      Black and white with red filter (RGB)
      Red = 100%, Green = 0%, Blue = 0%
      Black and white with yellow filter (RGB)
      Red = 34%, Green = 66%, Blue = 0%
  4. Before adjusting the percentage contribution of the original channels, see how each of the original channels affects the monochrome image. For example, check how the image would look in RGB mode if you chose +100% for the Red channel and 0% for the Green and Blue source channels. Then review the image with the original green channel at +100% and the other two at 0%. Finally, view the image with the original blue channel at +100% and the other two at 0%. Drag the slider or enter a value directly into the Constant parameter field.
  5. This parameter adjusts the amount of grey in the output channel. If its value is less than zero, more black is added, while if its value is greater than zero, more white is added. If the parameter value is -200%, the output channel is black, but if it is +200%, the output channel is white.

Now it remains to compare our monochrome photography, obtained in the way described above, with a bleached photo. Even with the naked eye, you can see that the difference is quite significant. Therefore, although this method takes a bit more time, it's worth it.

A Word From Portfoliobox

To sum up, monochrome photography still occupies a large share of all photographic production today. Nowadays, it's not so much a method of acquisition as one of photo processing. Modern digital cameras allow you to shoot in monochrome color immediately, but it's not the best option. It is much more accurate and effective to convert the color photo to monochrome on the computer. That's what most photographers do. With the Portvofliobox you can harmoniously complement your portfolio with monochrome images.


What are monochromatic colors of photography?

A monochromatic color scheme is a single-color palette that includes dark shades or tones and a gamut of hues. Using such a basic color scheme makes a bold statement in any design, photograph, interior, or other visual picture.

What is the secret to the perfect monochromatic color scheme?

For this purpose, you can use the 60-30-10 rule. It works as: 60% is the dominant shade, 30% is the secondary color, and 10% is the accent color. It is a pretty old rule from interior design that may help you to make a perfect balance. The formula works because it allows the eye to move comfortably from one focal point to the next.

What colors go well with monochrome?

Electric, blue, azure, and light blue work well together. Monochrome combinations are uncomplicated and relatively clear, so if you are just starting with color, pay attention to the color wheel. On the color wheel, choose one sector and compose a set using only those shades. 

Is it possible to create a monochromatic effect using filters?

Yes, it is possible to achieve this effect with filters. You will need to use the 'Add Noise' filter in Photoshop. Use Filter>Noise>Add Noise.

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