Monochrome Madness: Tips On Processing

Clint in B&W

Monochrome Madness: Tips On Processing

Monochrome Madness has reached its 22nd week and is still full of surprises and diversity! Thank you to Leanne Cole and Laura Macky for bringing us all together.

I wanted to talk about the processing that went into creating my image for this weeks challenge. I spotted this beautiful horse, a show jumper called Clint, at the Elm Lane Stables where young Mylie was competing in her first show.

He was braying for my attention and I couldn’t resist! Such beautiful lines and markings, he reminded me so much of some of the horses that I used to love painting and sketching.

His pasture was elevated from my position which enabled me to get a great base image of his profile against the sky from which I could work on to get the look I wanted.



I imported my original image into Lightroom to get all my levels, hues, saturation and contrast right. I also cleaned up the foreground, removing the strands of grass and thistle with the cloning tool.

First edit in Lightroom

I really like this edit, it’s soft and natural. However, I really wanted to get the look of a pencil or charcoal drawing. I tried a monochrome edit in the Nik Software plugin but I wasn’t happy with the results this time. I just couldn’t quite get the detail right!

Nik Software edit

At this stage I imported my first Lightroom edit into Photoshop CC to make use of some of my customisable Action Pre-sets and brush tools. I was able to isolate my subject using the wand and selection tools to get a crisp white background. I managed to achieve a really punchy, vibrant edit, reminiscent of a pastel drawing, which I accentuated using the smudge and blur tools.

Final Colour Edit

I then used the Greater Than Gatsby Timeless Black and White Action, with a few custom tweaks for my Monochrome Madness image. Really happy with it and I hope you like it too! Here’s a gallery to show the evolution from start to finish.


30 comments on “Monochrome Madness: Tips On Processing

  1. Thanks for detailing the process, Sarah. I’m a LR fanatic and am just venturing into PS CC, so your instruction and explanation was spot on. Cheers!

    • Thank you πŸ™‚ It was just a basic explanation but I hoped it would be enough to encourage others to experiment and try different ways of working. Much of my photography is just processed in Lightroom which, like you, I absolutely swear by! I love taking some images to another level though so Photoshop is my tool of choice for really creating art. There are lots of great tutorials on the web but you’ll learn the most by just experimenting and having fun with your work πŸ™‚

  2. Very beautiful images, Sarah – and its very good to hear about the techniques you used – I wish more bloggers would talk about that. Good stuff! Adrian πŸ™‚

    • Thanks Adrian πŸ™‚ I tried not to go into too much detail as I’m not very good at wordy blogs! It’s nice to show a bit of the process with quite a stylized image and to explain why I processed it in that way. I love getting tips, ideas and inspiration from fellow bloggers πŸ™‚ Like so many, I’m completely self taught when it comes to the software. Having a background in darkroom developing really helps! Mostly I want to encourage others to experiment with their work.

    • Thank you! Such a beautiful horse. As I said, you really do need to have a good base image before going into full photoshop processing. Some people think that photoshop is all about “fixing” an image that’s not so great, but it’s really about putting the final touches to a piece of art πŸ™‚

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