Leica M Monochrom Image Editing Tutorial- Getting more POP out of your MM images

Started Dec 9, 2012 | Discussions
ashwinrao1 Senior Member • Posts: 2,723
Leica M Monochrom Image Editing Tutorial- Getting more POP out of your MM images
7

Hi everyone,

Some of you have contacted me to ask how I have edited Leica M Monochrom photo files. For MM files, I generally have an “all Adobe Lightroom 4” workflow. I wanted to provide a rough sketch, using one image as an example, of how I go about making adjustments to provide more pop to the image. This image, which you may have already seen, was taken in New York, during my very first session with the MM, using a modern lens, the 50 mm f/1.4 Summilux Asph, a lens which many of you love and own. Let me take you through how I shot and edited this image, with step-by step images to demonstrate adjustments.

First off, here’s the base file to work with:



ORIGINAL IMAGE

And here’s the final image:

FINAL IMAGE

Let’s start with basic EXIF info/shooting parameters

Lens: Leica 50 mm f/1.4 Summilux Asph lens

Aperture: f/2

ISO: 320

Shutter speed: 1/1500 sec

Exp comp: -1/3

Now, here’s a step by step series of adjustments made to achieve the end result, with images.

Image 1: Base image (slight crop from the original frame)

Image 1- Base Image (unedited, out of camera RAW to JPEG conversion)

Image 2: To achieve this, I made a “exposure” adjustment, using curves, to bring the histogram to a more standard distribution. This was done, as I typically shoot images at a a -1/3 to -2/3 exposure compensation to save highlights

Image 2- Exposure Adjustment

Image 3: The image still seems a bit flat, so I boost contrast. Increase contrast to +50

Image 3- Contrast adjustment

What I notice in doing this is that the image remains darker in the the shadows and still grey in the areas which I’d prefer to see whiter whites. This, my next move involves using the “highlight” slider to bring out whiltes

Image 4: increase highlight slider to +40

Image 4- Building Highlights

The shadow/darker areas of the image (jeans on the central figure, for example) still look dark, so I now move in to boost some shadow detail.

Image 5: Increase shadow slider to +40

Image 5- Bringing out the shadows

Okay, that’s starting to look a bit better, but I sense that the image lacks a bit of pop. This is where the clarity slider comes in. One must be careful using the clarity slider in LR4. It can add much needed pop, but at the same time, it can make bokeh look harsh and jagged. In some cases, when I want to make certain areas pop more, I’ll use use the clarity brush to selectively “paint” areas with more clarity. For this image, bokeh isn’t so important, so I simply use the clarity slider

Image 6: Increase clarity slider to +0.5, followed by some adjustments using the brush tool  to burn figures a bit more: Exp 0.4, contrast 0.25, highlights 0.6, shadows 0.4, clarity, 0.5, sharpness 0.1

Image 6- Brush adjustments

Yup, that really helps the image. I could well stop here,

I am a fan of adding a touch of vignetting to draw the viewer into the important parts of the image. Not everyone agrees with this practice, but I enjoy adjusting vignetting to pull the viewer into the image:

Image 7: Add post crop vignette, set to highlight priority, - 15 amount

Image 7 - Vignetting added

Okay, now to make things a bit more film-like. That means grain. I have found that the following settings give me a “Tri-X” grain in LR. One can easily use Nik Silver Efex here and may do better, but I find LR4’s grain tool to be satisfiying

Image 8: Add grain, amount 40, size 20, roughness 60

Image 8 - Adding "Film-like" grain

As a final touch, I adjust the white slider a bit to bring the highlights out ever so much, withouth blowing things out of propoertion

Image 9: White slider to + 10

Image 9- Final Edit

I make sure to check curves to make sure not too much clipping, check file to see if it looks natural. And there you have it. Presto..final image.

Hope you find this “tutorial” insightful. All the best to those of you who take on the M Monochrom challenge. It’s a blast to use this camera….

All the best,

Ashwin

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Knorp
Knorp Veteran Member • Posts: 3,057
Re: Leica M Monochrom Image Editing Tutorial- Getting more POP out of your MM images

Hi there Ashwin,

thank you for showing us a piece of your PP magic for the MM.

I'm sure many will benefit from this tutorial as it provides an excellent starting point and insight in b/w processing.

Now if only I had an MM ...

All the best.

........................................................................................................
Bart

janlu
janlu Veteran Member • Posts: 7,309
Re: Leica M Monochrom Image Editing Tutorial- Getting more POP out of your MM images

Hello Ashwin , I really agree with Bart...... This is useful not only for who own an MM , indeed a very good starting point to approach the conversion too !!!

Thanks very much , and best regards, Gianluca

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odin_cro Senior Member • Posts: 1,405
Thank you Ashwin :)
2

Even though I can only dream about MM, I find your tutorial very inspiring and educative, even for us with 'regular' cameras

Thank you for generous sharing of your skills

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(unknown member) Contributing Member • Posts: 710
Re: Leica M Monochrom Image Editing Tutorial- Getting more POP out of your MM images

Excellent write-up Ashwin! Thanks for sharing your MM workflow!

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Daedalus2000
Daedalus2000 Veteran Member • Posts: 8,414
Re: Leica M Monochrom Image Editing Tutorial- Getting more POP out of your MM images
1

Hi Ashwin,

First of all many thanks for the wonderful post and the tutorial. As everyone said it is useful even for us that do not have the MM.

Some comments if you do not mind.

In image 6 you say:

Image 6: Increase clarity slider to +0.5, followed by some adjustments using the brush tool to burn figures a bit more: Exp 0.4, contrast 0.25, highlights 0.6, shadows 0.4, clarity, 0.5, sharpness 0.1

I do not understand these numbers. I think clarity, contrast, highlights, shadows and sharpness are all whole numbers in LR4. What do you mean by numbers like 0.5? Do you mean 50?

Also, would you be willing to discuss alternative edits? I personally find your final edit too contrasty for my taste and I am not very keen on the grain, but of course these are personal tastes anyway. But it maybe fun to share the raw file with us and see how other people would interpret your picture. That will make the tutorial more interactive! I did some work on the jpeg but I would not post it here unless you are happy for me to do so.

In any case, do you mind sharing the histogram of your final edit with us? It will help us see how it changed form the original one.

Best Regards, D

OP ashwinrao1 Senior Member • Posts: 2,723
Re: Leica M Monochrom Image Editing Tutorial- Getting more POP out of your MM images

Thanks so much, Bart! Hope it is useful if an MM gets to you!

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OP ashwinrao1 Senior Member • Posts: 2,723
Re: Leica M Monochrom Image Editing Tutorial- Getting more POP out of your MM images

Thanks to you, everybody. I would love to share such an image specifically using a RAW file. How are I have no location or method by which to share this image other than individually through emails. If any of you has a place to post such an image for allowing editing, I would be more than happy to share. This set of conversions is my interpretation at this very specific time.. I could easily change my mind down the road as to how I see the image. Further I find that using classic lenses provides a more gentle rendering that is more true to what I consider to be black-and-white photography than the current modern Leica asph lens collection. In fact, editing with classic lenses may yield a slightly different workflow and adjustments based on the macro contrast and properties of older lenses.

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OP ashwinrao1 Senior Member • Posts: 2,723
Re: Leica M Monochrom Image Editing Tutorial- Getting more POP out of your MM images

Hi D, you are right. I turned how hole numbers into fractions ....whoops!

Please also see my following comments regarding photo editing and processing techniques. I do feel that lens choice, one's own mood and sentiments at the moment, and a few other factors can easily play into how one would edit any particular image. This just happens to be my take at the moment on how to interpret like and the M images so as to make them provide more pop....

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Daedalus2000
Daedalus2000 Veteran Member • Posts: 8,414
Re: Leica M Monochrom Image Editing Tutorial- Getting more POP out of your MM images

Please also see my following comments regarding photo editing and processing techniques. I do feel that lens choice, one's own mood and sentiments at the moment, and a few other factors can easily play into how one would edit any particular image. This just happens to be my take at the moment on how to interpret like and the M images so as to make them provide more pop....

Hi Ashwin

Thanks very much for you reply and for willing to share the raw file. I am sure someone will find a solution for it, I personally do not have a any public space I can use.

Of course, I respect your interpretation of the image and the final edit, you are the artist in this case so your vision is the most important! My suggestion was to use the raw to discover alternative ways of processing MM files which may be useful for other people as well. I had a couple of ideas, but I prefer to play with the MM file first before I post anything unintelligent!

Best Regards

D

heinerpattaya Regular Member • Posts: 184
Re: Leica M Monochrom Image Editing Tutorial- Getting more POP out of your MM images

Dear Ashwin,

I definetly do not like Leica Mono photos although a big Leica fan nowadays.

I saw a lot of your photos on this and Steve Huff's page and want to take the oportunity to contact you as I might buy a M 8 and as far as I rememeber you had one and upgraded to M 9.

My e mail is heiner1960@hotmail.com, can we communicated privately, I need somne advice.

Best regards

Heiner

Prosophos
Prosophos Senior Member • Posts: 2,194
Dear Ashwin.
1

So nice of you to post this.

I wonder if people realize how generous you are being, in sharing your workflow like this.

I won't be processing any Monochrom files soon - I just wanted to recognize your nice gesture.

Respectfully,

Peter.

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Peter | Prosophos
www.prosophos.com

mydarkroom Regular Member • Posts: 221
Re: Leica M Monochrom Image Editing Tutorial- Getting more POP out of your MM images

Hi Ashwin,

Thank you very much for posting this detailed tutorial! This is extremely helpful for me since I am just starting to use Lightroom (while waiting Aperture support for the MM).

Keep posting your wonderful images.

Cheers

Raf

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Rafael
http://www.mydarkroom.ca/ - My portfolio and Blog

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Leica M9 Leica M-Monochrom Leica Elmarit-M 28mm f/2.8 ASPH Leica Summilux-M 35mm f/1.4 ASPH Leica Noctilux-M 50mm f/0.95 ASPH +5 more
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