How to create a Monochrome image from a RAW file? – Part 3

How to create a Monochrome image from a RAW file? – Part 3

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In the first part of this article series I showed you how to process a straight-out-of-camera RAW file into a beautiful color image. The second part showed how to then convert this image into a monochrome representation with Silver Efex Pro 2. But I have ended up with two monochrome images, one where I like everything but the sky and one where I like nothing but the sky. This article is going to show how to combine these two images into one single photo in Adobe® Photoshop.

Opening images in Adobe® Photoshop

I am staring my work from Lightroom, where I find both monochrome photos and mark them. To open them in Adobe® Photoshop I am clicking in the context menu on Edit in > Adobe Photoshop CC.

Before either of the images opens in Adobe® Photoshop a pop-up window opens.

Here I am choosing to Edit a Copy with Lightroom Adjustments, not that it would make much of a difference in this case, since I am now working on the TIFF files. If adjustments had been made in Adobe® Lightroom, their changes would so far only be stored in the database, but not in the photo-files themselves. In this case, however, I haven’t worked on them in Adobe® Lightroom, so either of the three choices would give the same results. Before the photos are finally opened in Adobe® Photoshop, I have to answer to another pop-up window’s choices.

Here I am choosing to keep the color profile that is already embedded in my TIFF file, which I selected upon opening Silver Efex Pro. Finally Adobe® Photoshop opens both images in two separate tabs.

The tab named _K3_10362-Bearbeitet-4.tif has the Fine Art version of my image, the tab named _K3_10362-Bearbeitet-3.tif has the High Structure Harsh version.

Combining both images in Adobe® Photoshop

In order to replace the sky in the High Structure image I am moving the Fine Art version in a separate layer on top of the layer in the file _K3_10362-Bearbeitet-3.tif. To do so I am selecting the entire image by pressing CMD+A (Windows: Ctrl+A) and use the Move Tool to drag the selected image to the other file. In the _K3_10362-Bearbeitet-3.tif tab I am first releasing the mouse button when both images are aligned on top of each other. This way I have now created a second Layer in the tab _K3_10362-Bearbeitet-3.tif, called Layer 1

Revealing the background from the lower layer

In order to select the sky in my upper layer, I am using the Quick Selection Tool with the “Add to selection” choice enabled. This works because the mountain range creates a reasonable good border between the foreground and the sky.

I am dragging the tool across the sky so that it gets selected. Finished with the first selection I am making minor adjustments along the mountain line. This by either removing areas from the selection with the Quick Selection Tool set to Substract from Selection or by adding further areas.

Adding a layer mask

Once I am satisfied with my selection I am choosing Add vector mask. This adds a mask to the upper layer, where the selected area is white and the foreground is black. The white part of the mask reveals the specific area from the layer to which the mask is applied. The black part of the mask hides that specific area from the layer the mask is applied to, therefore revealing the area from the layer below.
If my selection at this point wasn’t to my liking I could change it by drawing in shades of black on the mask to show/hide more areas from the image. In this case, however, I am satisfied with my results.

Figure 9: From RAW to Blue Tone

How do you like the final images of this process? Hopefully, this article series has helped you to create your own stunning monochrome photos. – I’d love to see your results in the comments.


1Silver Efex Pro2 belongs to the Nik Collection, which recently has been bought by DxO. A free download is available here and a new version is supposedly released mid-2018. Back to top

All trademarks and copyrighted items mentioned are the property of their respective owners.

I am in no way affiliated with any of the products used in this post-processing process. I do not receive any kind of compensation for this article.

All photos were taken by Lille Ulven photography.

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