Zenfolio | mark ali | photographs | Sepia, What Is It Good For? (Part 1 of 3)

Sepia, What Is It Good For? (Part 1 of 3)

July 15, 2018  •  Leave a Comment

Simon & Garfunkel once said "Everything looks worse in black and white". 

The song was "Kodachrome", a tune that every photographer is familiar with.  They changed "worse" to "better" during their 1981 concert in Central Park.  No doubt a nod to their advancing age. 

Or they just forgot the words.

Anyway, the decision to apply a monochrome ("black and white") treatment to a photo depends on many things. Probably the most important, I think, is the color and contrast in the image.  Some images really pop in monochrome, some don't. 

Also important is the mood of the photo - or at least the mood that you're going for.  A great variation on the standard monochrome treatment is "sepia" toning (pronounced "see-pee-uh").  An image rendered with sepia toning has more of a reddish-brown coloring, and generally has the feel of an old photo, or at least a photo of an old subject.  So if that's the mood you'd like to achieve, sepia will probably get you there.

I applied a sepia treatment to some interior photos taken while visiting Casa Loma, a Gothic Revival mansion in Toronto.

Sometimes, a monochrome/sepia treatment helps a photo, sometimes it doesn't.  Sometimes it's better with, sometimes it's better without.  Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don't.

I'll share both the color and the sepia images here, and let you decide.  I won't hit you with them all at once - we'll start with one image in this post, and follow up with the others in the next few posts.

So, let's start simple with this image of an old-style telephone, nestled in a nook in the wall in one of the rooms of the mansion.

The color image:

Telephone, Casa LomaTelephone, Casa LomaA telephone inside Casa Loma, in Toronto.

And the sepia image:

Telephone, Casa Loma (Sepia)Telephone, Casa Loma (Sepia)A telephone inside Casa Loma, in Toronto (rendered in sepia tones).


You be the judge - which is the better treatment?  Is the color image more pleasing to the eye?  Or, does the sepia image add a historic feel to the photo?  Let me know what you think in the comments (or email me directly).

Stay tuned for the next few images...




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