Make images monochrome without needing a darkroom
MacPhun’s crusade to dominate budget photo processing software continues with Tonality, an app for making your pictures black and white.
Tonality looks very much like Intensify Pro (which we reviewed back in MF276), but – in keeping with the monochrome tone, the entire interface is black and white, save for yellow highlights for selected tools and active banks of sliders. Like Intensify – it’ll happily edit both JPEG and raw files from your camera, with a 16-bit processing engine.
Unlike its stablemate, however, the presets and sliders in Tonality are geared toward a single purpose. Open an image and it’s immediately rendered in black and white, the presets along the bottom of the interface showing thumbnails of their effects.
Lacking colour, black and white photography is amenable to variations in contrast and texture, which can help viewers focus on the image’s composition and subject without distraction. This is particularly good for adding ruggedness to male portraits. With this in mind, Tonality has Adaptive Exposure and Smart Contrast settings to take some guesswork out of mono conversion, with the Micro Structure slider adding plenty of sharpness to an image. Your changes aren’t saved until you export the final image, so don’t worry about damaging your colour originals.
A nice touch is the selection of virtual coloured filters that match those used by black and white film photographers over their lenses. Aperture had a similar system; it’s successful conversion is in picking a photograph that will be enhanced by the process. When you’ve played with Tonality for long enough you soon realise that the colour information is still there, it’s just that the saturation sliders are set to zero.
This opens up one of the most powerful features of the software: the ability to set split toning and selective colour effects. The app effectively becomes a custom Instagram generator, creating grainy
The graduated filter acts similarly to Lightroom’s, letting you control which parts of an image are altered
nice to see a traditional technique replicated in new software.
Take note that not every image is suitable for converting to black and white, and part of the skill of a vintage-looking masterpieces with vignettes and frames, making them ideal for sharing on social media.
Any collection of slider settings can be saved as a new preset for quick application to multiple images, but it will be a long time before you wear out Tonality’s selection of more than 150 presets, including film emulation, vintage looks and HDR.
Tonality looks like an app that only does one thing, however, it opens up into a much more flexible photo editing system that creates striking effects quickly and at no risk to your original files. It’s not a one-stop editing shop – you’ll want to pair this with Lightroom, Photoshop Elements or Intensify Pro – but if mono’s your thing, this is a great addition to the toolbox. Ian Evenden
A great app to complement your image editor of choice, with many ways to achieve striking pictures.
Live thumbnails show you their effects on the currently loaded image.