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Update August 7, 2018 – Macphun’s Creative Kit (including Tonality Pro) is now considered legacy software and is no longer available for purchase. However, most of the Creative Kit technology has been integrated into Luminar – available for both Mac and Windows. Click here to purchase and make sure you use coupon code ANGANDRIEUX to save $10 on your purchase!
I’ve been using Tonality Pro for about a month. In that time its become one of my go-to tools in my post processing toolbox, not only for black and white photographs, but for many styles of monochrome and uniquely toned images. I’m constantly impressed with the range of options available for adjusting my photos. Some of my favorite features include the split toning capability, lens blur emulation and glow engine (which I’ll demonstrate below).
Not Just For Black & White
One of the features that keeps me going back to Tonality Pro is the toning control. I often start with a toned preset and then modify the colors to suit my taste. I’ve ended up with some very unique, creative results such as with “Forgotten Glory”, the staircase to nowhere in Pismo Beach, CA and many of my photos from the Castello di Amorosa.
Windandsea Beach, Two Ways
To showcase some of Tonality Pro’s capabilities I’ve chosen a long-exposure photograph that I captured in March from Windandsea Beach in La Jolla, CA. Windandsea is a favorite spot for local photographers and is prime for long-exposure photography. I’ve processed two versions of this photograph using Lightroom and Tonality Pro. One lets through a bit of the original color that was present that evening, and the other is a very traditional black and white.
One of the first things I do with most plug-ins is skim through the presets to find one that makes a good starting point. For this version of my Windandsea Rocks, “Sleepy Forest” in the Outdoor preset category jumped out at me. I made only subtle adjustments by amplifying the whites and increasing the glow.
Once the photograph was saved and reimported back into Lightroom I made a few selective adjustments to sharpen the rocks, reduce noise in the dark areas, and added a bit of vignette to draw the eye to the subject.
Layers & Masking
For the second version of this photograph I also reviewed the presets. In many instances I found versions that made the water a beautiful creamy texture, and others that brought out great detail in the rocks…but none of them fulfilled both desires. Instead I made use of Tonality Pro’s layering ability to create one layer with the water perfectly creamy, and another layer to bring out the detail in the rocks.
I started with basic presets and chose “Bright & Airy”. It was beautifully soft, but a bit flat. To fix that issue I increased the adaptive exposure, amplified the whites, and increased the glow.
Next I created a new layer to work on the rocks. I chose the “Boost Clarity” preset (also in the basic category). Since I only wanted the effect to show on the rocks I switched to the paint brush, lowered my opacity to 35%, and brushed a bit of detail onto the rocks, leaving the rest of my image soft and lovely.
Once back in Lightroom I used the adjustment brush to reduce the highlights in the bottom right of the photo (I found that bright spot to be a bit distracting) and selectively did a bit of sharpening and noise reduction.
Which do you prefer?
Personally I love them both! I’d really like to know which of them you prefer Let me know in the comments!
Final Thoughts on Tonality Pro
Tonality Pro has a great feature list that would benefit most photographers. There are many black and white conversion tools on the market, but where this software excels is the toning control, glow engine, and blur emulation – features that aren’t available (or nearly as easy to use) in other B&W tools on the market.
Key features include:
- Standalone functionality & plug-in support
- RAW support & hi-quality 16-bit processing
- Over 150 professional one-click presets
- Advanced clarity, structure, and detail controls
- Proprietary Glow Engine
- Powerful lens blur emulation
- Texture overlays with custom texture support
- Realistic grain engine, film emulation & more
- Adaptive exposure & smart contrast
The one drawback to this otherwise stellar software is the lack of edge-aware technology. Many of the other plug-ins I’ve used have a “smart” brush that can detect edges and thus create much cleaner masks with far greater ease. However, though Tonality Pro lacks this feature, its become one of my favorite tools. I just have to be a bit more precise with my brush, and feather the edges and I can still produce a great result.