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Digital Black and White

Our specialist black and white digital photography page

Site Notice: Like many working photographers, our work has diminished greatly in these challenging times, so I'm at home a lot. The silver lining is that I've lots of articles and reviews to write - if you've any suggestions or questions, please do let me know - Keith
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We’ve lots of articles on this site covering black and white digital photography and other monochrome issues.

If you are just starting out with digital black and white, then this particular article may be of interest. It’s a 2020 version of the original I wrote in 2004.

The basics of Black & White digital photography

This page is the reference point for all our digital black and white photography related articles and reviews.

It covers all aspects from taking photos for black and white use, processing and editing them (converting colour to b&w) and producing black and white prints.

Articles listed here are those with significant sections dealing with aspects of black and white photography. There are also some of my older Black and White Photos in the Gallery

Why Black and White

Black and white photography still inspires me.

I’m reminded of this quote from someone who’s original work, and ability to explore new techniques I admire:

“I eagerly await new concepts and processes. I believe that the electronic image will be the next major advance. Such systems will have their own inherent and inescapable structural characteristics, and the artist and functional practitioner will again strive to comprehend and control them.”

– Ansel Adams
forward to his book “the Negative”, published January, 1980

Black and White Photography

specialist monochrome test image for print

The image to the right is a special black and white printer test image.

Keith Cooper has created it to test the quality of black and white printing.

This is the current version of our standard black and white printer test image, first published in 2005.

The test image incorporates a number of features designed to make it useful in testing and then improving monochrome print output.

Many features are also directly copied from the old version so as to maintain compatibility with existing test prints.

It’s quite a harsh test, but covers most areas where printers have difficulties, such as shadow detail, colour casts, and linearity.

All the various parts are explained and an A4 300ppi sized version is freely available for download. There are versions with a 51 and 21 step greyscale ramp available for creating QTR ‘correction’ profiles. There are also numerous articles that include its use.

Black and White photography articles on this site

The articles and reviews are grouped into different categories. You can look through all the articles via the categories selection at there right, or use the search box.

Articles

  • Using Silver Efex Pro for colour printsUsing Silver Efex Pro for colour printsUsing software to create monochrome images that are blended with colour images using luminosity blending to give more punch to dull photos
  • Reducing halos with Silver Efex Pro 2Reducing halos with Silver Efex Pro 2Ways of using colour to black and white conversion software such as Nik Silver Efex Pro that do not produce unwanted halo effects around objects. Ensuring that trees don't make the sky lighter for example
  • Making a black and white photographMaking a black and white photographThe whole process of making a large black and white photograph, right from stopping to take the photo, through to final fine-art printmaking.
  • Producing better photographsProducing better photographsWhy you probably don't need to rush out and spend money to improve your photography - it about thinking more, and taking more photos. New cameras and lenses are nice but not as essential as you might think
  • Re-using the zone system?Re-using the zone system?With its origins in the exposure and development of film, do aspects of the zone system still work in today's digital black and white photography?
  • Industrial photography in a foundryIndustrial photography in a foundryPreparation and subsequent image processing required when taking photographs in a working foundry. Also looks at how final size affect image editing
  • Black and white print linearisation with the i1Pro 2Black and white print linearisation with the i1Pro 2Using the X-Rite i1Pro 2 spectrophotometer to measure black and white test print targets to create linearising curves and profile with the QTR software package
  • Black and white print linearisation with i1Profiler and QTRBlack and white print linearisation with i1Profiler and QTRBlack and white print linearisation using QTR icc profiles created with X-Rite i1Profiler software and the i1Pro spectrophotometer

There are over 1100 free articles and reviews on the site - thanks to everyone who helps support it.
We appreciate any purchases you make through our partners such as B&H which help us sustain the site.

Reviews

  • Review of the Epson P5000 printerReview of the Epson P5000 printerReview of the Epson Surecolor P5000 printer. 17 inch width A2, with roll support and paper cartridge for sheet media. Looking at print capabilities and colour management
  • Epson SC-P20000 printer reviewEpson SC-P20000 printer reviewReview of the Epson SC-P20000 printer by Keith Cooper. 64 inch width large format printer with new UltraChrome Pro 10-colour ink-set including high density Mk/Pk inks and three grey inks for better Black & White printing
  • Paper review Platinum Gloss Art Fibre 300Paper review Platinum Gloss Art Fibre 300Paper review, looking at Platinum Gloss Art Fibre 300gsm paper by Fotospeed. Tested on the Canon PRO-2000 pigment ink printer for colour and black and white printing
  • Impressora pro photo media reviewImpressora pro photo media reviewReview of six different papers from the Impressora range of photo media, from Canvas to cotton rag paper to glossy metallic finish. All tested on the Canon PRO-2000 printer
  • Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-2000 printer reviewCanon imagePROGRAF PRO-2000 printer reviewDetailed review of the Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-2000 24" pigment ink printer. 11 inks and a gloss optimiser coat. Dual roll feed option. Roll and sheet media tested, including a print over 7m long.
  • Mirage print software review (V3.5)Mirage print software review (V3.5)A review of the Mirage print software by Dinax. Tested with the Canon PRO-2000 printer, the software now supports Canon and Epson large format printers. One feature is its freedom from print length limitations, ideal for huge pano prints at photo print resolutions.
  • Epson Expression Photo XP-960 printer reviewEpson Expression Photo XP-960 printer reviewReview of the Epson Expression Photo XP-960 printer. All-in-one printer/scanner/copier that supports double sided printing and photo prints up to A3 size (11"x17"). Dual paper tray
  • Canon PRO-1000 printer reviewCanon PRO-1000 printer reviewDetailed review of the Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-1000 17" pigment ink printer. 11 inks and a colour optimiser coat. Tested for colour and B&W printing on a range of media types. Paper sixes up to A2, with borderless print options.

Printing

  • Printing low megapixel images at large sizePrinting low megapixel images at large sizePrinting low megapixel images at large size, looking at resizing and image editing techniques that let you make larger prints than you thought possible. Getting good prints at A2 and 17" x 25" sizes
  • Fotospeed Platinum Baryta 300 paper reviewFotospeed Platinum Baryta 300 paper reviewFotospeed Platinum Baryta 300 paper review. Smooth unglazed gloss surface 300gsm natural white paper. Making large exhibition quality prints
  • Better photography by printing your workBetter photography by printing your workBetter Photography from prints. Printing your photos is a useful skill to work on. 5 steps towards getting great prints that will help you improve all of your photography
  • Fotospeed Metallic Lustre paper reviewFotospeed Metallic Lustre paper reviewFotospeed Metallic Lustre 275 gsm paper review. A microporous coated paper with a metallic lustre surface finish, for dye and pigment inks. A4 sheet to 44" roll sizes available
  • Canon imagePROGRAF TX-3000 reviewCanon imagePROGRAF TX-3000 reviewTesting the Canon TX-3000 36" width printer. Keith Cooper reviews the Canon TX wide format printer and plotter for photo and graphics printing. Also covers the 24" TX-2000 printer and 44" TX-4000
  • Fotospeed Matt art papers reviewFotospeed Matt art papers reviewFotospeed Platinum Cotton 305 and Cotton Etching 305 matt art papers review. Cotton acid free fine art paper. Natural white smooth and Etching finish bright white
  • i1Studio update 1.1i1Studio update 1.1X-rite update i1Studio to version 1.1. Includes ability to save measurements from multiple charts when creating printer icc profiles (V2 and V4 supported)
  • i1Studio calibration and profiling reviewi1Studio calibration and profiling reviewX-Rite i1Studio calibration and profiling review. Calibrate monitors and projectors. Profile reflection and transmission scanners, and profile papers for colour and black and white printing.

News

  • Epson SureColor SC-P5000 STD Printer announcedEpson SureColor SC-P5000 STD Printer announcedLatest information about the new SureColor P5000 17" large format printer from Epson. The replacement for the SP4900 A2 sized desktop printer.
  • Keith Cooper’s talks about printmakingKeith Cooper's talks about printmakingKeith Cooper talks about making large prints at The Photography Show 2017 - Getting great looking big prints from your work. From camera to print, the complete workflow
  • New Canon papers announcedNew Canon papers announcedCanon USA announce three new Premium Fine Art papers — Premium Fine Art Smooth, Premium Fine Art Bright White and Premium Polished Rag. Designed to produce, rich-color reproduction, and detailed expression of gradation. Keith has a roll of the Fine Art Smooth for an upcoming paper review

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More print related information

For information about other printers, paper reviews and profiling (colour management) see the Printing section of the main Articles and Reviews page, or use the search box at the top of any page. There are also specific index pages for any articles connected with the following topics:

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Site Notice: Like many working photographers, our work has diminished greatly in these challenging times, so I'm at home a lot. The silver lining is that I've lots of articles and reviews to write - if you've any suggestions or questions, please do let me know - Keith
...Why not sign up for our (ad free) Newsletter to keep informed about new articles and subscribe to my YouTube Channel