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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 around a thousand 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

  • Epson SC-P700 printer reviewEpson SC-P700 printer reviewDetailed review of the Epson SC-P700 13" (A3+) pigment ink printer with sheet feed and roll paper holder. 10 inks and no matte/photo black ink switching
  • Canon PRO-300 printer reviewCanon PRO-300 printer reviewDetailed Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-300 printer review. Keith tests the PRO-300 pigment ink printer with a range of glossy and fine-art media, including panoramic prints up to 990mm (~39") long
  • PermaJet FB Gold Silk 315 reviewPermaJet FB Gold Silk 315 reviewReview: PermaJet FB Gold Silk 315 glossy baryta paper. The 315gsm Gold Silk paper has been reformulated with a smoother surface finish and improved coatings.
  • Review of DxO Nik Collection 3Review of DxO Nik Collection 3Review of Nik Collection 3 by DxO - The Image editing plugins are updated and expanded to fit more varied workflow choices without losing the original Nik functionality. Demo available.
  • PermaJet FB Pearl 300gsmPermaJet  FB Pearl 300gsmPaper review: Permajet FB Pearl 300gsm lustre/pearl finish photo paper. Fibre based baryta paper for pigment and dye based inks - give a bit more of a 'darkroom' feel to some images
  • Permajet Titanium Gloss 300 metallicPermajet Titanium Gloss 300 metallicPaper review: Permajet Titanium Gloss 300gsm metallic gloss finish photo paper. High gloss paper for pigment and dye based inks
  • X-Rite i1Photo Pro 3 plus reviewX-Rite i1Photo Pro 3 plus reviewReview of the X-Rite i1Photo Pro 3 Plus monitor, scanner and printer profiling package using the i1Pro 3 Plus spectrophotometer. Backlit printed materials can now be profiled, and the spectrophotometer has an M3 option for polarised measurements
  • Panoramic printing review using Fotospeed paperPanoramic printing review using Fotospeed paperWide prints and panoramic photo composition. Review of Fotospeed panoramic paper (210mm x 594mm) for wide prints colour and black and white. Some thoughts about making wide prints work.

Printing

  • Which side of the paper to print onWhich side of the paper to print onSome fine art papers look almost the same on each side. How to tell which side to print on if you are unsure
  • Full width printing Epson 3800 and OSX 10.6Full width printing Epson 3800 and OSX 10.6Solving full width (17") printing problems with the Epson SP3800 and Mac OSX 10.6 (Snow Leopard). tested with Epson Traditional Photo Paper
  • Canon Pixma Pro9500 Mk II reviewCanon Pixma Pro9500 Mk II reviewDetailed Canon Pixma Pro9500 Mk II review, using the Canon 9500 II A3+ printer for colour and black and white photo printing.
  • Olmec Photo papers – reviewOlmec Photo papers - reviewA review of several photo and fine art printing papers in the Olmec range, now supplied by Innova. Gloss, satin and matte.
  • Media settings – Printer Test ImagesMedia settings - Printer Test ImagesTest images for optimising media settings when printing. Essential to check before profiling papers to know if too much (or too little) ink is being used for the particular paper chosen
  • Epson Stylus Photo R2880 reviewEpson Stylus Photo R2880 reviewReview of the Epson Stylus Pro 2880 printer. Desktop printer is 13 inch print width and takes A3+ sheets and roll, photo and fine art papers for colour and monochrome printing.
  • Canon iPF6100 reviewCanon iPF6100 reviewFull review of the Canon imagePROGRAF iPF6100 24 inch large format printer. Colour management and profiling for all printing on different media types. Colour and black and white printing.
  • Jane Fonda and Me…Jane Fonda and Me...Jane Fonda and me... digitally printing 35mm photos taken on the set of Barbarella. Turning a scanned negative into a 42" print of Jane Fonda in Barbarella

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:

More of Keith's articles/reviews (Google's picks to match this 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
...Why not sign up for our (ad free) Newsletter to keep informed about new articles and subscribe to my YouTube Channel