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Digital Black and White

Our specialist black and white digital photography page

Site Notice: Thanks to everyone who has offered support - we're starting to see some work again, but I'm still at home a lot. At least I've lots of videos, articles and reviews to write - if you've any suggestions or questions, please do let me know - Keith & Karen
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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

  • Black and white from ColourBlack and white from ColourLarge collection of methods and techniques for converting colour images to black and white. Photoshop techniques and references to specialist plugins
  • Is your printer OK for black and white photography?Is your printer OK for black and white photography?Choosing a good printer for black and white photography is nowhere as easy as it is for colour. Keith looks over some of the options, including getting better black and white out of your existing printer.
  • Using Nik Silver Efex Pro 2 for dull colour imagesUsing Nik Silver Efex Pro 2 for dull colour imagesContrast boosting by using Nik Silver Efex Pro 2 for dull colour images. Using software designed for producing black and white images to adjust image luminosity
  • What paper should I use?What paper should I use?With a massive range of different papers available, how should you go about seeing which papers work best for your photos. Some of the choices you can consider when looking at paper types and brands for printing your photographs
  • 3×3 quick tips for improving your black and white photography3x3 quick tips for improving your black and white photographyA collection of quick tips that can help improve the quality of your black and white photography. Simple steps to better monochrome pictures
  • Sea of stepsSea of stepsA chance to see how a modern ultra wide shift lens performs on a familiar view of Wells Cathedral. Sea of steps - photography inspired by the work of FH Evans in 1903
  • A personal health warning about paper reviewsA personal health warning about paper reviewsWhy you should be wary of paper reviews. Reviews for specialist inkjet photo printing papers may contain lots of measurement data, but paper choice is about so much more than that. There are so many other aspects of your photographic workflow that need looking at too.
  • Do your prints have depth?Do your prints have depth?What is 'Depth'? How do you describe your photo prints? Or, more to the point, how do I actually know what you mean and how can I be sure?

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

  • 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.
  • SpyderX Studio reviewSpyderX Studio reviewReview of the Spyder X Studio kit from Datacolor. Includes the Spyder X Elite monitor calibrator, SpyderCube white balance and exposure tool and SpyderPrint printer profiling kit for creating ICC printer profiles
  • Review: DxO Nik Collection 2Review: DxO Nik Collection 2Nik Collection 2 image editing plugins - Updated Nik plugin collection from DxO with improved compatibility for modern apps. Links to Keith's detailed reviews and discussion of new functionality
  • Fotospeed Fotospeed Smooth Cotton 300 paper reviewFotospeed Fotospeed Smooth Cotton 300 paper reviewFotospeed Smooth cotton 300 paper review. Smooth matte surface surface, Cotton based 300gsm white paper. Takes a good ink load and for a matte paper gives solid colour and B&W tonality
  • Fotospeed Legacy Gloss 325 paper reviewFotospeed Legacy Gloss 325 paper reviewFotospeed Legacy Gloss 325 paper review. Smooth unglazed gloss surface, Cotton based 325gsm natural warm white paper. OBA free. Making large exhibition quality prints.
  • 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
  • Nik plugins by DxO – review info.Nik plugins by DxO - review info.Looking at the Nik image editing plugins - The updated version of the Nik plugin collection is launched by DxO with improved compatibility for modern apps. Links to all of Keith's detailed reviews of the plugins
  • 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

Printing

  • 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
  • X-Rite i1Photo Pro 2 reviewX-Rite i1Photo Pro 2 reviewReview of the X-Rite i1Photo Pro 2. Printer profiling as part of the 'i1Photo' package, including OBA compensation
  • Is your printer OK for black and white photography?Is your printer OK for black and white photography?Choosing a good printer for black and white photography is nowhere as easy as it is for colour. Keith looks over some of the options, including getting better black and white out of your existing printer.
  • What paper should I use?What paper should I use?With a massive range of different papers available, how should you go about seeing which papers work best for your photos. Some of the choices you can consider when looking at paper types and brands for printing your photographs
  • Canon iPF5100 printer reviewCanon iPF5100 printer reviewDetailed review testing the Canon imagePROGRAF iPF5100 17 inch width large format printer. Sheet and roll paper, looking at colour and black and white pigment ink based printing a range of paper types.
  • Epson Stylus Pro SP4900 reviewEpson Stylus Pro SP4900 reviewReview of the Stylus Pro SP4900 11 colour 17 inch (A2) printer from Epson. Setup and printing. Includes fitting and use of the optional Spectroproofer unit.
  • Epson Stylus Photo R3000 reviewEpson Stylus Photo R3000 reviewDetailed Epson Stylus Photo R3000 review. Using the SP R3000 A3+ printer for colour and black and white photo printing
  • Book Review B&W printing by George DeWolfeBook Review B&W printing by George DeWolfeKeith Cooper reviews B&W printing by George DeWolfe - part of the Digital masters series. A 'guide to producing exhibition quality black and white prints'

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)


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Site Notice: Thanks to everyone who has offered support - we're starting to see some work again, but I'm still at home a lot. At least I've lots of videos, articles and reviews to write - if you've any suggestions or questions, please do let me know - Keith & Karen
...Sign up for our (ad free) Newsletter to hear about new articles and subscribe to my YouTube Channel
...My book about how to use tilt/shift lenses is now available for pre-order.