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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

  • 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

  • Epson SureColor P7000 printer reviewEpson SureColor P7000 printer reviewDetailed review of the Epson SureColor SC-P7000 24" width large format printer. Using the P7000 for fine art and photo printing with the LLk ink option. Review applies to the larger 44" SC-P9000 as well.
  • Canon iPF8300 review and notesCanon iPF8300 review and notesOngoing Canon iPF8300 review and notes about using the imagePROGRAF iPF8300 44 inch large format printer, by Keith Cooper. Notes date back to setting up the printer in November 2010
  • Review – Aurora HDRReview - Aurora HDRMacphun Aurora HDR. Software plugin and standalone app for building high dynamic range (HDR) images from one or more photos
  • Epson SureColor SC-P800 printer reviewEpson SureColor SC-P800 printer reviewDetailed review of the Epson SureColor P800 printer. A2 sheet paper (17" width) and roll paper support. Tested with a variety of paper types, colour and B&W
  • Review update – Tonality Pro v1.2Review update - Tonality Pro v1.2Review update - Tonality Pro 1.2 Improved functionality and performance for MacPhun's specialist image editing plugin and app for B&W photography
  • Epson SureColor P600 printer reviewEpson SureColor P600 printer reviewDetailed Epson SureColor P600 review. The SC-P600 is an A3 plus (13" width) pigment ink printer tested with different papers for colour and black & white. It supports borderless printing, roll paper and CD/DVD printing
  • Epson V850 film scanner reviewEpson V850 film scanner reviewReview of the Epson Perfection V850 flatbed scanner. 6400dpi scanning for transparencies, 4800 dpi for photographs. Film and slide holders included
  • Canon Pixma PRO-100 printer reviewCanon Pixma PRO-100 printer reviewDetailed review of the Canon Pixma PRO-100 printer. A 13" width (A3+ paper size) dye ink based printer for colour and black and white.

Printing

  • Epson Stylus Pro 3880 reviewEpson Stylus Pro 3880 reviewReview of the Epson Stylus Pro 3880 printer. Desktop printer is 17 inch print width and takes A2 sheets, photo and fine art papers. Colour and black and white 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.

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)


See all of Keith's 1000+ articles and reviews

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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