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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

  • Keith Cooper’s City Light Luminar presetsKeith Cooper's City Light Luminar presetsKeith's 'City Light' presets for MacPhun's Luminar photo editing software. Developed for architectural images when converting from colour to B&W. Before and after examples, and how they differ from 'straight' B&W conversions. Also using them as a luminance adjustment for colour images.
  • Moving back to film photographyMoving back to film photographyReturning to film? Rediscovering old film equipment offers a simpler more direct world of photography. Is it time for Keith to buy some camera batteries and rolls of film?
  • The art of the big photographic landscape printThe art of the big photographic landscape printWhat makes for a great looking large 'fine art' print? What differences do you need to consider when deciding to make larger prints (A2 and above). Larger prints are that work are far more than just more megapixels, sharper lenses and big printers.
  • X-Rite i1iO and a B&W test imageX-Rite i1iO and a B&W test imageThe X-Rite i1iO table and i1Pro2 spectrophotometer are used with a modified version of Keith's black and white test print (8 & 16 bit versions downloadable). Quick and easy check for monochrome print linearity includes chart averaging.
  • Keith Cooper’s City Light Tonality PresetsKeith Cooper's City Light Tonality PresetsKeith's 'City Light' presets for the MacPhun Tonality Pro plugin. Developed for architectural images when converting from colour to B&W. Before and after examples, and how they differ from 'straight' B&W conversions. Also using them as a luminance adjustment for colour images.
  • Multiple Scans of Black and White film comparedMultiple Scans of Black and White film comparedAfter reviewing the Epson Perfection V850 film scanner, Keith Cooper looks at the same piece of film scanned in several different scanners, including drum scanning
  • Print setup for a new fine art paperPrint setup for a new fine art paperSetup and profiling an unknown new paper for colour and Black & White printing. Looking at the whole process including media settings and types, and creating icc printer profiles.
  • Test image for black and white printingTest image for black and white printingTest image for testing performance and quality of black and white (monochrome) printing. Article explains functionality of parts of the image

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

  • Museo Silver Rag reviewMuseo Silver Rag reviewLooking at Museo Silver Rag 300gsm semi-gloss cotton rag paper, tested on a Canon iPF8300. Paper supplied under the Canon Oce brand.
  • Museo Max 250 cotton rag paperMuseo Max 250 cotton rag paperTesting Museo Max 250, a cotton OBA free smoothish ('velina') matt art paper on the Canon iPF8300. Includes print set-up details
  • Review of Tonality ProReview of Tonality Pro Review of Tonality Pro Software from Macphun to create black and white images from colour photographs. Plugin Version 1. Apple Mac software
  • Review of Intensify ProReview of Intensify ProReview of the MacPhun image editing plugin, Intensify Pro. Also available as standalone app. Edit with layers in Lightroom, tested with Photoshop.
  • Review of DxO FilmPack V4.5Review of DxO FilmPack V4.5DxO FilmPack Version 4.5 review. Accurate simulation of the look (grain colour and tonality) of a wide collection of film makes and types
  • Innova FibaPrint Baryta IFA69 paper reviewInnova FibaPrint Baryta IFA69 paper reviewInnova have announced a new 310 gsm paper with a Baryta (Barium Sulphate) layer for its whiteness and weight. It's a good white, and not too warm for more general use.
  • Review of Topaz BW Effects 2 pluginReview of Topaz BW Effects 2 pluginBW Effects, review of Topaz Labs image editing plugin for converting colour photographs to black and white. Control over tonality and film emulation
  • Canon iPF6400 – 6450 printer reviewCanon iPF6400 - 6450 printer reviewDetailed review of the imagePROGRAF iPF6450 (ipF6400) 24 inch large format printer. Colour management and print setup for colour and black and white

Printing

  • 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?
  • Paper review: Innova Cold Press Rough Textured Natural WhitePaper review: Innova Cold Press Rough Textured Natural WhiteFine art Paper review of Innova Cold Press Rough Textured Natural White (IFA-13) tested on an Canon iPF8300
  • Printing greyscale images and removing unwanted colour tintsPrinting greyscale images and removing unwanted colour tintsAddressing problems with black and white printing. Some subtle changes in print colour casts with lighting changes, and removing colour tints from monochrome prints.
  • Paper review Innova Decor papersPaper review Innova Decor papersPaper review of Innova heavy matte textured double sided Decor papers IFA-24 and IFA-25, tested using the Canon iPF8300.
  • Black and white photo printingBlack and white photo printingKeith Cooper is interviewed about his approach to printing his black and white photography. Extended version with additional notes and information from a printed magazine article.
  • BowHaus True Black and White reviewBowHaus True Black and White reviewBowHaus True Black and White review. Black and white specialist printing software for Canon iPF large format printers. Offers full ink control and linearisation.
  • Canon iPF6300 reviewCanon iPF6300 reviewCanon iPF6300 review, testing the imagePROGRAF iPF6300 24 inch large format printer, for colour and black and white fine art 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: 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.