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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 completely dried up in these challenging times, so I'll be 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.


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 paper reviews Keith Cooper's paper reviewsKeith's photo paper reviews - collected data from all the papers for printing photos that we've tested over the years. Helpful if you can't get them where you live. Matt, satin, lustre and glossy. Regularly updated for new papers tested
  • Digital black and white photography Digital black and white photographyExploring black and white photography and image editing. Methods of converting colour to B&W. How to get the monochrome image you want from a colour photo.
  • Choosing the best paper for your photo prints Choosing the best paper for your photo printsWhat photo paper is best for printing your photos? What paper is best to use with your printer? Why when choosing a paper for your prints needs, you need to start with the basics
  • SpyderPrint black and white print refinement SpyderPrint black and white print refinementBlack and white printer test image for use with the Datacolor SpyderPrint spectrocolorimeter. Check linearity and black and white print performance with Photoshop & Affinity Photo
  • What goes into a print What goes into a printWhat goes into a photo print - getting more from your prints. Looking at printers, image preparation and just what makes a print worth going on your wall. Why are you making prints and who are they for?
  • Black and white test image for use with i1iSis Black and white test image for use with i1iSisBlack and white test image and 51 step (2%) greyscale step wedge for use with X-Rite i1iSis scanning spectrophotometer. Includes target files and downloadable test image
  • Fine tuning black and white photo printing Fine tuning black and white photo printingFine tuning black and white photo printing with a flatbed scanner when using using monochrome print settings such as Epson ABW or Canon Black and White photo print modes. Test for optimal media settings. Print linearisation with curves.
  • Using effects lens filters Using effects lens filtersAfter being given some assorted lens filters dating back to film days, Keith wonders if they are still of any use with modern digital cameras and how B&W film 'emulation' has its limits.

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 Stylus Pro 3880 review Epson 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
  • Canon Pixma Pro9500 Mk II review Canon 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 – review Olmec Photo papers - reviewA review of several photo and fine art printing papers in the Olmec range, now supplied by Innova. Gloss, satin and matte.
  • Epson Stylus Photo R2880 review Epson 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 review Canon 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.
  • HP DesignJet Z3200 review HP DesignJet Z3200 reviewDetailed review of the HP DesignJet Z3200. Testing the Z3200ps 24 inch large format printer with fine art and photo media, including profiling and colour management, for colour and black and white printing.
  • Nik Silver Efex Pro review Nik Silver Efex Pro reviewReview of the Nik Silver Efex Pro image ending plugin. Converts colour images to black and white, emulating films and other effects. Tested with Photoshop
  • Epson Stylus Pro 7880 printer review Epson Stylus Pro 7880 printer reviewReview of the Epson Stylus Pro 7880 printer. Large format printer is 24 inch print width and takes roll paper and sheet media, photo and fine art papers. Inc. 7880/9880 error codes

Printing

  • Fotospeed Legacy Gloss 325 paper review Fotospeed 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.
  • Printing low megapixel images at large size Printing 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 review Fotospeed 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 work Better 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 review Fotospeed 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 review Canon 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 review Fotospeed 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 1.1 i1Studio 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)

News

  • Epson SureColor SC-P5000 STD Printer announced Epson 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 printmaking Keith 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 announced New 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 completely dried up in these challenging times, so I'll be 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.