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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

  • HP DesignJet Z3200 reviewHP 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 reviewNik 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 reviewEpson 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
  • Innova Fibaprint Super-Glazed and Semi-Glazed paper reviewInnova Fibaprint Super-Glazed and Semi-Glazed paper reviewTests and review of two fine art papers from Innova, Fibaprint Super-Glazed and Semi-Glazed IFA-58 and IFA-59, tested on an Epson 4880. Note : no longer available
  • Epson Stylus Pro 4880 reviewEpson Stylus Pro 4880 reviewReview of the Epson Stylus Pro 4880 17" A2+ Printer. Large desktop printer tested with a range of sheet and roll paper and fine-art and photo media types
  • Epson Stylus Pro 3800 reviewEpson Stylus Pro 3800 reviewReview of the Epson Stylus Pro 3800 printer. Desktop printer is 17 inch print width and takes A2 sheets, photo and fine art papers.
  • Power Retouch Black White Studio 1.3 pro reviewPower Retouch Black White Studio 1.3 pro reviewPower Retouch Black White Studio 1.3 pro photoshop plugin for converting colour images to black and white using film simulations and filtering
  • Paper review Permajet Fibre Base GlossPaper review Permajet Fibre Base GlossTesting Permajet Fibre Base Gloss, a 'Darkroom feel' gloss or semi-gloss lightly textured paper. Tested on an Epson SP2400

Printing

  • Black and white test image for use with i1iSisBlack 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
  • 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
  • Fine tuning black and white photo printingFine 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.
  • Black and white linearisation with the i1Pro 3Black and white linearisation with the i1Pro 3Updated linearisation for black and white printing with the X-Rite i1Pro3 spectrophotometer. Using the free chart measurement features of i1Profiler. Includes files and data for incorporating test strips into printer test images
  • 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.
  • 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
  • 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

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.