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Digital Black and White

Our specialist black and white digital photography page

Site update: Thanks for everyone's support - work is still very sparse, but at least I've lots of videos, articles and reviews to write - if you've any suggestions or questions, please just let me know - Keith & Karen
...Get our Newsletter for new articles/reviews and why not visit Keith's YouTube Channel
...My book about how to use tilt/shift lenses is now available.

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 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
  • 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.

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

  • 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
  • Epson Stylus Photo R2000 reviewEpson Stylus Photo R2000 reviewEpson Stylus Photo R2000 full review, using the SP R2000 A3+ printer for colour and black and white printing, with custom ICC profiles. 13 inch print width and roll media support
  • Canon Pixma PRO-10/10S printer reviewCanon Pixma PRO-10/10S printer reviewDetailed Canon Pixma PRO-10 printer review, looking at colour and black and white pigment ink based printing a range of paper types up to A3 plus size (13" width)
  • Book Review The Digital Zone System by R FisherBook Review The Digital Zone System by R FisherBook Review: The Digital Zone System: Taking Control from Capture to Print by by Robert Fisher. Applying the zone system to digital photography
  • Review of Nik HDR Efex Pro V2Review of Nik HDR Efex Pro V2Nik HDR Efex Pro 2 review. Software to combine photographs to create high dynamic range images. Part of the Google Nik collection
  • Printer review – Canon Pixma Pro-1Printer review - Canon Pixma Pro-1Detailed review of the Canon Pixma Pro-1, a 12 ink A3+ (13inch) printer for colour and black and white printing. Tested on a range of paper types and sizes.
  • 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

Printing

  • Fotospeed Matt art papers reviewFotospeed 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 1.1i1Studio 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)
  • i1Studio calibration and profiling reviewi1Studio calibration and profiling reviewX-Rite i1Studio calibration and profiling review. Calibrate monitors and projectors. Profile reflection and transmission scanners, and profile papers for colour and black and white printing.
  • Review of the Epson P5000 printerReview of the Epson P5000 printerReview of the Epson Surecolor P5000 printer. 17 inch width A2, with roll support and paper cartridge for sheet media. Looking at print capabilities and colour management
  • Epson SC-P20000 printer reviewEpson SC-P20000 printer reviewReview of the Epson SC-P20000 printer by Keith Cooper. 64 inch width large format printer with new UltraChrome Pro 10-colour ink-set including high density Mk/Pk inks and three grey inks for better Black & White printing
  • 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.
  • 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
  • Paper review Platinum Gloss Art Fibre 300Paper review Platinum Gloss Art Fibre 300Paper review, looking at Platinum Gloss Art Fibre 300gsm paper by Fotospeed. Tested on the Canon PRO-2000 pigment ink printer for 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:

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Site update: Thanks for everyone's support - work is still very sparse, but at least I've lots of videos, articles and reviews to write - if you've any suggestions or questions, please just let me know - Keith & Karen
...Get our Newsletter for new articles/reviews and why not visit Keith's YouTube Channel
...My book about how to use tilt/shift lenses is now available.