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Digital Black and White

Our specialist black and white digital photography page



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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.

Videos

  • Video: Why prints come out wrong and what to doVideo: Why prints come out wrong and what to doKeith looks at the top reasons photo prints don't come out right, along with the steps needed to fix your print problems. Based on years of sorting out print problems for photographers (22m 30s)
  • Video: Where are the high quality A4 photo printersVideo: Where are the high quality A4 photo printersWhy you don't get high quality photo and fine art printers at A4 or Letter size. What features do you get with larger printers apart from the ability to make larger sizes photo prints (6m 30s)
  • Video: What printer marketing doesn’t tell youVideo: What printer marketing doesn't tell youWhat printer marketing doesn't say. Keith Cooper looks how much better prints you will get from a new printer and why it probably won't be significantly different from the last model (13m 20s)
  • Video: From landscape to printVideo: From landscape to printKeith looks a the whole process of making a black & white landscape print, from stopping to admire the view, taking some photos, editing and processing them through to paper choices & printing (32m 16s)
  • Video: Are third party inks worth it?Video: Are third party inks worth it?Keith Cooper looks at ink choices for inkjet printers and asks if third party or 'compatible' inks are really worth trying, or are they a false economy if print quality and consistency matters? (7m 30s)

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Articles

  • 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
  • Using Silver Efex Pro for colour printsUsing Silver Efex Pro for colour printsUsing software to create monochrome images that are blended with colour images using luminosity blending to give more punch to dull photos
  • Reducing halos with Silver Efex Pro 2Reducing halos with Silver Efex Pro 2Ways of using colour to black and white conversion software such as Nik Silver Efex Pro that do not produce unwanted halo effects around objects. Ensuring that trees don't make the sky lighter for example
  • Making a black and white photographMaking a black and white photographThe whole process of making a large black and white photograph, right from stopping to take the photo, through to final fine-art printmaking.
  • Producing better photographsProducing better photographsWhy you probably don't need to rush out and spend money to improve your photography - it about thinking more, and taking more photos. New cameras and lenses are nice but not as essential as you might think
  • Re-using the zone system?Re-using the zone system?With its origins in the exposure and development of film, do aspects of the zone system still work in today's digital black and white photography?
  • Industrial photography in a foundryIndustrial photography in a foundryPreparation and subsequent image processing required when taking photographs in a working foundry. Also looks at how final size affect image editing

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 DxO FilmPack plugin V2Review of DxO FilmPack plugin V2Review of the FilmPack plugin and app (version 2) from DxO. Processes images to emulate the look (grain, tonality, colour) of a wide range of film types
  • 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
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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
  • 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.

Printing

  • 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.
  • Why are my prints too dark?Why are my prints too dark?Why are my prints too dark? Why monitor brightness matters when it comes to printing your photos. Some of the common problems and their solutions
  • Better black and white profiling with the ColorMunkiBetter black and white profiling with the ColorMunkiUsing the Colormunki to create QuadToneRIP (QTR) linearising icc profiles for black and white printmaking. Smoother gradations and unblocked shadows
  • 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
  • Printing Black and White digital photographyPrinting Black and White digital photographyPrinting Black and White digital photography, is the second part of an interview with Keith Cooper about all aspects of digital monochrome photography
  • 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.
  • 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

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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