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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

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

  • 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
  • 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
  • Review: DxO Nik Collection 2Review: DxO Nik Collection 2Nik Collection 2 image editing plugins - Updated Nik plugin collection from DxO with improved compatibility for modern apps. Links to Keith's detailed reviews and discussion of new functionality
  • 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
  • Fotospeed Legacy Gloss 325 paper reviewFotospeed 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.
  • Fotospeed Platinum Baryta 300 paper reviewFotospeed Platinum Baryta 300 paper reviewFotospeed Platinum Baryta 300 paper review. Smooth unglazed gloss surface 300gsm natural white paper. Making large exhibition quality prints

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
  • Impressora pro photo media reviewImpressora pro photo media reviewReview of six different papers from the Impressora range of photo media, from Canvas to cotton rag paper to glossy metallic finish. All tested on the Canon PRO-2000 printer
  • Canon smooth fine art paper reviewCanon smooth fine art paper reviewCanon paper review: Premium Fine Art Smooth (PremFAS) smooth finish matte art paper. Neutral white, OBA free and archival. 310gsm weight
  • 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
  • Innova Fabriano Art papers reviewInnova Fabriano Art papers reviewPaper review: Two new Innova mould made heavy matte fine art rag based papers from the Fabriano paper mill. IFA-107 and IFA-108. OBA free archival papers
  • 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.

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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