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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

  • Epson XP-15000 printer reviewEpson XP-15000 printer reviewKeith Cooper's review of the Epson XP-15000 printer for photo printing, The A3+ or 13" width printer uses dye based inks with an extra red and grey ink. The review concentrates on using the printer for high quality photo output rather than it's 'office printer' functionality
  • Canon PRO-200 printer reviewCanon PRO-200 printer reviewDetailed Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-300 printer review. Keith tests the PRO-300 pigment ink printer with a range of glossy and fine-art media, including panoramic prints up to 990mm (~39") long
  • Epson SC-P900 printer reviewEpson SC-P900 printer reviewDetailed review of the Epson SC-P900 17" (A2) pigment ink printer with sheet feed and optional powered roll paper holder. It has 10 inks and no matte/photo black ink switching
  • Epson SC-P700 printer reviewEpson SC-P700 printer reviewDetailed review of the Epson SC-P700 13" (A3+) pigment ink printer with sheet feed and roll paper holder. 10 inks and no matte/photo black ink switching
  • Canon PRO-300 printer reviewCanon PRO-300 printer reviewDetailed Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-300 printer review. Keith tests the PRO-300 pigment ink printer with a range of glossy and fine-art media, including panoramic prints up to 990mm (~39") long
  • PermaJet FB Gold Silk 315 reviewPermaJet FB Gold Silk 315 reviewReview: PermaJet FB Gold Silk 315 glossy baryta paper. The 315gsm Gold Silk paper has been reformulated with a smoother surface finish and improved coatings.
  • Review of DxO Nik Collection 3Review of DxO Nik Collection 3Review of Nik Collection 3 by DxO - The Image editing plugins are updated and expanded to fit more varied workflow choices without losing the original Nik functionality. Demo available.
  • PermaJet FB Pearl 300gsmPermaJet  FB Pearl 300gsmPaper review: Permajet FB Pearl 300gsm lustre/pearl finish photo paper. Fibre based baryta paper for pigment and dye based inks - give a bit more of a 'darkroom' feel to some images

Printing

  • 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.
  • Canon Pixma PRO-100 printer reviewCanon Pixma PRO-100 printer reviewDetailed review of the Canon Pixma PRO-100 printer. A 13" width (A3+ paper size) dye ink based printer for colour and black and white.
  • Museo Silver Rag reviewMuseo Silver Rag reviewLooking at Museo Silver Rag 300gsm semi-gloss cotton rag paper, tested on a Canon iPF8300. Paper supplied under the Canon Oce brand.
  • Museo Max 250 cotton rag paperMuseo Max 250 cotton rag paperTesting Museo Max 250, a cotton OBA free smoothish ('velina') matt art paper on the Canon iPF8300. Includes print set-up details
  • 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
  • Innova FibaPrint Baryta IFA69 paper reviewInnova FibaPrint Baryta IFA69 paper reviewInnova have announced a new 310 gsm paper with a Baryta (Barium Sulphate) layer for its whiteness and weight. It's a good white, and not too warm for more general use.
  • 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

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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