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Decades ago, printing in black and white was the only option we had. When colour began to take over our televisions and printers, we were able to embrace a whole new world of potential that was bigger, brighter and more colourful.

However, in true fashion, things have a way of coming back around again. What was popular years ago may have been regarded as tacky or old-fashioned, but soon enough those flared jeans would be back with a vengeance. The same thing goes for black and white photography.

Coming back in popularity, black and white photography has a way of gripping our attention and bringing focus to more than just bright colours. Black and white images force us to look at the objects and stories that a photographer is trying to tell, and, in some cases, more is less.

If you’re thinking about printing out some photos without colour, you’ll likely need a few tips to make your projects look their very best. The following is a beginner’s guide to printing photos in black and white, which offers helpful tips for creating the perfect picture. 

Black and White Turbo Fan Airplane Engine

Black and White Turbo Fan Airplane Engine

Post Processing:

Getting your photos to look their best in black and white isn’t just about flipping the filter to grayscale and adding some lighting. Depending on the photo, there will be lots of things to fine-tune before you’ll be happy with the result.

As a beginner, it’s a great idea to install some sort of photo editing program, like Adobe Lightroom. This program combines a number of features from different programs, including Photoshop, so that you can tailor your photos to your unique preferences.

Post-processing gives you a chance to tackle a wide array of edits you may (and may not) see at first glance with your photos – we’re talking about contrast and brightness, levels, blur, and grain levels – the list goes on.

Noise: 

The emergence of digital photography has been a huge help when it comes to shooting in low-light; however, there are still some aspects, such as noise, that need to be addressed.

When there is too much “noise” in a photograph, it often means that the camera cannot handle the amount (or lack thereof) of lighting in the room. In dark photos, it is common that the photo will end up looking distorted or blurry, commonly having a grainy look.

Noise can also become apparent when you switch coloured photos to black and white ones, or when you try to digitally lighten photos. While a bit of a grainy aspect can make a photo look vintage or monochrome, keep in mind how much light you need for your image and try to take black and white photos when you have ample light to play with.

Sharpening: 

Before printing your black and white photos, send them into your Photoshop application and check out the sharpness of the photo. Colours are usually the easiest way to clarify what is what in an image, but that becomes harder when you’re only playing with shades of black and white.

To highlight different features of the photo, it is suggested that you use a sharpening tool to make details more distinct. Professional photographers will also suggest that you sharpen specific areas, as opposed to sharpening the entire photo.

Watch below to find out how to sharpen specific areas within photoshop:
Changing Colours: 

If you’re altering a colour photo to black and white, you may be able to achieve the look you want by manipulating the colours beforehand. This might mean playing with the hue, saturation and lighting until you get a colour balance that looks better when it’s changed to grayscale.

By increasing the drama with light balance and increasing the depth of grey tones, you can achieve deep black and white images that have more or less contrast.

Paper: 

Not only will editing make a big difference to your black and white photos, but so will your choice of paper texture. Aside from your original photo and any additional editing you do, your choice of paper will have the biggest impact on the way your black and white image appears.

When it comes to printing with black ink, the term “D-max” refers to the deepest black a piece of paper and a quality ink cartridge can create together. Your level of D-max will change based on the texture of the paper, so you’ll want to do some research before you buy a package of printing paper for your photos.

Generally, a semi-gloss paper is capable of creating deeper black tones than a matte paper, since the matte paper tends to soak up some of the shade. It is also helpful to know that heavier, thicker pieces of paper are better for displaying, and acid-free paper options are better if you’re looking for long-lasting images that won’t fade over time.

Ink: 

No matter how much work you do to your photos to create the perfect image, you’ll never be able to recreate that when printing if you don’t use quality ink.

For inkjet printers, it is common for artists to use pigmented inks since these are designed to be longer-lasting and able to stand up to the sun and other factors. What many people also don’t know is that printers come with a certain number of chambers for their ink.

Most affordable printers offer the four basic printer colours including magenta, yellow, cyan and black. Higher budget printers will often hold anywhere from 6-12 ink pots, but the best printers for black and white will have at least three monochrome ink pots for black and white shades.

Mountains in Black & White | Mountain Photography by Jack Brauer - Teton Moonlight

Mountains in Black & White | Mountain Photography by Jack Brauer – Teton Moonlight

When you’re happy with your black and white photos and you want to put them up on your wall, be sure to use these tips first! Taking editing and printing into consideration is very important to ensure that your photos are clear, bright, and highlight all of the best features.

Consider the benefits of colour and grayscale printing, and don’t be afraid to experiment with both to get the look you desire.

Whether you are a photographer just starting out or perhaps you’re an individual who has been shooting images for a while now, be sure to visit our website to get the best accessories to compliment your camera.

Have you experimented much with black and white photography?

Author Bio: Tania Longeau serves as the Head of Services for InkjetSuperstore.com  Tania oversees a team of Operations and Customer Service Reps from the Los Angeles headquarters. Before joining Inkjet Superstore Tania was a team leader and supervisor working for one of the biggest mortgage and real estate companies in the country. She is a happily married mother of one who enjoys spending time with her family and reading in her leisure hours.

Anya Beuzeval

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