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A Guide to Black and White Photo Printing – Part One

  • 14th December 202021st December 2020
waterfall black and white photo print

A Guide to Black and White Photo Printing – Part One

We hope you find this black and white photo printing guide helpful. It is for anyone looking to create black and white prints of their colour photographs?

We explain some of the processes involved in creating black and white images, that can become fine art prints. We have broken down this blog into three parts. There is a lot of information to consider. So in this first part we discuss what black and white photography is. Also whether you should photograph your image in colour or black and white to begin with. Then we look at comparing the advantages and disadvantages of photographing in RAW or JPEG.

Then we provide you with information on the fine art papers that work best for black and white photo prints. All the information we provide is to help and support you on your photographing and printing journey.

An expert in the field of black and white photography, says it better than us

“I can get—for me—a far greater sense of ‘color’ through a well-planned and executed black-and-white image than I have ever achieved with color photography,” wrote Ansel Adams in 1967

Black and White image compared to Monochrome image

Both of these terms are used to mean black and white, yet they are two different types of images. Monochrome means ‘one colour’, this can be by using a sepia or brown hue, a blue hue or other hue tint of your personal choice. A single colour image is not a black and white. True black and white photos are completely black, grey and white.

It doesn’t matter if you use the wrong term, but it’s good to know.

Should you photograph in black and white or colour

It’s probably wise to leave your options open. So you have an image that can be both colour and black and white. You might change your mind about the image you took, when you get back to check it out, on your software. Also having colour options, when editing in your chosen software, gives you more options of what you can achieve.

If you have any questions then please feel free to Get in touch


Should you photograph in RAW or JPEG

Firstly you need to know what a RAW image file is. It is quite literally what it is called ‘raw’ an unprocessed data file. Therefore a RAW file needs to be post-processed in software before it is ready to be displayed, shared or used for black and white photo printing.

Advantages and Disadvantages of a RAW image file

When post-processing RAW images you will have a larger dynamic range and colour gamut, with better highlights and shadow recovery.

A RAW file is made up of three parts, the RAW data, a full-size JPEG preview and thumbnail and then the header and metadata information. The JPEG preview is the image you see on the camera LCD. The data is used by your software to process the RAW file and for providing information such as exposure settings etc… 

A downside to RAW files is the need for post processing, to convert to a JPEG format. Also RAW files need more storage space compared to JPEGs

Advantages and Disadvantages of a JPEG image file

A JPEG image file has a high compression efficiency and can be displayed on most formats. JPEG images are fully processed in the camera. Therefore most editing if not all has already been done, such as exposure, white balance and colour space. So it’s ready to use. Due to its compression abilities, it takes up less storage space compared to RAW files. Though bear in mind the more times you compress a JPEG file, the more data you lose. With the compression you also lose a certain amount of detail compared to a RAW file.

A JPEG image file overall will have less fine detail in the image and will also limit the size of print you can create compared to a RAW image file.

In Conclusion – RAW file compared to JPEG file

In conclusion it’s probably wise to shoot RAW, because RAW files retain colour information and a better quality image, giving you more options when it comes to black and white photo printing.

Also when you shoot RAW you can enable monochrome on your camera, so the image will appear black and white on your LCD, which will help you see how it will look black and white. The best thing about this, is your image is still actually in colour. So you always have the ability to change your mind and still have a colour image.

Image File Inspection

If you’re unsure if your JPEG image file is good enough or large enough for black and white photo printing, then please use The Artists Print Room’s Image File Inspection we will be able to advise on what size of photo print can be achieved and/or if we need to enlarge the image for you

black and white photo print of loch

Fine art photo papers Canson Platine, Hahnemühle Baryta and below Canson Rag Photographique

Choosing fine art paper for your Black and White Photo Printing

At The Artists Print Room we recommend the following fine art papers for black and white photos :-

  • Canson Rag photographique 310gsm – 100% cotton museum grade white Fine Art and photo paper. It has an exceptional smooth white tone and has one of the highest achievable Dmax currently available on the market.
  • Canson Platine 310gsm – 100% cotton paper provides the aesthetic and feel of the original F-Type Baryta Fibre paper, having a true pure white tone. It has the largest Dmax and tonal range of greys.
  • Hahnemühle Photo Rag® Bright White 310gsm – 100% bright white cotton  The lightly defined felt structure and characteristic soft Photo Rag® feel gives every FineArt print an incredible depth and three-dimensional appearance. The bright white of the paper also creates particularly brilliant results for high contrast images.
  • Hahnemühle Photo Rag® Baryta 315gsm – a pure 100% cotton paper. The natural white paper has a warm shade of white. The barium sulphate in the coating makes Photo Rag® Baryta a popular alternative to analogue baryta paper. It has an elegant sheen, without glare.
We have over 19 genuine fine art papers and canvases to choose from. Created by the World leading fine art paper mills Hahnemühle, Canson Infinity, St. Cuthberts Mill and Ilford.
Please feel free to Get in touch to discuss your options further.


In Part Two of ‘A Guide to Black and White Photo Printing’ we will discuss the components to creating great black and white photo prints.


Did you know that we are the only fine art printing company in the UK which has been accredited by Canson Infinity, Hahnemühle Fine Art, Epson DigigraphieILFORD and the Fine Art Trade Guild? Also, why not sign up to our mailing list to keep up to date with news, products and future competitions at The Artists Print Room – just complete the form below.

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