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A Guide to Black and White Photo Printing – Part Three

  • 5th January 2021
black and white photo print of large wave

A Guide to Black and White Photo Printing – Part Three

So far in our Black and white photo printing guide, we’ve discussed in part one, should you photograph in black and white or colour, RAW files and JPEGs and fine art photo papers. 

See ‘A Guide to Black and White Photo Printing’ Part One for more information.

Then in part two we discussed all the components you need to consider when photographing your subject matter. We also talked about the importance of hue, saturation and luminosity and their impact on the image you choose to photograph.

See ‘A Guide to Black and White Photo Printing’ Part Two for more information.

Final Part of our Guide to Black and White Photo Printing

In this last part three of the guide we offer advice about calibrating your monitor and various software available for calibration and editing of your photo images. We also discuss some of the options for editing your image and finally we talk about choosing your subject matter for black and white photography.

Editing your black and white image

Firstly is your screen calibrated and have you remembered to turn down the brightness of your screen. For more information on screen calibration and ICC profiles, please see our blog ‘Why Professional Photo Printing improves your Photography’. It has information about calibration software options.

There are various apps and software available for editing your images from colour to black and white. The most popular ones are Lightroom, Photoshop, Affinity Photo and Capture One. The Nik Silver Efex Pro is also very popular and is available as a plugin for Photoshop and Lightroom. 

To begin, most software allows you to turn your image into black and white. If you choose this option, you don’t actually lose any of the colour. This means you can still make adjustments to the individual colours hue and saturation, giving fine adjustments. There are some apps that actually remove all the colour and don’t allow you to return the image to colour afterwards. So check the software, the ones we mentioned earlier are the most reliable.

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

Being methodical when editing

We talked about the components that make up your image in part two of this guide. These components also apply to your editing software. You can play around with various adjustments to the components, such as the hue and saturation of individual colours. Eventhough you have turned your image into black and white, you can still adjust the various colours individually. It is a good idea to create a system, where you follow the same procedure for each image. So if you start with exposure first, always start with exposure.

By starting with a methodical process, such as making overall changes to the image first, with exposure, shadows, highlights and darks. You’ll start to see how global adjustments affect your image. You will see how these adjustments can change the mood of your image. Also you’ll be able to assess where subtle adjustments need to be. Such as using radial or graduation filters or masks, to make changes to small areas. Perhaps to highlight the blossom on a tree or perhaps to create a darker branch across a white flowing waterfall.


Adjustments and Noise Reduction

You can make various adjustments to your image with the editing software, but you must bear in mind, that the more extreme adjustments you make to the components we mentioned earlier, (in part Two), the more you increase noise in your image. Black and white images are not very forgiving to noise, you can easily see this in the sky of a landscape image. The sky will appear grainy, rather than smooth. So you may have to make noise reduction adjustments too. Though there is a limit to what can be done. It is better to choose the right setting for your camera, when taking the photograph, than hope to reduce noise when editing.

By using graduated and radial filters and tints, you’ll learn the editing software better and learn to refine your editing techniques. Though it’s good to try them out, don’t get carried away, you could lose your original intention and be lost in lots of tiny adjustments. Over time you’ll create an editing workflow that suits your style of photography.

Choosing your subject matter
black and white photo print of evening lights reflected in waterLandscape Photography

You don’t have to go far to find an interesting view, but the time of day you photograph can impact a black and white image. Midday can have little defining contrast between light and shadows, so your images can look flat. Remember you don’t have colour to lift them. Soft light can work, but you’ll be focussing more on how the light moves through a scene and the texture in the landscape.

Portrait Photography

With portrait photography you can create the light you need. Consider which areas you want to highlight and let the light sculpture the shapes you want to create, such as the gesture and texture of the hands.

Street Photography 

Street photography is very popular in black and white, probably because it can lead you to a particular look or situation within the scene, without the distraction of colour.  With a street scene you generally aren’t able to have any control over the scene before you, so you have to focus on what particularly interests you and what you want to say about the scene. You may have certain people in focus, while moving bicycles and cars are more out of focus. Also do you want to capture people as they look at the camera, or with a far off look. 

Printing your Black and White photo

When you have invested so much time and effort into capturing a wonderful black and white image, then spent time editing it, why wouldn’t you have a wonderful fine art photo print of the image. It is only by printing your image you truly get to see what you have achieved. Of course when it comes to the printing stage, the choice of fine art print paper you choose, will have an impact on your image too.

Print Proofs / Test Print Service

With our fine art photo printing services we are able to offer you print proofs (test prints) of your images. So you can try out more than one fine art photo paper, to see which you feel suits your image best. It is surprising the results you can see. Where some papers can bring out the subtle details in the shadows, to photo papers that highlight the white areas more. Thus creating a stronger contrast to your image. A Print Proof is a cross section at 100% of the digital file, rather than a small print of the whole artwork. This means you get to see all the details and colours at your chosen image size.


At The Artists Print Room, we have a large choice of fine art papers and canvasses to choose from. In part one of this Guide we discussed the fine art papers we recommend for black and white photos. 

We’re specialists in fine art photography printing and are the only UK fine art printing company to be accredited by World renowned Canson Infinity, Hahnemuhle, Epson Digigraphie and Ilford. We believe in offering great support and advice when it comes to fine art printing of your photographs.

So please feel free to Get in touch

In Conclusion

Overall we have tried to cover all aspects of black and white photography. By breaking down how you view a potential image into components, you should be able to assess more easily what will create a stunning black and white photo print. Printing your photo is the final stage and using a fine art photo printer to turn your image into a beautiful piece of art makes sense.

Photographing in black and white is not an easy option when it comes to photography, but with patience and practice you may come to love it, maybe even just as much as Ansel Adams.

“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

Just remember to focus on the light and shadows, and all the other components we’ve mentioned to make a great composition, that engages your audience.

If you have any questions about black and white photo printing, then please feel free to Get in touch


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