Thursday, January 25, 2007
A Classic Method Goes Digital
Easy ways to achieve beautiful digital black-and-white prints
Making The Print
Standard Color Printers And Toning. Printing a pure black-and-white photo from a standard color inkjet printer can be difficult, as there most likely will be a color cast to your image. You still can create a pleasing print, however, and also use the color to your advantage. If you're in Grayscale mode, change your file to RGB; this gives you access to color channels so you can tone your image and take advantage of a classic technique.
To achieve a color tone, try using Color Balance or Hue/Saturation on an Adjustment layer. Play around with the RGB sliders in Color Balance (focus mainly on the cyan/red, yellow/blue sliders) to create a cool selenium or warm sepia tone. In Hue/Saturation, click the Colorize box and play with the sliders for more effects. Additionally, your printer driver may have a feature that allows you to control the color output to achieve the same effect.
New Color Printers With Black-And-White Capabilities. Color photo printers are being manufactured with the black-and-white print in mind. Some are capable of rendering truer black-and-whites very well. Both the Epson Stylus Photo R2400 and Hewlett-Packard Photosmart 8750 printers incorporate light and dark gray cartridges, or photo blacks, to increase the quality of black-and-white prints from color printers. I've seen work from both of these units and they produce true black-and-white images.
Black-And-White Inks. To achieve true blacks and consistent tones from print to print, you also can dedicate a specific printer for this task and use black-and-white-specific inks.
A relatively inexpensive way to set up a dedicated black-and-white printer is by buying a low-cost unit, such as the Epson Stylus Photo R200, which is now on the market for less than $100. You also can check online for a good refurbished unit from a reliable source. Another idea is to convert an old printer that you thought might be headed for the trash and clean out any old color ink that may be clogging the heads. If you aren't secure in cleaning it yourself, check out a mom-and-pop service in your area. InkjetMall, Lumijet, Lyson and Media Street all offer inksets with different-colored black and gray cartridges that are designed to work with a variety of different printers.
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