Friday, December 13, 2013

The Black & White Print

Making a great black-and-white print starts with a good subject and composition, spot-on exposure and skillful postprocessing, but it doesn't stop there.
By Wes Pitts Published in Printing
The Black & White Print
Ilford papers were legendary in the wet darkroom, and they now offer an extensive line of inkjet papers. Their GALERIE Prestige Gold Mono Silk is specifically created for black-and-white printing, with an emphasis on smooth tonal transitions and a finish that emulates the look of traditional darkroom prints.

Moab Slickrock Metallic gives black-and-white images an almost 3D look with its exceptionally reflective, metal-like surface. Another popular paper from Moab is their classic Entrada Rag, a smooth cotton fine-art paper available in both Bright and Natural fibers. A sample box is available with two sheets each of 15 paper types, including Slickrock Metallic and Entrada Rag.

Red River Paper also offers a sample pack, the Photographer's Choice Sampler, which includes two sheets each of 18 different paper types, from glossy to matte to pearl metallic. You can add on to this with the Specialty Sample, for an additional five types of paper, including the popular San Gabriel SemiGloss Fiber Baryta.


In the chemicaL darkroom, to save money on expensive papers, we'd cut a few sheets into thin strips and use them to expose and develop a section of an image to fine-tune our exposure time for that image without wasting an entire sheet—or several sheets! You can do something similar in the digital darkroom by making a test print.

1) Start with your image already adjusted to your liking (brightness, sharpness, etc.).
2) Divide the image into equal zones that contain similar tones and details. You can do this by creating multiple layers, or simply use rulers and guides.
3) Make exposure adjustments to each zone for comparison in the test print. For this example, we've adjusted the brightness of each zone: -150, -75, 0, +75 and +150.
4) Make your test print and see which zone is producing the best tonality. You might repeat this process, starting with your new base exposure and making smaller adjustments to each zone until you nail it.

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