Master B&W Printing

This Article Features Photo Zoom

Making a great black-and-white print starts with successful exposure and processing, but it doesn’t end there. There’s art and science in crafting a stunning print, and to get the best results, you’ll need to do some trial and error with every image.

The quality of your black-and-white prints will be greatly enhanced if you’re working with a printer, inks and papers that are optimized for black-and-white printing. That doesn’t mean you have to buy a new printer right away, but if you’re planning to do a lot of monochrome prints, you’ll benefit from choosing a printer that features an inkset with an expanded black and neutral range—both Canon and Epson offer models with multiple black and gray ink shades.

Digging into your printer’s driver settings may yield some big advantages, especially if your printer offers specialized black-and-white modes. The Epson Stylus Pro 3880’s driver, shown here, has multiple settings to deliver superior black-and-white prints. 1. For example, selecting a matte paper media type automatically selects Matte Black ink. We’ve also selected the Advanced B&W Photo mode to take full advantage of the printer’s expanded inkset. 2. Here we’ve chosen a luster paper, which switches the ink system to Photo Black. You also can see the options available in the Color Toning menu. 3. The Advanced Color Settings tab gives you several adjustments for even finer control over the end print.

The paper you choose is also important. Whether you prefer glossy or matte is somewhat a question of personal taste, but we’re inclined to choose matte or pearl surfaces over glossy to minimize surface reflections that can distract from the subtle tonal gradations inherent in a well-printed black-and-white image.

Also important is the whiteness of the paper. Paper whiteness is rated on a scale to 100; the higher the number, the whiter the paper. Unless you’re going for an aged, vintage look, we recommend choosing a paper with a rating in the high 90s for clean, bright highlights.

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