Most everyday photographers only print in monochrome (black and white) when they copy old photographs – usually as a result of scanning negatives or prints. So we’ll begin this chapter by looking at scanning options.


Most everyday photographers only print in monochrome (black and white) when they copy old photographs – usually as a result of scanning negatives or prints. So we’ll begin this chapter by looking at scanning options.

Modern digital scanners provide high performance levels and many include built-in software for removing dust and scratch marks from scratched negatives as well as colour adjustment and grain management functions. When choosing a scanner for digitising old photographs, consider the size of the prints you wish to make as copies of the original picture. As mentioned in Preparing to Print, the ideal resolution for prints between snapshot size and A4 is 300 dots/inch. As a snapshot print measures 6 x 4 inches, to obtain the required output resolution you would need a scanner with a resolution of 6 x 300 = 1800 dots/inch. (Always use the longer side of the picture as the basis for calculating the required resolution.)

If you are working with negatives, the calculation is the same – although the original size is different. For a 35mm negative, the necessary resolution is 14.17 inches x 300 dots = 4252 dots/inch – which means you need a higher-resolution scanner. These calculations apply, regardless of the type of scanner you use.


A dedicated scanner usually provides higher resolution and is preferable if you have lots of negatives or slides to scan.


The scanners included in the latest multi-function printers are fast and easy to use for print scanning and copying.

Monochrome Prints from Digital Photographs
Most of the latest digital cameras include a monochrome – or black and white (B&W) -shooting mode that may offer several colour options. The most popular addition is sepia (a yellowish brown) but some also include other colour options.


An example of the monochrome options offered in a digital camera, showing the standard B&W and sepia settings plus a ‘cyanotype’ setting that produced blue-toned images.

For the past couple of years, photo enthusiasts have been able to make top-quality, B&W prints with their desktop inkjet printers, thanks to new ink sets that include two or three levels of grey (or ‘light black’) ink. These new ink sets – and special fine art papers – allow anyone to produce prints with better quality and greater colour and tonal stability than was formerly achieved through chemical means.

However, as with traditional photography, good results can only be obtained with effort and understanding. You need the right shot, effective editing, the right printer and the right media for printing your photograph.

B&W Conversion
There are many ways to convert colour images to B&W. Photographers with raw files should start by selecting a low-contrast conversion setting (if available) to ensure the maximum tonal range is maintained. This will provide more flexibility for subsequent editing and printing. It may also be useful to adjust exposure compensation to bring up highlight detail at this stage as well.

We recommend working with 16-bit TIFF images if your editing software supports this format (most of the more powerful editors will) because they contain the maximum amount of image data you can extract from a raw file. Otherwise use the highest JPEG quality setting and be careful with the adjustments you make. (JPEG files are, by default, 8-bit files.) Aim to recover as much highlight and shadow detail as you can before proceeding to B&W conversion.

If you’re working with JPEGs, the easiest monochrome conversion facility is provided via Google’s Picasa. Simply double click on an image in the Library browser and select “Effects” from the options provided. You can choose from 12 different monochrome effects and even combine effects for more options. If you don’t like the end result, clicking on the Undo button below the Effects pane steps backwards through the effects you have applied.


Another B&W conversion strategy is to select Image>Mode>Grayscale from the menu bar in the editing application you’re using. This will discard all colour information but tends to produce rather flat images that require subsequent adjustment. You will be asked whether to discard the colour information. Clicking on Discard converts the image to B&W.


This method tends to produce rather flat results and provides no facilities for adjusting tones within the image.

More tonal control is provided by working with layers. The examples shown below have been prepared with Adobe’s Photoshop Elements, one of the most popular editing programs.

Step 1: Open the image then click on Layer>New Adjustment Layer> Hue/Saturation. This layer is automatically named Hue/Saturation #1. When the dialog box opens, make sure the Preview box is checked and click OK. Repeat the process to create a second Hue/Saturation adjustment layer, named Layer#2.


Check the Layer dialog box (circled in red) to ensure you have two additional layers to work with.

Step 2: Double-click on the slider in the Layer #1 dialog box icon in the Layers panel and move the saturation slider back to -100 to remove all colour from the image.


Step 3: Then double-click on the Layer #2 dialog box icon, click on the Edit dropdown menu and select one of the colour channels, adjusting the Hue, Saturation and Lightness sliders. Moving the hue slider to the left replicates the effect of a light red filter, darkening the blue tones of the sky. Shifting it to right replicates the effect of a blue filter.

You can also make selective adjustments to each colour channel with the Hue, Saturation and Lightness sliders. These adjustments can be repeated in Hue/Saturation Layer #1 to intensify the brightness or darkness of individual colours, allowing you to create a B&W image with a more natural-looking tonal range and greater tonal depth than a straight grayscale conversion.


Step 4: When you’re satisfied with the result, click OK and select Layer>Flatten Image to save the picture as a B&W image.


The latest version of Photoshop has a special monochrome conversion facility. Click on Layer>New Adjustment Layer and select Black & White from the drop-down menu. Click on OK in the dialog box that appears.


This opens the Channels palette and selects the Black & White 1 Mask. Your image should change to black and white.

Move up to the Adjustments palette and select the type of monochrome conversion you require from the drop-down menu. The image on the desktop will change with each selection so you can experiment to see which filter provides the desired result.


If you check the Tint box above the colour sliders, you can add a tint to the monochrome image, converting it to sepia, blue – or any other colour.


Further tonal adjustments can be made by changing the position of individual colour sliders.


When you have achieved the result you want, flatten the image by selecting Layer>Flatten image and save it as a separate file.

Think B&W; Shoot Colour
Regardless of whether you wish to print in colour or monochrome, the more image data you have to start with, the more you can use for printing. This means shooting with the highest available resolution and quality, using raw format where it’s available and shooting in colour, even though you want to end up with a B&W print.

To get the very best results, when composing shots you should shoot with the same strategies as you used when shooting with B&W film: think in black and white and pre-visualise the subject as a series of tones.

Why shoot in colour? The monochrome shooting modes (B&W and/or sepia) in most cameras discard the colour information when the file is saved. This means image information is lost – and cannot be recovered. Not only does this reduce the amount of image data you have to work with, it also prevents you from accessing separate colour channels in image files. This prevents you from using some of the strategies outlined below, which produce much more dynamic prints than a simple greyscale conversion.

Many of the latest DSLRs save extractable colour channel data in raw image files when shots are taken in B&W mode. However, they are never saved when you shoot monochrome images as JPEGs. Consequently, monochrome modes are best avoided unless you need a ‘quick and dirty’ conversion for an application where quality doesn’t count.

If you’re not sure where to position your exposure, underexpose – especially if you’re shooting JPEGs. Set the exposure compensation at -0.3 stops as a starting point but be prepared to go past one stop if conditions demand. This will reduce the risk of clipping highlights and should allow you to ‘pull in’ highlight detail without losing information in the midtones and shadow areas.

Printers for B&W Printing
Some inkjet printers are easier to use for B&W printing than others. For example, printers that use three dedicated black inks (often designated ‘black’ ‘light black’ and ‘light light black’) can span the entire monochrome tonal range. Until these new printers arrived, photographers who made B&W prints with six-ink printers often found they were unable to remove a colour cast (which could be green, red or blue) from their pictures.

The diagram below shows why this cast occurs. The top bands show how the yellow, magenta, cyan and black inks are used to print different densities in the image, ranging from deep blacks on the left to the lightest tones on the right. Note how the lightest tones rely entirely on the coloured inks for creating the pale greys in the image.


Changing to a seven-ink printer improves this situation by adding a light black ink to take the place of the black ink in the mid grey tones. However, the lightest greys are still reliant on the coloured inks.

In the latest printers that use eight inks, two intermediate grey inks are added to cover all tones of grey from slightly below mid grey to almost white. This reduces the reliance on the coloured inks (which are still used to add depth and intensity to the tones). This ink set effectively eliminates colour casts due to the ink set, allowing photographers to produce B&W prints with true colour neutrality.


Specially-designed printer drivers are required for fine-tuning the image and printers with several ‘light black’ (or grey) inks make it easier to obtain top-quality monochrome prints. They also allow photographers to introduce Colour Toning effects.

The Advanced B&W driver that works with all Epson printers that use the new UltraChrome K3 ink set gives users four Colour Toning options: neutral, cool, warm and sepia and allows them to adjust the tone across five levels from light (the hardest) to darkest (the softest). Slide bars provide further adjustments for brightness, contrast, shadow and highlight tonality and optical density (sharp or soft focus) and users can check the Highlight Point Shift box to add a little more ink to white areas to add a glossy look. But the most subtle adjustment can be made by moving the white cross about in the colour circle. In all cases, the adjustments will be reflected in the sample image shown beside the reference original in the dialog box


The illustration shows the Epson Advanced B&W driver, which enables users to make subtle changes to the colour, brightness, contrast and shadow tonality in B&W prints.
The following websites provide additional information on the topics covered in this chapter. and for useful general information on inkjet printing. for an article on how to make monochrome prints with a basic inkjet printer.



For all your printer needs visit Exceed your vision.