Photo Paper for Black and White and Sepia Prints

black-and-white

Some black and white or sepia prints can have a very dramatic effect compared to a colour photograph.  Printing a photo without colour can change the focal point of an image, give it a timeless or historic feeling, and emphasise the contrast in the image.

Black and white or sepia images are often used in portraiture. As professional photographer Ted Grant once said — “When you photograph people in colour, you photograph their clothes. But when you photograph people in Black and white, you photograph their souls!”

In addition to portraits, fine art, street photography, photojournalism and landscapes can look fantastic when printed as black and white or sepia images.

This post will share some useful tips for using black and white or sepia prints, and explain how to achieve the best results!

When to Use Black & White or Sepia for Your Prints

I’s important to recognise when you should use black and white or sepia to obtain a better image. Consider using removing colour from an image when is has one of the following qualities:

  • The image has high levels of contrast
    Images that have a high level of contrast usually look fantastic when they are printed in black and white or sepia. The blacks look deeper and the highlights look sharper, giving an image much more impact.
  • The image has a lot of texture, lines or fine detail
    Images that focus on texture and fine detail can benefit from being printed as black and white. By removing the colour from the image, you allow the viewer to really focus on the detail of the photo including the texture of the subject. This is why closeup portraits look fantastic when converted to black and white or sepia.
  • You want the image to have a timeless feel
    Black & white sepia prints have an antique feel about them. If you want a subject matter to feel historic and significant, try removing the colour. Try using black and white on photos taken at a weddings, birthdays and anniversaries.
  • Landscape photos with clouds and texture
    Photographers typically use colour for their landscape photographs, to emphasise a beautiful sunset, a blue sky or the lush greenery in an image. However, certain landscapes can look beautiful when printed as black and white or sepia. Try black and white on any landscape image that contains stormy weather — the contrast between the storm clouds and the texture of the terrain can create a stunning print.
  • The image has colours that don’t look good
    You may have taken a photo which you love, but the colour content is distracting viewers from the intended focal point of the image. Perhaps the people in the image are wearing loud colourful clothing, which is distracting viewers from the expressions on their faces. Try using black and white to improve the content and “message” of the photograph.
  • The print has artistic content
    Artistic content and any image with very strong subject can benefit from using black and white or sepia.
  • The photograph has dramatic content
    A black and white print can add impact and drama to an image. If you really want to make an impression on the viewer, try removing colour from an image.

How to Create Black & White or Sepia Prints

There are a number of techniques for creating black and white or sepia photographs with modern digital cameras and software.

The simplest way to make your photos black and white or sepia is to change settings on your digital camera. Most digital cameras have a black & white mode and a sepia mode available; simply select it before taking the photo. The second simple way of doing it is on your printer driver which can be set to print on black & white or sepia mode.

Alternatively, you can use photo editing software to transform your colour images to black and white. There are a number of ways to do this including:

  • Using the Channel Mixer
    Most photo editing suites will have a channel mixer that shows the levels of red, blue and green in your image. In Photoshop, open the channel mixer, check the monochrome option and move the sliders to fine tune the tonal range of your image.
  • Using a black and white adjustment layer
    Most software packages will have an option to turn an image into black and white. In Photoshop CS, that is called the Black and White adjustment layer. This tool is also very useful for creating sepia toned images.
  • Using the gradient map
    The gradient map allows you to quickly remove colour from an image.

Important — If you are using Photoshop or a similar image editing program, you should avoid using the desaturate feature and the greyscale feature.

These options not only remove the colour from the image, but also discard the colour data! That means all areas of the image which have the same brightness or level of contrast will be rendered the same shade of grey. There end result is a washed out and flat looking black and white image with less shades of grey.

The Best Photo Paper for Black & White or Sepia

Photo Paper Direct stock a number of premium photo papers which are perfect for black and white or sepia prints. Our PPD premium 280g Pearl photo paper, PPD Fine Art 300g Baryta photo paper or Radiant Photo Rag Paper 270g all render black and white or sepia images beautifully. These high quality photo papers are great value-for-money and offer a range of advantages over standard photo paper including:

Premium 280g Pearl

  • A lustrous soft finish that is ideal for framing
  • Micro/Nano porous coating with outstanding sub tone reproduction
  • Water resistant coating
  • Polyethylene Coating on both sides for great longevity
  • Works well with any inkjet printer with dye or pigment-based inks
  • Incredible value-for-money compared to other printer-branded photo papers
  • Prints both black & white and sepia photographs perfectly

PPD Baryta Paper 300g

A soft satin low glare finish

  • Micro/Nano porous coating with outstanding sub tone reproduction
  • Provide a feel of a retro photo paper based on a card paper for a perfect retro look
  • Works well with any inkjet printer with dye or pigment-based inks
  • Prints both black & white and sepia photographs perfectly
  • Extreme high longevity with pigment inks due to acid free paper
  • A thick substance feel

PPD Radiant Photo Rag Paper 270g

  • A smooth matt finish
  • Based on 100% rag/Cotton fibers with a very artistic look to it
  • For amazing looking portraits, wedding artistic photos, family photos etc.
  • Soft feel paper
  • Extreme high longevity with pigment inks due to acid free paper.
  • The most artistic look a black & white or sepia can look
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