Printing black and white photos

I was watching an interview of photographer Clyde Butcher in one of The Luminous Landscape video journals that might be of interest to the photographers out there. Butcher, a black and white landscape photographer will spend a day or two burning and dodging an image in Photoshop and make up to 7 prints before he has a master print.

He brings up a good point when discussing his process for making prints from digital files. He says that problem for a lot of people making their own black and whites prints is that they

haven’t been 40 years in the darkroom. They don’t know what a good print looks like. If you don’t know what a good black and white looks like, you can’t do it with ink jet or silver. So it doesn’t matter what the media is if you don’t understand what you’re doing.

So how do you know what a good black and white print looks like? I think the simple answer is to visit a gallery. Find out what an Ansel Adams print looks like, up close. Last year I had a chance to see some of Adams’ photographs when an exhibition of his work came to the AGO in Toronto. The prints were spectacular and much different from the small reproductions in many books of his work.

Another way to see what great black and white photography looks like? Purchase the latest copy of LensWork magazine — some of the best black and white prints in your book store.

Aside from taking a course or a workshop, I think the best way to improve the quality of your black and white prints is to visit a gallery and see what a professional photographer’s work looks like.

Posted in Photography at 10:26 PM