Motivation is a photography blog that discusses the creative aspects of photography. The posts will include thoughts about images and their interpretation, photographers and their work, technique, workflow, my ongoing projects, and perhaps even the occasional off topic rant.

Black And White With The Canon ImagePrograf 2000

As I have mentioned in a prior post, I have been very pleased with my new  Canon ImagePrograf 2000 large format printer. I started by using it for color printing and found it to be comparable to my Epson 7900, which is to say that it is able to produce very high quality, vibrant, sharp prints. So I decided it was time to try printing in black and white.

I took this photograph of One Mellon Bank Center in downtown Pittsburgh. I have always liked the lines and shapes of this building's architecture and wanted to relay the feeling of it being something of an impenetrable edifice. Rather than trying to keep the straight lines straight, I purposely tilted the camera as I thought the 'off kilter' look better conveyed the feeling I was after. 


One Mellon Bank Center    © Howard Grill


We're going to get just a little technical here:

The image obviously started out as a color photo which I converted to black and white. I wanted to try using the printer's 'Black and White' only mode, as opposed to sending the image to the printer in an RGB color space using a color icc profile. The reason for this is that using the black and white only mode supposedly produces blacks that are a bit darker than those that are achieved when printing a black and white image in the printer's color mode. At least that is what I have read. 

One issue to deal with when using the black and white printing mode is that it is somewhat of a 'black box', in that there is no ability to soft proof or correct the output using an icc profile (well, read on, there actually is a way) to ensure that there is linearization of the output (meaning that all the levels of black are equally spaced from a tonal standpoint) with the biggest potential problem being compression of the dark levels and loss of shadow detail. Truth be told, the black and white only modes of printers have generally improved quite a bit over the years, to the point where this is often not a problem. However, I recently purchased an X-Rite i1Pro2 spectrophotometer to make color profiles and fortuitously had read an excellent article by Keith Cooper at Northlight Images about making icc profiles for the black and white only mode using the spectrophotometer and Quadtone RIP shareware. These profiles can only be used for neutral, untoned black and white prints. Nonetheless, I really wanted to give it a try!

The only difficulty was that every article I could find on making such profiles (I found Keith's to be the most detailed and helpful) assumed some knowledge beyond the basics of how to use the i1 Profiler software (knowledge I didn't have). With a bit of Keith's help and a lot of experimenting, I did get it all figured out! In fact, I am thinking of writing a 'how to' post so that anyone else that is considering doing this but is a bit short on profiling experience can easily accomplish it.

So how did it all turn out in the print? I do have to say that the image printed using the profile I made did match the soft proof image to a closer degree than those made in the black and white only mode without the profile or by printing in the color mode using a color icc profile. It also had more tonal separation in the shadows. Not by a tremendous amount, but definitely visible. I made the print on Ilford's Gold Fiber Silk paper which has a slightly warm tone to it. I like the way it looks quite a bit.

Black and white turns out very well indeed using the Canon IPG 2000.