There are many ways to produce your black and white digital files. The two most popular methods are;
- Scanning black and white film or prints
- Converting color digital files
Our assumption is that our customers will be well versed in these methods as there is a wealth of information on the subject and much more than we could do justice to here, however we would recommend reading David Präkel's "Black and White" ISBN 2884791051, this book covers a range of techniques and concepts both analogue and digital and is a great starting point.
The main purpose of this tutorial is therefore to get the best results from our digital upload and printing service and you will find some useful recommendations below;
We can supply a test print if you wish to check your monitor matches the output from our printer. An independent test file can be downloaded here (Link provided with the kind permission of Keith Cooper). We can print this same file, please send us an email if you require a calibration set-up print, including your name and shipping address.;
ILFORD Lab Direct recommend using a profiled monitor for preparing and viewing your black and white images. With a profiled set-up, we still recommend using a test print to fine tune your workflow. It is vital that what you see on your screen will closely match our output.
What if I don't have profiling equipment ?
Since we are only considering black and white files, it is still possible to achive an excellent result even without expensive profiling equipment. Black and white is all about tonal range and contrast. By dialing in your monitor to match out test print and following some basic guidelines you will get great looking prints;
- Turn down the brightness and contrast levels (particularly on LCD monitors)
- Prepare your images on screen in a room with subtle lightling rather than bright light.
- Use a test print to assess on screen tonal range, contrast and black density.
We don't correct images in any way so it is important your images are optimised ready for printing. Modern LCD monitors are very high contrast and often make shadow arears apear blacker than they actually are. It is important to check your files feature a full range of tones and that blacks really are 100% K despite how they appear on the screen. If your blacks are only 90% K your prints will look flat.
Depending on the subject matter prints will also benefit from a degree of sharpening, particularly smaller format prints.
In order to reduce upload times it is a good idea to optimise the image sizes prior to upload. Our upload service allows you to print different sizes and quantities from the same file so you only need to upload each image once.
We print at 300dpi at the output size, so e.g. a 5”x7” image needs to be no bigger than 1500 x 2100 pixels (about 3 megapixel). Where possible, you should use JPEG format to upload your files. A 5”x7” image saved using high quality compression will be around 500kb. If you have lots of files to resize you can set up a batch process in Adobe Photoshop and other imaging software that will resize and save all your files automatically.
Our preferred file format is GREYSCALE JPEG. However we can also accept RGB in both JPEG or TIFF format. Photoshop will normally default to the Grey Gamma 2.2 colourspace when working in Greyscale, which is fine for our service.
You can upload files from any location on your PC or network.
As most people tend to print a single size we have designed the site to make it easy to select a single size across several files. If you wish to print different sizes from your album you simply return to select more. In this way it is possible to select many different size, surface and style combinations.
Printing Direct From Color Files
It is possible for us to print direct from colour files without any conversion, although this is NOT recommended as images are unlikelly to be as well optimised as those properley converted to black and white first. Therefore if you choose to upload colour files we cannot guarantee the quality of the images produced.