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Black & White Printing With The Epson ABW Driver

by Ian Barber


Black & White Printing With The Epson ABW Driver

by Ian Barber

Table OF Contents Introduction!

3

Preparing The Edited File!

4

Monitor Calibration!

6

Colour Space Workflow!

7

Printing with ICC Profiles!

10

Epson ABW Driver!

12

ABW Driver Dialog Box!

13

ABW Specific Options!

16

Colour Toning With The ABW Driver!

19

Toning Images With Other Software!

20

Issues With Toning Images & ABW!

22

Black and White Neutrality!

23

Conclusion!

24

Links and Resources!

25


Black & White Printing With The Epson ABW Driver

by Ian Barber

Introduction The majority of my photography work has been in Black and White for sometime now and although one would think it would be an easy format to work in, I personally believe that it is more difficult than colour especially when it comes to digital printing. With the new modern Ink jet printers that are currently available, it has become possible to produce high quality Black and White prints from the comfort of your own home providing you have a basic understanding on what you are doing. This document is based around the Epson Advanced Black and White Driver also referred to as the ABW driver and has been put together in such a way to try to remove the headache caused by all the technical jargon found amongst other documents on the internet. Having said that, we will skim the surface of some technical areas as it is a good idea to get to know where we are coming from and in which direction we are heading. The two main printers I currently own are the Epson R2880 and the Epson R3880 but the ABW mode may also be found in other models. Why the need for an eBook? “From the moment of pressing the camera shutter button to watching the final digital Black and White masterpiece emerge from the printer is what I believe completes the circuit of making photographs.” With this modern digital age we live in, it has become so easy to get lost in sharing photographs across the internet and with the use of mobile devices. As a photographer, I always believe that the capture is in “service” of the print. To me, holding that print in your hand and feeling the quality of the paper can really take your breath away which is something you just cannot experience from seeing it on a digital device. My aim is to provide you with enough knowledge to understand the process in getting your edited file out to the printer and onto paper in the easiest possible way.

Ian Barber


Black & White Printing With The Epson ABW Driver

by Ian Barber

Preparing The Edited File This eBook is not designed to show you how to edit files but I want to quickly go over some important areas. A bad edit will not produce a good print. It doesn’t matter what you do, if your image has been edited in a bad way, the printer will not produce a good print. As of writing this eBook, there is no “magical” button you can press on the printer that will render a bad edit into a good print. Editing for Black and White. A good black and white print will always stand on its own if it has any of the following. • Good Rich Blacks • Good Tonal Range • Smooth Gradation of Tones What do we mean by a Smooth Gradation of Tones If we look carefully at the image of the first step wedge below, compared to the second step wedge, we can see that as we move from the deepest blacks on the left through to white on the right, we can see that the transition from one tone to the next is not smooth. This is sometimes referred to as “Banding”

Poor gradation of tones.

Good gradation of tones.

If you are unable to see any differences in the two images, then I would suspect that you are viewing this on an uncalibrated monitor which if that is the case, you really should consider rectifying that before you go any further. Blocked Shadows and Blown Highlights. Blocked shadows and blown / overexposed highlights is something that you should always try to avoid and be looking out for as you are editing your images. The exception to this rule is of course if you are aiming for High or Low key images that do not contain any information in these areas.


Black & White Printing With The Epson ABW Driver

by Ian Barber

Having both blocked shadows (RGB 0,0,0) and blown highlights (RGB 255,255,255) means that no information are present in those pixels and therefore no detail will be printed. The blacks will be printed as Black and the Whites will be the Paper white in which you are printing the image onto. A typical histogram of an overexposed image looks like the one below. Notice how it is stacked up against the right hand side wall. An image with blocked shadows is the opposite, the histogram will be stacked up against the left had side wall.

Always try to control your exposure at the point of capture as this will give you the cleanest file to work with in the digital darkroom. Before doing the Black and White conversion, I would always advise anyone to make sure that the colour file is as good as you can get it, this also includes removing any sensor dust spots.


Black & White Printing With The Epson ABW Driver

by Ian Barber

Monitor Calibration Monitor calibration is an area that many people often ignore and yet it is one of the most important areas when it comes to producing good prints. The new monitors today are what they call LED back lit which means that out of the box with the factory default settings, they are very bright. For photo editing and printing, they are too bright which will lead to your images looking too dark when they are printed. Also, Images on screen look different from the same image in print. You've probably noticed this when the bright red on screen prints out as bright pink or that lovely photo of an aquamarine sea looks more like green grass. That's because monitors use light (RGB) and the printed page uses ink (CMYK, typically) which is seen differently by the human eye. Calibrating your monitor provides a screen display that attempts to simulate what you would see on paper. Wrong way to calibrate your monitor I have seen people simply adjust both the brightness and contrast controls on their monitor and say, “I now have a calibrated monitor.� Whilst this method may be sufficient for basic Web viewing and non-critical printing, it is not ideal for photo editing and printing. Serious design work and accurate color-matching calls for software or hardware calibration methods. Monitor calibration is simply one part of a complete Colour Management System. Correct way to calibrate your monitor The correct way to calibrate the monitor is by using a hardware calibration device such as the X-Rite ColorMunki. There are many choices when it comes to buying monitor calibration devices, some better than others. If you are really serious about your photography then the X-Rite ColorMunki will do a very good job. It can also calibrate overhead projectors and your printer which is something worth considering since we are discussing printing here in this eBook. Hardware calibration devices are placed over the monitor and through their own software, display different colours on the screen and the device then measures these patches which it will then use the results to build up what is know as a monitor profile. Also part of the calibration process is to reduce the overall brightness of the screen.


Black & White Printing With The Epson ABW Driver

by Ian Barber

Colour Space Workflow

Continuity With any digital workflow, it is important to make sure that you have continuity in your workflow, especially continuity between your monitor, printer, paper and ink. In Digital Photography editing, we usually have the choice of one of three colour spaces • SRGB • Adobe 1998 • ProPhoto RGB SRGB - This colour space is the smallest and is ideal for when we want to work with images that are going to displayed on the internet as the majority of monitors work in the SRGB Colour Space Adobe 1998 - The Adobe RGB colour space is an RGB color space developed by Adobe Systems in 1998. It was designed to encompass most of the colors achievable on CMYK colour printers. The Adobe RGB colour space encompasses roughly 50% of the visible colours specified by the Lab color space, improving upon the gamut of the sRGB colour space primarily in cyan-greens. ProPhoto RGB - The ProPhoto RGB colour space offers an especially large gamut designed for use with photographic output in mind. The ProPhoto RGB colour space is even larger than the Wide Gamut RGB colour space. Choosing the correct colour space is important and to keep continuity in your digital workflow I would suggest that you do not chop and change. You are probably asking yourself at this stage, out of the three colour spaces which one should I use for my digital workflow and what are the differences between them.


Black & White Printing With The Epson ABW Driver

by Ian Barber

The diagram below shows all three colour spaces. The easiest way to understand this is to image three containers, each filled with different quantities of liquid.

If we was to set our camera to SRGB, you can see that we are capturing less colours than we would do if we had set the camera to Adobe 1998. Imaging pouring the contents of Adobe 1998 into SRGB, you would end up loosing some of the liquid because the SRGB container is smaller than Adobe 1998. The same applies when we are setting our working colour space in Photoshop. For example if we have set our camera to use the Adobe 1998 Colour Space but we have set the working colour space of Photoshop to SRGB, we are throwing away information when we bring the image into photoshop. For those that work in Adobe Lightroom, this application uses the new ProPhoto Colour Space by default, so if you are editing your images in Lightroom and then decide that you need to hand them over to Photoshop and have the Colour Space in Photoshop set to Adobe 1998, again you are going to throw away information because the ProPhoto Colour Space is larger than Adobe 1998.


Black & White Printing With The Epson ABW Driver

by Ian Barber

Unless you have any reason not to, I would suggest that you set your default work space for your digital workflow to ProPhoto as this is the largest colour space available and gives us a little more elbow room to work with. To set your working colour space in Photoshop, from the Edit Menu, choose Color Settings and you will be presented with a dialog box that looks similar to the one below.

Set the first option in “Working Spaces� to ProPhoto RGB


Black & White Printing With The Epson ABW Driver

by Ian Barber

Printing with ICC Profiles Although this eBook is about the Epson ABW driver, I wanted to touch on ICC profiles because it is possible to produce black and white prints from the colour driver. ICC Profiles are simply look-up tables that describe the properties of a colour space. They define the most saturated colours available in a colour space; i.e. the bluest blue or deepest black your printer can produce. If you don't have a profile, the trio of Red, Green, and Blue values (or CMYK) that make up a color have no particular meaning, you can say something is blue, but not exactly which shade of blue. Accurate profiles are the key to a colour-managed workflow. With accurate monitor and printer profiles, your prints will closely match what you see on your monitor. Printing Black and White with colour ICC Profiles. It is possible to create a black and white print by using colour icc profiles. In Photoshop for example, select “Photoshop Manages Colours” and select your ICC profile from the print dialog box.

This will then tell the printer to use all the coloured inks to produce a black and white image. When using this method, it is important to ensure that you have disabled any colour profiling in the printer driver otherwise you will “double profile” and the results will look awful.


Black & White Printing With The Epson ABW Driver

by Ian Barber

Using the method described above when used with the correct icc profile will produce reasonable to good results but could introduce a colour cast to the image which is mainly caused by the cyan or magenta inks. The correct icc profiles for your particular printer and paper combination are usually available form the paper manufacturers website and usually come with instructions which also tell you what media settings to use in the printer driver. Hahnemuhle Print Driver Settings for Fine Art Baryta 325 - Epson R3880

These are what are know as canned profiles which have been produced by the paper manufacturers. If you are looking for specific profiles to match your individual Paper and ink combination then you will have to spend a little money and get a custom profile created.


Black & White Printing With The Epson ABW Driver

by Ian Barber

Epson ABW Driver The Epson Advanced Black and White driver in its simplest terms is a black box. You can send a colour file through the driver and will convert it to black and white based on its own algorithm. I would recommend that you do the initial black and white conversion in post production rather than letting the driver do the conversion as this will give you greater control. The ABW driver will deliver outstanding Neutral Black and White prints. One of the advantages of using the ABW driver is that it turns off two of the coloured inks (Cyan and Magenta) Unlike the colour print driver which requires a colour ICC profile, the Epson Advanced Black and White driver does not require any profiles because ABW is a non ICC workflow. How To Access The ABW Driver From Photoshop.

From the print dialog in photoshop it is important to make sure you select “Printer Manages Colors” because the ABW driver is a non ICC workflow and therefore we do not want to select a colour ICC profile. We then press the “Print Settings” button. From here you will be able to navigate through and select the ABW driver. After pressing the Print Settings in the Photoshop Dialog box, the route you need to take to finally end up at the Epson ABW driver will be slightly different depending upon whether you are using Microsoft Windows or Apple Mac operating system. ! ! ! !

With the latest Mac operating system, you will not be able to select the ABW driver if you try to let Photoshop Manage Colours but with Windows 7 systems, the ABW driver is never greyed out so be careful because although you might be able to select the ABW driver, you are not using it.


Black & White Printing With The Epson ABW Driver

by Ian Barber

ABW Driver Dialog Box

When we finally arrive at the Advanced Black and White driver dialog box, which I know can be sometimes a lengthy journey especially for a Mac user, we can see that we are presented with more options and sliders. Although at first, they all look complicated, the more you study them easier the entire process will become. Epson have done a good job at optimizing the ABW driver to work with most of the default settings apart from one of them (Tone) which we will explain as and when we arrive at that particular option.


Black & White Printing With The Epson ABW Driver

by Ian Barber

Let us now explore the individual options of the Advanced Black and White Driver dialog box. Printer: This will list your installed printers. Select your Epson printer from this list. Presets: One nice feature of the ABW dialog box is that it allows you to save your current settings as presets. So for example, you may have found a setting for a certain paper which you like and rather than having to dial these in each time, you can save them as a custom preset and then retrieve them easily from the drop down menu. Paper Size: You select your current paper size from the available options. You also have the option to set a custom paper size and save that as a preset. Print Settings: The Print Settings allow you to set various options, most of them will not need any changes but if you are curious about what the settings do, then this would be a good time to read the manufacturers manual as they are going to be different depending which printer you have installed. One setting under the Print Setting options that is important is the Media Type. This is where you tell the driver what paper you are using.

If you are using Epson Paper then you will simply choose the paper from the available options. If you are using a third party paper, then you will select the paper type that the manufacturer of the paper tell you as described on page 10 of this document.


Black & White Printing With The Epson ABW Driver

by Ian Barber

The Media Type setting controls the driver's ink strategy during printing. This includes details such as how much ink to put down for a given RGB value, how to mix the inks, etc. Different Media Types are appropriate for different kinds of paper. It is very important to understand that the Media Type isn't directly tied to the actual paper that you print on. Even if you select the Premium Luster Media Type, for example, the printer doesn't know whether you're really using Epson Premium Luster Photo Paper or whether you've actually fed some other type of paper (such as Ilford Smooth Pearl or Innova Smooth Cotton). All the printer driver does is carry out the ink strategy associated with the Premium Luster Media Type, regardless of which paper you're using. Naturally, the ink strategy for each Media Type is optimized by Epson to work on the corresponding Epson paper. For example, the Enhanced Matte Media Type is designed to work well for Epson Enhanced Matte paper, and the Premium Glossy Media Type is optimized for Epson Premium Glossy. You can certainly use third-party papers. When you download colour profiles for the paper (usually from the paper manufacturer's web site), there are usually instructions telling you which Media Type to choose in the driver settings. The settings we have just briefly talked about are mainly for telling the printer what paper and size of paper we are going to be using as well as what media settings we need to be using. In the next section, we will take a closer look at what I call the ABW specific options, it is these options that are tightly connected with the ABW driver and determine to some degree what you receive out of the printer of the final print.


Black & White Printing With The Epson ABW Driver

by Ian Barber

ABW Specific Options We are now into the meat of the ABW settings so let us start to explore what is on offer here.

Color Toning: The options available under the Color Toning are: • • • •

Neutral Cool Warm Sepia

The colour toning options are effectively presets of the horizontal and vertical values shown on the colour wheel. The Neutral option will give you a Neutral Print, the Cool option will give you a slightly bluer print, the Warm will render a slight toned result and the Sepia will give you a medium to strong brownish result. As you select any of the 4 options, you will see a change in the image in the dialog box, this is only a visual representation and not real time. You will need to do some sample prints to see which options you like. For me personally, if I am wanting to produce a toned image, I find that the Warm setting offers the best results. (we will discuss toned images later)


Black & White Printing With The Epson ABW Driver

by Ian Barber

Tone: The default Tone value is Darker, but even Epson and several well respected print masters have suggested that darker is a poor place to start your ABW printing. After doing my own experimenting, I agree with the recommendation of Epson, Greg Gorman, Vincent Versace, and others who have all said that Dark is a better place to start. Unlike the Colour Toning options, these aren’t presets that map to values you can adjust in the Colour Controls dialog box, so you must pick one and accept the changes it makes. It is a good idea to chose one value and always use that value, and then modify your source image to get the desired black level. This will make your workflow much simpler should you need to do prints in the future and replicate your settings. Tone and Gamma: The Tone options are in effect changing the gamma space. The ABW driver is expecting to receive a file that is in the Gamma 2.2 workspace, we talked about Colour Spaces back on page 6. Just to recap what we said.... We arrived at the conclusion that using a ProPhoto RGB Colour space will give us more elbow room and is the colour space that most of the pro photographers are now working in. Remember that we also mentioned that the default working Colour Space for Adobe Lightroom is ProPhoto so it makes sense for those that use this application to adapt the ProPhoto Colour space across their digital workflow. Although Lightroom uses the ProPhoto Colour Space, when you export an image from within Lightroom, you do have the option to apply a colour space in the export dialog and you can choose between ProPhotoRGB, AdobeRGB and sRGB depending on what you are planning to do with the exported image. The ProPhoto Colour Space is Gamma 1.8 so how does this affect us now we know that the ABW driver is expecting to receive a file in the Gamma 2.2 Space. There are definitely differences in the final print depending whether you send a file in the 2.2 or 1.8 Gamma space. The gamma 2.2 space produces a more linear response and exhibits a midpoint lightness value of 50. The reason this happens is that ABW does not color manage in the same sense that Photoshop does. Images that start out as colour images (either sRGB or Adobe 1998) do not have a working space problem. Conversion to black and white using the Image/Adjust/Black and White does not change the work space. If the image was originally in Adobe 1998 it is still in Adobe 1998 after the conversion. Images that start out in a gamma 1.8 space can have a problem when using the ABW driver so this is why you have Tone Options to choose from. These values correspond to gamma changes (i.e., 1.8, 2.0, etc‌) which is why it is ok to use something besides Normal.


Black & White Printing With The Epson ABW Driver

by Ian Barber

Other ABW adjustments For Matte papers the screen match is not as good as for glossy. If you want a screen match you will need to experiment with the other settings. Generally, you will need higher brightness and contrast settings than the default. Brightness: This is like Brightness in the Photoshop Brightness/Contrast slider in that it increases brightness. Contrast: This is also like Contrast in the Photoshop Brightness/Contrast control. Shadow Tonality: This is intended to open up the dark (shadow) areas without affecting the lighter tones. It produces a very similar effect to a Photoshop curve Highlight Tonality: This is intended to give more detail in light areas (highlights) without affecting the darker tones. It produces a result very similar to a Photoshop curve. Shadow and Highlight tonality adjustment are not equivalent to adjustments produced by the shadows and highlights command in Photoshop. The Photoshop adjustments are superior. Max Optical Density: Using this slider is about the fastest way I know to ruin an image. It takes out all the black. Epson uses a little of this setting for the Sepia color toning. Here it gives that old fashion faded look. Otherwise forget it. Highlight Point Shift: The Highlight Point Shift can be set to place a low intensity dot pattern over the image, or the entire print (or not used at all, in the ‘off’ position). This places ink on all parts of an image, including pure highlights, so that there are no bare patches, which seem to trouble only those people who insist on looking at prints on an oblique angle. My suggestion is to leave this OFF


Black & White Printing With The Epson ABW Driver

by Ian Barber

Colour Toning With The ABW Driver I have decided to allocate a separate section to this because this is an area that really can get confusing especially when doing the black and white conversion in other software. In the ABW dialog box, there is what is called the Colour Wheel and two separate input boxes, one for the vertical and one for the horizontal scale. You can either move the cross hair (+) in the centre of the colour wheel, input numbers directly in to the input boxes or use the small up and down arrows next to the input boxes. Along the outside edge of the colour wheel, you will see letters which correspond to colours. For example, if we were to move the cross hair (+) towards the Y we would be adding yellow to the image and if we were to move the crosshair towards the B on the colour wheel, we would be adding Blue into the image. Toning an image is very subjective indeed and therefore it is extremely difficult if not impossible to have preset values. My recommendation is to experiment by making several small test prints until you find a setting that appeals to you. The beauty here is that once you have managed to find a combination that you like, you can easily save these as a preset.


Black & White Printing With The Epson ABW Driver

by Ian Barber

Toning Images With Other Software Adding a tone to an image is not for everyone and can be very subjective. I personally like to apply a tone to certain images for when I display them on the internet. The method I personally use depends upon how I am doing my initial black and white conversion. If I am using the Nik Software Silver Efex Pro plugin, I have a tendency to use either the coffee or sepia presets but if I am using Photoshop, I apply the toning when I am back in Lightroom through some home made presets. Nik Silver Efex Pro Toning On the right hand side of the Silver Efex Pro interface, scroll down and select the Finishing Adjustments. In here you are able to select from a wide variety of toning presets. Sepia 19 and Coffee 13 are my personal favorite settings. You then have options to fine tune the settings until you reach the desired look.


Black & White Printing With The Epson ABW Driver

by Ian Barber

Adobe Lightroom Toning In Lightroom, from the develop module, you apply toning to your image from the Split Toning Panel.

You can use any combinations of the sliders to effect the toning. Adding a tone to both the shadow and highlight areas of an image is called split toning.


Black & White Printing With The Epson ABW Driver

by Ian Barber

Issues With Toning Images & ABW ABW Driver Removes The Toning. One of the main disadvantages of toning your images with a third party program and then printing them with the Advance Black and White Driver is that the driver will remove the toning from the image and may affect the way in which the final print looks. One interesting point to note here is that, the "tone" you send to the ABW driver can affect the way the driver's look up table (LUT) interpreters the colour. What this means is that if you do tone your images through a third party application and print it through the ABW driver, the driver will interoperate the colours as different tones and in some cases can produce your desired look. You can effect the changes in tone in the ABW Driver by the colour you send to it. Colour affects how it prints. To test this, make a print green (in Photoshop, make a layer fill it with green set that layer to colour blend mode) and do the same again only this time fill it with red. Print using the ABW Driver set to Warm and look at the results. I find that when I tone my images either in Lightroom or Silver Efex Pro and print through the ABW driver, it prints it the way I like it. As mentioned earlier, you can also achieve this by playing with the Colour Wheel controls in the ABW dialog box but I find it easier to tone the print that I send to the driver. Printing through the colour driver. Another solution is to print the image through the colour driver and not the ABW driver which is achieved by letting Photoshop Manage Colours, disabling the driver colour management and applying the correct ICC profile for the printer and paper combination.


Black & White Printing With The Epson ABW Driver

by Ian Barber

Black and White Neutrality One of the main issues that photographers have been faced with in Digital printing is obtaining a Neutral Black and White Print without any forms of Colour Casting. As technology improves, we naturally expect to receive better results in the things we like to do. I can only speak for Epson Printers here, but my personal experience has taught me that with the ABW driver and better papers with greater DMAX values, we can produce Black and white prints that some have said even surpass Dark Room Printing. Printing black and white images through the colour ICC system can in certain instances give your images a slight magenta type colour cast which is because all the inks are used to produce the final black and white print. The ABW driver addresses this issue by switching off the Cyan and Magenta inks completely. Once you have mastered how the ABW driver works, I personally believe that you will be amazed at the results it can give you both in both toned and Neutral prints.


Black & White Printing With The Epson ABW Driver

by Ian Barber

Conclusion That just about wraps up the eBook on using the Epson ABW Driver. Digital printing can be very complicated but at the same time is very enjoyable. I hope you have found the information helpful and I always like to hear your comments. Please feel free to drop me a line through the contact form on my Digital Black and White Website. http://www.digitalblackandwhite.co.uk. For anyone who doesn’t have the right equipment to produce quality prints, I have set up a custom print service which you can read all about on the Digital Black and White Website. http://www.digitalblackandwhite.co.uk.


Black & White Printing With The Epson ABW Driver

by Ian Barber

Links and Resources My Personal website: http://www.ianbarberphotography.co.uk My Digital Black and White Website: http://www.digitalblackandwhite.co.uk Me on Google +: https://plus.google.com/107280459342776292862/posts Digital Black and White Learning Forum: http://www.digitalmonochromeforum.co.uk

Printing With The Epson Black and White Driver  
Printing With The Epson Black and White Driver  
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