Black-and-white with Aperture and the Epson 3800

by Charlie Miller

Last week, I had a chance to sit down and chat with fellow Aperture trainer and Apple certified Color Management consultant Peter Stroumtsos. Peter has been making some really nice black and white prints using Aperture and his Epson Stylus Pro 3800, combining Aperture’s monochrome mixer adjustment with the Advanced Black-and-White mode on the 3800. With this combo, he has achieved a workflow that gives him the look of traditional darkroom black-and-white prints, with the speed and flexibility of Aperture. Here's how he does it:

Prior to any adjusting or printing of photographs, Peter color calibrates and profiles his display using the X-Rite i1Photo. This important step ensures that what he sees on his display will accurately reflect the image that his printer outputs. The i1Photo can be used to profile various papers as they display color from the 3800, however we saw great results using the canned profiles that Epson includes with the 3800 for the Epson Ultra Premium Photo Paper paper (formerly known as Premium Luster Photo Paper) he is printing on.

Peter starts with a photo from the Aperture library and applies the monochrome mixer adjustment. He cycles through the default presets, evaluating how the image looks with the red filter, green filter, etc., and narrows the choices down to two or three presets that look the best. He toggles between his choices until he decides which of the built-in presets handle the black-and-white conversion the best; then if necessary, he manually tweaks the adjustment until the conversion looks good. To be sure he’ll get consistent results from the 3800, he uses Aperture’s Onscreen Proofing feature with the Ultra Premium Photo Paper profile (Pro38 PLPP.icc) to preview how the photo will look when it’s output on the paper.

When he’s ready to print, he customizes his printer settings to use the 3800’s Advanced Black-and-White mode. This mode uses the black and two gray ink cartridges in the 3800 to create the really impressive black-and-white prints. He can also choose to tint the print to cool or warm color tones. Using this flexible workflow, Peter says he's finally able to get the same consistent black-and-white prints he was formerly only able to get in his darkroom.


2007-10-29 19:41:13
I've tried this as well, but didn't get very good results. In the print dialog box there is a setting for ColorSync Profile. Which setting do you use in order to use Epson's Advanced Black and White Mode? If you choose the paper profile here, than Aperture and the printer are both attempting to render the picture and you end up with a very poor print.
2007-10-31 02:34:43
Dex- In the print dialog box you choose your paper profile, for example, Pro38 PLPP. Before that you want to make sure your Printer Settings are set correctly. Choose your printer and under Print Settings, select the correct media (in this example, Premium Luster Photo Paper and then "Advanced B&W Photo" under the Color pull-down menu. If you want to further adjust your toning, go to the "Printer Color Management" pull-down and adjust from there. I'm sure you'll be happy with the results.
2007-10-31 06:30:20
Thanks, Peter. I guess I was confused. I thought that with Aperture, like Photoshop, one needs to disable the printer driver color management when one wants to use the application's color management.

Conversely, for instance, when I want to use the Advanced B&W feature of the Epson driver and I am printing from Photoshop or LR, I select "Managed by Printer" in the print dialog. Does "system managed" in Aperture do the same thing?

In my discussions with Epson on this matter, they suggest disabling the application's color management if one wants to use their Advanced B&W feature. I've tried your technique with Aperture and have had inconsistent results.

You can still select the correct media in the Print drop down menus, but I think if you select the color profile for your media in Aperture's print dialog, and then select Advanced B&W in the Color pull-down menu, you are asking for trouble as both the application and the printer "think" they have responsibility for color management.