Working with Black & White Negatives

B+W Conversion
Recommended Settings
Toning Black & White

Converting Black & White Negatives

The basic workflow for converting black and white in Negative Lab Pro is very easy.

  • You do NOT need to white balance
  • You should crop out non-film elements (or use a suitable “Border Buffer” setting to keep them from being evaluated)
  • When you open Negative Lab Pro, set Color Model: B+W – this is the most important step.
  • Go ahead and hit that CONVERT NEGATIVES button!

That’s all it takes to convert!

When working with black and white, I like to start off with the following settings:

  • Everything zeroed out (you can hit the RESET button if you have a custom default setting that you use for color)
  • Then TONE: Linear + Gamma – this uses a gamma curve that is the same gamma curve as black and white photographic paper. It reverses out the gamma of black and white film, and I find it to be a nice, neutral starting point
  • From there, the most important adjustments will be Brightness and Contrast. Don’t be afraid to make big changes here if that’s what it needs!
  • If you want to get more of a natural photographic paper look, I’d also recommend experimenting with the BlackClip and WhiteClip settings. By default, Negative Lab Pro will normalize the image, so that it fits right up to the full tonal range of your monitor. But you can fully adjust this to suit your taste or to emulate the tonal range of darkroom prints.

Toning Black & White

If you like to adding “toning” to your black and white images, you can do that all within Negative Lab Pro – no need to export out to other programs.

For instance, to emulate an Ilford Warmtone style:

  • Click the highs tab in the color section to open up the Highlight Toning Panel
  • Drag the Blue/Yellow balance towards Yellow. Somewhere around +16 should be good.
  • Increase the “range” all the way to 10 so that the toning just begins to reach into the shadows
  • In your tonal settings, move the Whites Slider down somewhere around -25 to allow the toning to show through more in the brightest highlights.

You can experiment with both the highlight and shadow toning, and you will be able to dial in the exact toning that you want with practice!