Everything you need to know to start printing your photographs perfectly today! Whether you’re using a lab or you’re own printer I’ve got some tips to really help you out.
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I absolutely love printing my pictures. It is the final step in creating an image and it just brings the work to life. I genuinely believe that photography is an art and when you print out a picture and hold it in your hand it is difficult to argue with that. You can see and feel the amount of work that has gone into creating the image and it takes on a new life once you can physically hold it in your hand.
I’m going to assume you are using Lightroom to edit your images but if you’re not the same applies to other software. I really recommend Lightroom though so I’ll put a link above where you can get a free trial. Once you have finished your edit and it’s time to print, the first thing to do is create a virtual copy of the image. This is going to be our print file. When we look at our image on a screen it is backlit by the monitor and once you print your image you obviously do not have that. So to compensate for this I always increase my exposure just a touch. Somewhere between a quarter and half a stop and it avoids the image printing out dull and disappointing. I then just pop that virtual copy into a collection so I have it for future reference.
Lab Vs DIY
So let’s just talk briefly about using a lab vs DIY.
Having your own good photo printer is a very nice thing. I have this Canon Pro 10s which prints up to A3+. It produces prints that are equal to the quality of a lab and I absolutely love it. It is expensive though and you need to work out whether it will be worth it for you.
A lab can often work out cheaper if you are not printing very often. They are also more versatile in terms of the size of print, the material you can print on and you can easily try out different papers. The downside is you’re not in control and the results can often be disappointing and colour not accurate.
Accurate colour is important because we want our images to print out to match how we have edited them on the screen. You don’t your beautiful orange and pink sunset to print out green. There’s a lot going on to go from screen to paper so we use ICC profiles to make it easy. ICC profiles are based on the type of printer being used and the type of paper. Once installed we can go into Lightroom and enable soft proofing in the develop module, select the paper you want to use and get a good idea of how your print will look on paper.
Good labs should all provide ICC profiles for you to download for free and if you are printing yourself, paper companies should provide them for your printer model.
So once you have applied the profile and made an adjustments you are now ready to print.
Next we need to decide what type of paper we’re going to use. Generally there are three kinds
The type and quality of the paper you use can massively affect the final print. It is very much a personal thing and something you will need to experiment with. As a general rule though I use a glossy finish for images that are heavily saturated and colourful.
The glossy finish really helps the colours to pop and it works perfectly for my water drop images and they just look brilliant.
Semi Gloss – I think is my favourite. I have been using Canson Baryta for years and it’s just a magnificent paper. It feels and looks extremely professional and high quality and works a really wide range of images. The majority of landscape prints I sell are printed on this.
Matt or Rag paper – Good cotton rag paper is the best bet for a matt finish. Good rag papers will have a high DMax rating which mean they hold the blacks very very well. Rag papers are perfect for black and white images although are also great for certain landscapes and colour portraits when a more muted fine art feel is required.
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