Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Make Your Best Prints Ever

One of the great joys resulting from the change to digital compared to shooting film is the ability to get great photo prints optimized for the subject and photographer. Everyone who used to try to get a good, custom print from a slide or negative knows what a challenge that used to be. There were multiple visits to the lab when an image didn't print right and had to be reprinted. Or often, you'd just accept the print as is because it was "good enough," and any changes weren't worth the back-and-forth with the lab. You probably know what I'm talking about.

DPMag Published in Printing
Make Your Best Prints Ever

If you print with the printer in charge, you simply tell Photoshop that's what you're doing, select a print quality for the printer, choose a paper in the printer driver and be sure color management is on in the printer driver. Printer manufacturers want you to have a good experience printing. It's to their benefit when the printer software handles the paper profile automatically—if the resulting prints are good. I've found, when working with a lot of photographers, that sometimes no matter what they do, they can't get the results they want with a paper profile. Yet if they select this choice and let the printer take control, they often do. It can be worth trying a sheet of paper to see how it goes.

You also may find that you have another option to choose: Rendering Intent. With it, you have two choices, Perceptual and Relative. Both work, but it's my experience that photographers generally prefer Perceptual. I'd recommend you use it. Try Relative if you want to experiment.

Ready To Print Ready To Print
Once you've made all of your adjustments and you're ready to print, you need to set up your printer and print. This is one area where Mac and Windows operating systems differ completely. The Mac OS incorporates the printer driver (the printer's software) into its own graphics and separates the options into different sections of a single Print dialog box. The Windows OS accesses a unique printer driver dialog through the Properties button in the Windows Print dialog box.

Regardless, the choices you make for a print are essentially the same in both systems. Here are the options you must confirm:

Number Of Copies To Print. This is a standard part of all computer printing programs.

Color Management. This goes right back to Color Management in Photoshop. If you chose to have the printing managed by the printer, then select ColorSync for Mac and ICM for Windows. If you chose a paper profile, you must choose No Color Adjustment. This is important because you don't want the printer trying to readjust colors already adjusted for a paper profile by Photoshop.

Print Settings. Another important setting, this makes a huge difference, and if you miss it, you can totally change the look of a photo. You must tell the printer what paper you're using so it knows how to put ink on the paper. Another important choice is the print quality. You must tell the printer what you're printing so it uses the proper printing resolution. You'll usually find that the default resolution for this print quality will give excellent results and that higher resolutions usually do little other than slow down the printer.

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