Friday, September 30, 2005

The Better Print

Getting a good print today has become the norm with the latest digital cameras and printers. While you still may have some challenges, printer manufacturers, in particular, have worked hard to give users the ability to create outstanding prints. Now it's time to move beyond simply outputting a good print. I want to help you find ways to make your prints better express what you saw when you took the picture and how you felt about the subject.

DPMag Published in Printing
The Better Print

Evaluate Overall Contrast. Does the work print look right in terms of contrast? Often, an image will look fine on the monitor, but lose something in contrast as a print because the media are different. In addition, for critical work, you need to let the print "dry down" (even if it comes out of the printer dry) for at least an hour, as this affects blacks.

Craft The Image. To get the most from your printing and to get a better print, we need to go back to the true craftsmen of photographic printing, like Ansel Adams and W. Eugene Smith. A good print comes from examining that work print and then crafting its enhancements, mastering the technology for your use, not letting technology master you. This means keeping the photo as most important, not Photoshop technique.

Check Your Size. The size of an image tremendously affects how you react to it. While you can print a test image at 4x6 inches for a quick color check, you can't totally judge it at that size if you're planning on an 11x14-inch print of the same subject. This is another reason why the monitor can be misleading, simply because it can't display really big images. Make a print at the size of your final intended print for critical evaluation.

Examine Local Tonalities And Color.
Local refers to small areas of the photo. You can have the whole photo looking great, but when it's printed big, you see problems with details of the image being too dark or off-color.

Check Overall Balance. Many scenes have brightnesses or tonalities out of balance for the print. One side may be too bright or dark, for example, and needs to be balanced to the rest of the image.

Watch For Color Casts. When that work print is in hand, you may discover that it seems a little out of tune for color.

Look For Noise. Noise is a stubborn and stealthy problem. It can hide on the monitor, then appear all too well in the print. You go back to the screen, and sure enough, there it is, but it took the print for you to really see it.


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