Monday, February 2, 2009

Your Best Prints Ever

Nothing gives a photograph more impact than a high-quality print. Printing today is easier than ever, with a number of options available for lab-quality prints on a wide variety of media types, but selecting the right printer, paper and ink type for your needs is more complicated. The good news is that it’s hard to go wrong with any of the major printers as long as you choose the one that’s most suited for your type of work.
Damian Greene Published in Printing
Your Best Prints Ever

This Article Features Photo Zoom

 your best prints ever Hahnemühle FineArt Papers.
For consistently perfect prints with optimum longevity, your printer maker’s inks and papers are the simplest choice. Don’t let that stop you from experimenting with third-party offerings, though, as there are many terrific options to add an artistic texture to your trophy shots with specialty papers.
Paper Choices
The types of paper you choose have a strong impact on the look of your prints. After deciding on your printer, you need to choose your papers. The safe path is to stay with papers sold by your printer manufacturer. These papers all have been tested with that printer and normally have profiles installed for them to get the best possible output. If you’re not inclined to experiment, we recommend sticking with the manufacturer’s media for consistently good prints.

your best prints ever
Printer drivers offer many options, including color controls. Here, we’ve turned off color management, to allow our photo software to handle it.
When you’re ready to try something new, though, you have some great options available. Everything from 100% cotton rag to traditional baryta-coated papers to handmade Japanese Washi papers to everything in between are being sold in sizes designed for inkjet printing. Most of these companies have profiles available on their websites to help you get the best possible results from your printer (more on using profiles in a bit), which also gives you a good indication of compatibility with the different printers.

Some of the more exotic papers can be expensive, so we recommend buying in small quantities and making test prints until you find some that you really like. You can cut a large sheet into halves or quarters to get more mileage out of your test packs.

Preparing Your Image for Print
A good print starts with a properly adjusted image, so the prep work you do in your imaging program will pay off with a top-quality print. The key things to consider are color adjustments and sharpening. Prints often can look a bit less saturated on paper, so an increase in saturation, depending on your image type, can be a useful adjustment.

your best prints ever
Every image needs a little sharpening; for best results, do this as the final step
before printing.
In Photoshop, you can do this by selecting Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Saturation (if you’re using Photoshop CS4, the new Vibrance adjustment is a better option). Using an adjustment layer lets you make changes to your images that don’t modify the original. You can turn the adjustment off, or delete it if you change your mind. Small increases are the key to success here. Most images work best with only a few points of increased saturation before the image starts to get an artificial look to it.

Sharpening is best done as the last step in your workflow, after resizing the image for output and doing all other adjustments. The settings you use are based on what’s in the image and on what type of media you’ll be printing.

For example, a landscape with fine details will handle more sharpening than a portrait where you want to keep skin tones smooth. The same is true with glossy papers versus textured surfaces. The glossy media can handle higher sharpness settings than the textured media.

The key to your sharpening is in the Unsharp Mask filter (Filter > Sharpen > Unsharp Mask). Unsharp Mask works by enhancing the contrast along edges in your image. There are three controls: Amount controls how strong the effect is; Radius controls how wide the adjustment is; and Threshold controls how much difference there must be between pixels in order to be considered an edge. For fine details, a higher Amount and lower Threshold are appropriate, while portraits and areas with lots of smooth tones will work better with a lower Amount and a higher Threshold.


  • Comment Link Richard Kennon Friday, February 20, 2009 posted by Richard Kennon

    I purchased an HP B8850 printer and discovered that Application Managed Colors print out as mud. An HP rep told me they don't have a plug-in for Photoshop Elements.

    Is there a solution to this problem?

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