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.
|Printer drivers offer many options, including color controls. Here, we’ve turned off color management, to allow our photo software to handle it.|
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.
|Every image needs a little sharpening; for best results, do this as the final step |
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.