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
Photoshop’s Black and White adjustment gives you wide latitude in controlling how colors are converted to gray tones.
Black & White Prints
The last time black-and-white was this popular, it was the only option available. In my workshops, how to print quality black-and-white photos is one of the most frequently requested subjects. A simple Convert to Grayscale usually will leave your images flat and lifeless. This used to mean learning to master the Channel Mixer in Photoshop, something that intim-idated many users. The newer versions of Photoshop have a Black and White adjustment that gives you complete control over how each color channel is reproduced, much like shooting with black-and-white film and using a color filter.

Once again, we suggest using an adjustment layer for this work. Select Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Black & White. You’ll now have control over every color channel if you choose. There’s also an Auto option that often makes for a good starting point. After coming up with just the right set of adjustments, you also can click on the Tint button to apply an overall color tone for the image, giving you sepia, platinum, selenium and other options. If you’re really into black-and-white, you might consider one of the plug-ins available just for this, like Nik Software’s Silver Efex Pro.

Choosing The Right Settings
Nothing will ruin a good image and good sheet of paper faster than printing with the wrong settings. This is the area that trips up most people, and one of the most common complaints is “my print doesn’t match my screen.” Assuming that you’ve calibrated your display (visit www.pcphotomag.com to learn how), getting a print-to-screen match isn’t difficult, once you know the basics.

You have two options for controlling color in your prints. You can choose to have your imaging application manage your color or let the printer driver handle it for you. For highest quality, application-managed is normally the best choice if you have the proper paper profile installed.

In Photoshop, select File > Print. Under Color Handling, select Photoshop Manages Colors, and under Printer Profile, select the paper profile that matches your printer and paper. I normally print with Relative Colorimetric as the Rendering Intent, and you should leave Black Point Compensation checked.

your best prints ever If you choose to use Photoshop (or another
imaging application) to manage your color, don’t forget to both enable this
in Photoshop, as well as disable color management
in your printer driver.
Now, click Print to display the printer dialog. Here, you’ll need to do two things. First, select the type of paper you’re using. If you’re printing with the manufacturer’s brand of paper, this will be easy, since they’re all listed in the paper types. If you’re using a third-party paper, select the type that matches most closely. For example, if you’re printing on Hahnemühle Smooth Pearl, you’d select the Luster or Satin paper type in the printer driver. The other setting, and this is perhaps the most critical, is to turn color management off in the printer. The wording varies from one company to the next: Canon calls it “Off,” Epson uses “Off (No Color Adjustment),” and HP uses “Application Managed.” Failing to do this will almost certainly guarantee a print that looks nothing like your screen.

The second option is to let the printer handle color. This is the best choice if you don’t have paper profiles. In this case, you’ll select Printer Manages Colors. This disables the Printer Profile list. In the printer driver, you’ll now select the appropriate paper type like the first example, but select the type of color handling in the driver. Canon uses “Standard,” while Epson and HP both offer the choice of sRGB or Adobe RGB. You should use the same color setting as your image (which can be found by looking at the Document setting in the Photoshop Print dialog).

Jon Canfield’s latest book is Photodex ProShow: Visual QuickStart Guide. Visit his website at www.joncanfield.com.

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