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In this course, photographer and author Ben Long explores the art and the craft of creating beautiful, archival-quality inkjet prints. The course looks at the anatomy of a print job: how a printer works, how to adjust and prepare your image to get the best results, and what happens to your photo in its journey from pixels to paper.
After a discussion of how to choose a printer, the course covers the process of preparing both black and white and color images using Adobe Photoshop. Ben describes how to take images from looking good onscreen to being properly adjusted for best results on paper, covering details such as sizing, sharpening, and color management.
With photographer and master framer Konrad Eek, Ben explores the creative decisions that photographers should address before printing. What size print? How does print size relate to the message of the photo and to the space where the photo will be displayed? What kinds of paper choices do you have, and how does your photo's content relate to the paper you choose?
The course also describes how to properly evaluate a print and how to handle common challenges that crop up during the printing process.
We are now ready to prepare this color image for print. This is another student image. This is by a student named Charity Jack. And she gave me this image to print, I've assigned the color space that I want, and I am ready to go, I just need to start in on my adjustments. Now Photoshop provides you with a huge array of tools for adjusting and correcting color. And for the most part I find that my color adjustments as I get ready for print are very slight. If you follow the things that we've been doing in this course and get your tones adjusted properly, you're probably going to find that your color falls into place.
So in this course I am not going to show you a lot of color manipulation, we're not going to dive into Hue/Saturation dialogs and Color Balance and Selective Color and all that kind of stuff, there are lots of places in the lynda library where you can learn to do that. Instead I'd like to now show you the tonal correction techniques that we've been doing but in terms of color, and I am going to show you one color adjustment that might come up more often than you realize, and it's a subtle thing, it's easy to miss, and it's pretty critical for getting good color. So if you really want to learn how to do wild color alterations and how to really know how to drive every single color correction tool in Photoshop, you can find those in some other courses, but here I am going to stick with just the simple, sometimes very subtle color adjustments that I tend to do when I need to get an image ready for print.
So I like this shot a lot, I want to, of course, check my Histogram so I'm going to add a Levels Adjustment layer here. And when I do that I can see that my whites are a little off. I'm not clipping anything, which is good, but my significant tonal data doesn't really start till about right there. I expect that these bits here are these clouds, maybe the brightest spots on her shirt, so I'm going to pull this over to here with the hope that that's going to really punch up the rest of my tones. Let me give you a before and after, here's before, here's after, and sure enough as we've seen throughout this course that takes that gray pal off the image, it's just got more pop.
Just as it did in a black and white image, getting contrast correct is making the whole image look better, but watch what it's doing in terms of color. The color of her skin and her hair is really saturating up in a nice way. So here's a way where I fixed that color in her hair, her hair should be somewhat yellowish and here it's a little more gray, here it's got some of that yellow back. I've fixed the color of her hair, not with a color adjustment but with a tonal adjustments, this is why, again, I will reiterate that getting your tones correct is crucial, not just for overall contrast and to eliminate that gray smear that was over the image, but to get color where it needs to be. Now this is resulting in some clipping.
I've lost this detail here in my clouds, maybe a little bit on her shoulder. So I am just going to fix that with a little masking. I am going to take a 50% gray, roughly, click on my layer Mask, grab myself a nice big brush and just retouch those clouds there to pull the tones back where they need to be. I think I am going to hit her shoulder the same way, because it's looking a little hot. So that looks good, I feel like overall we've got our tonality in the image more where it needs to be. I think her face is a little bit dark, so I am going to pull up another Levels Adjustment layer and make an adjustment here that I am going to target to only her face.
Now, I don't really know where to put this adjustment right now because my Histogram is showing me the Histogram for the entire image. So I'm just going to ballpark it, I am going to brighten that up, and now I am going to put my mask in place and then I'll be able to assess whether my tones are correct on her face. So, I am going to select all and with black as my background color, which I have here, I am going to hit Command+Delete, and that fills my mask with black. And now again this is a little bit of a bug in CS6, I believe this is also in CS5, it has not updated my Histogram, I can get it to update by just making a little adjustment.
Oh! I am sorry it has not updated my histogram because I don't have a hole in my mask yet. So I'm going to switch to white paint in my foreground and then I am going to just paint onto her face. And where I paint I am punching a hole in the mask, and that's brightening her face up. Okay, now here is that bug I was talking about, it has not yet updated the Histogram. If I click here, it does. Okay so I can see that my brightest tone within the area that's showing through the mask is way over here, but I have my white point set way over here.
So I am going to go ahead and slide that on over, and that's going to brighten up her face quite a bit more. Now if that's looking too bright to you I would say don't worry about it, trust the Histogram for now, that's going to give us a print with a lot of nice tonality in her face. The problem is my mask is uneven. So I am going to go to a smaller brush here and start trying to touch up the mask here on her face. Getting a little bit of a halo up there, I think I am going to not worry about that too much, because it just looks like part of the sky. I do want to get some of this blackness off of her nose.
Now to really make this mask work what I probably need to do is go in with Photoshop Selection tools and build a mask the right way using maybe the Quick Select tool and Refine Edge. But for the sake of expediency I am going to just do that and again you can look up those masking tools at other places in the lynda library. So I think that's looking pretty good. Let me show you again a before and after. Here's before, here's after, definitely like her face brighter, also look at the color values in her skin tones. Can't really see any red in her lips there, here I am starting to notice the difference between the color of her lips and her face.
Also notice that I'm not bothering to open up this area, or the area along her hair, I like having those shadows there, gives her face some depth. Again I'll want to ultimately retouch this mask and get that working well. One last thing I think, and that's the whites of her eyes, they are just a little dull right now and even though she's not looking into the camera, I think it would still be nice to have a whiter white in her eyes. So I am just going to brighten that up a bit and again put a mask in place to brighten that up. Okay, I am not seeing much change yet so I'm going to, there we go, crank that up, and that's before and after.
So I think that's looking better, ooh boy, I don't know, maybe the eyes are a little too white now, it's looking a little Stepford wife-ish somehow, okay take that back down I like that better. Now, those are my tonal corrections, I feel like I've got the tone in the image looking good, that has corrected the color in her face and her hair. But I am going to challenge you now to look at this image and tell me if the whites in the image truly are white. And that may sound like a trick question here, but look at the brightest white here is that really white? If you can kind of separate the correction that your eye is doing, because your eye always tries to correct a whitish color to appear white.
If you can learn to look at it really objectively you might see that this actually looks a little blue, in fact the whole image has a little bit of a blue cast. And just to double-check then I am going to grab my eyedropper here and open up my Info palette, and I am going to just mouse over this area right here. Now I can't, unfortunately, gesture to the screen with my mouse without moving the eyedropper. So let me just say I am going to want you to look at these three numbers right here and what you see is that in this area 214, 221, 232 there is a little bit more blue than anything else.
As I move that around I find that consistently I've got more blue than anything else and, of course, to get white I want fairly equal parts of red, green, and blue. So I am going to go under the assumption that this image actually is off in its color balance. This was a shady cloudy situation that's something that can easily trick an auto white balance mechanism and usually trick it into erring on the side of blue. So I think what this image really needs is another Levels Adjustment, so I am going to do that up here. And this time I don't want to correct tone, I want to do a color correction.
I want to grab this midpoint eyedropper here and click it on something in the image that's supposed to be gray. And I am going to for this area right in here, and as I do that the image warms up a lot, it warms up too much. I am going to undo that and click more down here. And that's better but still not quite right. I am looking for a good gray, I like that. So let's see a before and after, before, after. You can see it's just put a little bit of warmth back into the image, it has ultimately for all intents and purposes corrected the white balance.
This is a critical thing to pay attention to particularly when you're shooting in shade. This is the color correction that I make the most often. Sometimes white balance is just off a little bit and image needs to be warmed up a little bit. And if you can do it in Camera Raw that's great, but if you're already here in Photoshop making a midpoint adjustment using that eyedropper, really makes a big difference. So I am almost ready to print here, the last thing I would do, would be to go in and fix up my masking here on her face. But those are the types of color adjustments that I typically work out towards printing.
Making sure that my tone is correct, because that's going to put colors in place and making sure that my overall white balance is in place. I don't spend a lot of time tweaking the color of the sky or things like that, I tend to go for more naturalistic look in my images, the fact is cameras today are very, very good at capturing color. Once you get black and white in place the rest of your colors should be fine.
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