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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.
If your ultimate goal for your print is to matte it, frame it, and hang it on a wall, there are some things that you might want to think about during the printing process. So, to address those, I brought in my friend Konrad Eek here. We've been working in his framing gallery here, and he's going to answer a couple of questions that I've got, the same types of questions that you might want to ask whoever it is you have frame your work. I think you're going to find that Konrad is incredibly knowledgeable about matting and framing. I think you're also going to find that right now he sounds awful.
Konrad, you sound awful. Konrad Eek: Thank you very much for noticing. I am trying to work through a little bit of a cold, and it's made my voice a little bit rougher than usual. Ben: All right! Well, hopefully it's not going to impact any of your answers. Konrad: No, no it hasn't penetrated that far. Ben: So, I've got a print. My first question when I'm printing is, well, I've got my matte papers, I've got my glossy papers, and I'm thinking I'm aiming this print towards framing, which means I'm going to put glass in front of it. Does it matter if I'm choosing matte or glossy paper if I'm going to have a glossy piece of glass in front of it? What are the differences? Konrad: I tend to prefer matte paper on the glass because with a glossy paper you can sometimes get two layers of shine out of the same thing.
So, if you've got a duller paper underneath the glass, it tends to read a little bit better. Ben: So it's just one less--going with matte is one less layer of interference between you and-- Konrad: Exactly! And there are also glass types you can use that will cut down on reflection, but they have their own inherent problems. One of them is they make your voice sound a lot like Mickey Mouse. Ben: Wow! I wouldn't have expected that. Konrad: But you can see here, this is a reflection control glass, and when you put it in front of the work, as you get it closer, there is a certain milkiness to it that disappears.
But if you've got any kind of separation, you can really start to lose contrast in the image. And so if you have a lot of reflections in the area, you're going to hang your work, you might consider this. Another way to go is with a museum glass which has reflection control as well but doesn't cause any of the milkiness. The disadvantage of the museum glass is it costs quite a bit more than the reflection control glass. Ben: I've been talking to them about different paper choices and how some paper choices might have just slightly better contrast than another paper choice.
If I'm putting some of this in front of it, and it's maybe going to be milky or take away some contrast, do I just go with a cheaper paper, or is it better to have the best possible image I can? Konrad: I thing you want to start with the best image you can, man, because if you are going to lose contrast, if you're starting off with something that's a little bit flatter, and then you lose more by the addition of the glazing, I really think you're taking away from the quality of the work. Ben: Okay. So it sounds like another thing that I'm balancing in here is maybe I like this glass because it doesn't reflect, but if I have chosen a framing style or something where the glass is going be father away, this is not a great option.
Konrad: Yeah, the reflection control is not a good option if you're adding a lot of depth in the matting technique, I would not recommend it. Ben: So I need to have some idea about the matting technique before I make this glass choice. Konrad: Yeah, and I talk quite a bit in an upcoming course on matting, framing, and hanging photographs about it's a group of decisions you need to make while you're getting ready to present your work. The frame, the matting technique, and the glazing are all integral to the final appearance of the work. Ben: Okay, let's talk about image size.
We've gone through in this course how you size your image for printing. But I've got a lot of different options when it comes to framing. I can go with pre-built frames that come in particular sizes, I can go with custom framing, how do I want to think about that? Konrad: Typically, Easel Back frames that we have some examples here are used mostly for portrait work, and those are very difficult to find in anything other than standard sizes. So, if you're shooting portraits with the intent of maybe putting them on a table or a metal piece in your home, I think it's best if you can even pre-visualize shooting to a standard size, because the typical sensor in a DSLR or a digital camera does not really match up very well with the standard sizes.
Ben: Right. Yeah, most of these standard sizes are not a 3:2 aspect ratio, so that doesn't work. So is it a good idea to buy the frame first before I even start printing? Konrad: Not necessarily, because there is a small number of standard sizes. If you just kind of think that you're going to lose about 20% of the width of your image when you compose, that works well. Then having the frame one hand is great, but if you don't have a chance to go shop first, if you just think of a standard 4x6, 5x7, and 8x10 sizes, it's pretty well served.
Ben: So, I've got this camera that's got lots of pixels in it, and I've got dozens of megapixels. I can print really big and maybe I am on a landscape shoot, and I am thinking, wow! I want to make a really big print, and I like to frame it, and hang it on my wall. Is that just going to cost me a fortune? Konrad: You've got money? Ben: Okay. Konrad: No, it is. The larger costs more. Every time you step up in size in your matting and framing, there is an increase in cost. There is a big cut off point at 32x40 inches, which is the limitation of standard sizes of matting and glazing.
There are some alternative ways to present things, though, that can help reduce cost. One of the things I've been doing lately is printing on a more of the fine art paper, and you can mount that fine art paper on board and varnish it, and at that point you've protected the surface with a varnish, and so you don't need to add the glazing in front of it, so you can eliminate the need for the matting, and the glazing which are two of the bigger costs in matting and framing the piece of work. Ben: Interesting! Are there standard sizes at larger size or is that always a custom frame? Konrad: There are a whole series of standard sizes that go all the way up to 32x40, and you can often find open back frames in those sizes that you can get quite a bit cheaper than if you have to go with custom framing. Ben: Okay.
We looked earlier at canvas which is a really fun inkjet option, because you don't need to put glass in front of it. What are some of my presentation options with canvas? Konrad: With canvas, typically you'd either want to mount it on board with an adhesive, or if you've got enough space on the edges of it, you can stretch it like a typical painter's canvas on stretcher bars. And then in some of the editions I've done on canvas, the artist will then go in and varnish that canvas just as they would a painting. Once again, that varnish, it's an acrylic- based varnish, and it doesn't interact with the inks at all, and it provides a nice protective layer for the print.
Ben: Okay, that's great! Konrad can go on like this all day long. He is really the guy to talk to about matting and framing, and you can see an entire course packed with detail about this stuff, and it's called Matting, Framing, and Hanging... Konrad: Your Photographs. Ben: Your photographs, okay, that's better than like your neighbors. Konrad: Yeah. We don't want to hang them-- Ben: Okay, right, right. And they will actually be able to hear you and everything in that. Konrad: Yeah, in that course I actually am able to speak English in an understandable way. Ben: All right! Well, check that out, and thank you very much Konrad.
Konrad: My pleasure! Thanks Ben!
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