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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.
At long last, I'm actually ready to print an image. I know it's been a long time, but you are actually going to see how the Print dialog works right here in this movie. Now earlier in this chapter, you saw me open the Raw file for this image, which of course was in color, and I did some input sharpening there, that is I sharpened in Camera Raw to restore little bit of detail. Then I came to make through and made some Tonal Adjustments, I put this Level Adjustment on to brighten her face because I noticed in Histogram that the whites are little off, and I needed to be sure that the whites particularly in her face were correct.
I chose not to tone her body because I like the depth that it gives, I like having that a bit darker, it makes your face stand out a little bit more. I then sized and sharpened, but also along the way, it turns out she needs this as a black and white head shot, so I've thrown in a black and white layer, of course, so far in this course, we've been working just with black and white images. We're going to continue to do that through the end of this chapter, don't worry we're going to go over Color in detail in the next couple of chapters. But as I said earlier, it's a little bit easier to understand some of these concepts if we remove color from the equation.
So we're working with this black and white image. I'm ready at last to print. I'm edited, sized, and sharpened. So I'm going to File and choosing Print. This brings up Photoshop's Standard Print dialog box. Now I'm in Photoshop CS6 here. If you're working with CS5, you're going to see something very similar. If you're working with earlier versions, your Print dialog is going to differ. Similarly, I'm printing to an Epson Printers so you're going to see some things that are Epson specific. Finally, you might not be using Photoshop, you might be using something else.
So no matter what printer you're using, no matter what version of Photoshop, no matter what image editor you are using, you're going to need to address the questions that I'm going to address right now in this Print dialog box. So follow along here. Even if you're using something different, that's okay because you still need to think about each one of these issues that I'm facing here and find the equivalent way to handle it in your copy of Photoshop or in your Image Editing Application. So the dialog is showing me a nice big Preview window over here. Over here it's giving me some very critical information about where my print is going to go.
I'm printing to an Epson Stylus Pro 3880, that's a nice big color Inkjet Printer. It's showing up in this menu because I've already installed the printer driver and made the printer active using the specific controls that the Mac OS has for doing that. I'm not going to go into here, you should already know how to add a printer. If not your printer will come with instructions telling you How to install the driver and add it. It's a very simple process. So I do want to make sure if I got multiple printers available--which I do--I do what to make sure that I'm on the right one.
So I've selected the right Epson printer, I want one copy. I'm going to hit now the Print settings button. This brings me to the Macintosh Standard OS Level Printer Driver dialog box. This is going to look different if you're using Windows; it might look a little bit different depending on the version of the Mac OS that you are using. If you don't see it this big, that's because you need to flip this little switch right here which reveals these Additional Controls. Again, one copy, most of the stuff I don't need to worry about. I do need to worry about paper size. I'm printing on a letter sized paper.
So I'm just going to keep that. Note, however, that depending on your printer, you might have some additional options. For example, the printer I'm using can be fed in a number of different ways. It's got a front feeder, it's got rear feeder, it's got a sheet feeder, it's got a manual rear feeder, which is what I use for really thick media. I'm just going to choose the default one which is the basic top loading sheet feeder that this printer has, but know that if you do want to use thicker media in a particular way in your printer that is going through a particular feeding slot, you may have to choose that right here.
Also, if your printer has a Borderless option which mine does, that's how you activate it. So just choosing Letter size doesn't actually allow me to make a borderless print. I have to say Letter size Borderless, and I have a couple different Options in terms of whether I want printer to automatically expand it or not. So I'm just going to stick with this. You'll need to figure these configurations and settings out for your own printer. Again, your printer manual should detail all that for you. There's a very, very critical setting that I need to make here in the Print dialog box, and you're going to need to find the equivalent for your printer.
If I pop this thing open, I get categories of additional settings. These up here Layout, Color Matching, Paper Handling, Cover Page, and Scheduler are all OS Level Default settings. Below that are a group of printer specific settings. These are things that Epson has inserted into the dialog box. I want to choose Printer Settings. For most Epson Printers, Printer settings is where you're going to go choose your Paper Type or Media Type. You need to find the equivalent for whatever your printer is, whether it's an Epson printer or another brand, you need to be able to tell the printer what kind of paper you're printing on.
In this case, I'm printing on a matte paper called Ultra Premium Presentation Paper Matte. That is an Epson-made paper, and all the papers that use listed in here are going to be Epson papers. They want you to buy their papers, they're not going to build-in settings for Non-Epson Papers. If you're using a Non-Epson Paper check the documentation that came with it because for a lot of Fine Art third-party papers they will list a specific Epson paper to pick here in the driver. I cannot add new papers here.
I only get these stock ones, so they will tell me which one to use. For the most part, all this setting does when I chose a particular paper is let the printer driver know how much ink it can lay down on the page. Now it also does give it some information about color and tone that can be used if I'm printing with the Printer Driver rather than having Photoshop manage the color, and we're going to talk all about that in the next couple of chapters. For right now just know that you need to pick the right kind of paper; otherwise, the printer may lay down too much ink and then you end up with paper that curled and buckled and rolled.
And again, if you're using a third-party paper, see if they cue you into a specific Epson paper. Next thing, if I'm printing in black and white, I need to tell the printer that if the printer has a specific black and white mode. Epson printers do, some HP Printers do some Canon printers do. Right now, my Print mode is AccuPhoto HD2, which is just an Epson brand name for their Color Technology. I am going to switch to Advanced Black and White photo. Now I could try printing this black and white image in Color mode.
If I do, odds are my grays are not going to be truly Neutral Gray, there are going have a little bit of the Color Cast to them. So I need to switch this to Advanced Black and White photo. That will ensure that I get truly neutral grays. Rest of the stuff, I can ignore. In Black and White photo mode, I've the options for toning the print, making it warmer and cooler. I just want Neutral, and I can choose a Resolution Setting. Most printers gives you an option between 1440 and 2880. Some also offer lower mode draft qualities.
I have never found a reason to go to a higher resolution. 2880 I find it doesn't give me any better detail, it doesn't make a better looking print, it just using ink faster so I tend to stay on 1440. These draft modes may be available depending on the paper choice that I make. If I switch to plain paper, it may activate these draft modes. All that does is give me a faster print. I'm going to just stick with superfine, I am going to leave High Speed checked. Flip Horizontal is only useful if I'm printing on transparency material, and it needs to be printed backwards to work right, back printed material like, black print film or transfers from transparencies on to other media might need horizontal flipping.
Finest Details and other one of the things, I don't ever see a difference, and I just leave it unchecked. The critical ones are making sure that your Media Type is selected, and that you have chosen the correct Color mode. So I'm going to hit Save Now, and that's going to return me to the Photoshop Print dialog. This doesn't actually start the print yet. I do that from Photoshop. Within Photoshop, I can control the orientation of the page. Obviously, I need that to the Portrait Orientation. Now there's another critical setting here, and that is color handling.
I have two choices for the Printer to Manage Color or for Photoshop to Manage Color. Because I'm printing in black and white, because I need to use that Driver Level Black and White setting to get a truly neutral gray, I need to leave this on Printer Manages Colors. This means there is now for sure no correspondence between my screen and the printer, but if I've been following my Histogram correctly, that shouldn't matter as much. So I'm going to stick with Printer Manages Colors. I want to be sure that I'm tagged with the profile, I am. It's Adobe RGB, that's not real critical right now, but it's good for the printer to know what kind of Color Space I was thinking about.
So I'm going to leave those set there. I just want normal printing. I'm going to leave Rendering Intent set to Relative Colorimetric. It's not going to really have much impact on this image. Finally, Position and Size, I had mentioned before that's it's possible to size in the Print dialog box, and I can. I can grab these handles here and shrink my image. I said before that you should never size in the Print dialog box, and I hope you understand now why I need to size before I sharpen, because I want to know that my sharpening settings are building halos that are the correct with for the particular size that I've scaled the image to.
If I scale it now, all that sharpening that I carefully set up might be wrecked. There is no guarantee that the Sharpening Settings that I had carefully crafted at the size that I was at before are still relevant to this size. So I never size my image in the Print dialog box. I always size it before and leave this alone. I want it centered on the page. If I want I can choose Crop Marks and Registration Marks. That can be useful sometimes if you are printing out images that need to be overlapped or something like that. I can even print out a Description in the label for fine art printing for the most part. You're never going to use those things.
So with all those things set, I'm ready to go. I now load paper into the printer, into the appropriate slot, hit the Print button, and wait for my print. Once it comes out, I'm going to want to assess whether my Tonal Adjustments were correct. If they are, then I'm good to go. I can Save this image and print it again anytime I want to know that I'll get reproducible results. If they work quite right, I can adjust things because I have made all of my Edits into discrete layers. At this point, I do a Save As. I am going to just hit the Done button here which will preserve my Print settings and go up here and do Save As.
I do not want to save over my original image, instead I am going to say, I am going to give this a name and say that it's letter size Epson matte. I might find that I need different types of adjustments for different types of papers so if I'm going to print on a couple different types of paper, I'll save out separate versions for each different type of paper. I'll also save out separate sizes as we have talked about before. I want to be sure that I always have my original image preserved, and if I've made printer-- or rather, paper-specific adjustments-- I'll save separate files for each of those.
So I'm going to go get this printed and take a look at it, and I expect it's going to come out okay because I've been very careful about keeping an eye on my Histogram.
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