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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.
Ben: I think for some of you this is the first time you've ever really printed in a serious way, or had your images printed. And obviously one of the things we have to do here is we got a couple of different sizes that we had, that we were able to choose from, and we chose to make some images larger and some images smaller. When you first start on the process of printing a print, one of the things you want to think about is what output size are you going for? Do you want to do this image really large, do you want to do it small? Very often your relationship to the image changes when it's on paper. Just seeing it on paper is a really different thing than seeing it onscreen, but also, it can change depending on the size that you have it at.
So you have seen a lot of these images come out at different sizes. Do you have a sense of why we choose one size over another for some images? Amber you seem very positive about that idea. Amber: Well, I think one factor is just quality of the image, like if one is really grainy, then you are not going to want to print it. Ben: So if the image has noise or grain or other problems, you don't want to blow Ben: those up real big? Yeah. Amber: Right. Male Speaker: To show more detail. Ben: Show more detail. Absolutely, yeah. There are also times when, like a landscape image, you might want really large, because it's actually a landscape that you want to kind of be able to navigate.
Portraits can be nice large because they become more intense. At the same time, blowing up a portrait can make it too intense. Sometimes it's nice smaller. I think she has an interesting question. Blow that image up even larger, make it really big and it could be this really powerful intense image. At the same time it might just be better this size because she's got such this stare on her face. I don't know that I would want to encounter a really large version of her walking into a room. Konrad Eek: But one thing that's nice about that, if you look at--and then I think that up high it works really well--she's a little bit larger than life.
It's a slightly bigger than life size, and that's a real interesting line to cross is when you go larger than life size, all of a sudden the impact becomes really strong. And the first thing that comes to mind is something Richard Avedon's shows where he generally prints one and a half to two times life size on these huge four- and five-foot-tall prints where you're in the room with them and they just kind of take you aback because it's they are so realistic and they are so large. So size can give you this real in-the-face impact. Ben: So I think the lesson we want you to take away here is, we are all used to working at these little 8 x 10 sizes. And I said a little, but 8 x 10 sizes, and on your typical regular-size photo printer that's the biggest you can go, but as you move forward, experiment with larger sizes, and see if you can start to develop a sense of when you want to use it and when you don't, what images, what types of images work better at larger sizes and you know you can even go larger than this.
Female Speaker: I want to say one other thing. We have been sort of talking about the large prints. We might talk just also a minute about the smaller prints, and like this one here is calling my attention for a moment, is that sometimes when there is little, really small, little spaces that have intimate details in them, I like to look at those small. This kind of pulls me and then I look really carefully and examine every square inch of it. Ben: And that's the thing. That's another thing about print size is it's going to change how the viewer physically responds to your image. The smaller images, they are actually going to come up closer too and they are going to study fine detail.
A really large print is designed to be, or intended to be looked at from far away. They are not going to get right on top of it. So, on the one hand, you print images larger because they can hold lots of detail; on the other hand it might be the smaller image where they really examine every little hair and fine line. Konrad Eek: Another thing too that I notice, and we separated them out, but these lovely little horizontal kind of panoramic images, the camera was set to where it was only exposing panoramics, but by creating a format that's kind of unique, rather than kind of this three to two ratio that most of these are, if you change that a little bit, you can create a different rhythm and kind of create a space that is a little different than the viewer normally expects from photography.
You know, when I think about paintings, I don't think in standard sizes, but photography, I think a lot of people think of that way. And if you can kind of break that boundary and think about maybe a more unique way to frame the world, you can get interesting stuff. And one of the other things that I'd encourage you to do is, if you find an idea, like say that shape that you kind of like, explore it. Work with it for a while and try to build up enough images in that format, you can-- I always look at--you know if you have got an idea, do at least a dozen and kind of decide if it's worth pursuing real seriously.
Ben: All right! Cool. Female Speaker: Thank you.
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