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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.
So my monitor is profiled now. That's only the first half of the color management process, and I don't actually know yet if the monitor profile I've got is really right. The Spyder software gave me some ideas about it, but I need to test it out in a full color management workflow before I decide if maybe I need to go back and do another monitor profile. So I need to move on to the second half of my profiling process, which is to be sure that I've got profiles installed for my printer, more specifically for the printer and the specific type of paper that I want to print on.
You can't simply profile the printer, you have to have separate profiles for every type of paper that you want to print on. There are few different ways of getting those. First of all, when you install your printer driver software it should install a whole bunch of paper profiles for you. So, for example, Epson, this is an R2880 that we have back here. When I install the driver it installs ICC profiles for all of the Epson branded paper that they recommend for the 2880. In fact, in some cases it might install more than one profile for those different paper types, because the Epson has a couple of different black ink options that you can use.
After you get the Epson profiles installed or driver installed you might actually want to go to the Epson website because you will see on the 2880 support site or any of the other support pages for your relevant printer, you'll see a link to something called Premium ICC Profiles. Yes, Epson will give you better printer profiles than what they ship. I've never understood why they don't just ship the good profiles but if you go to the Epson's website you can get better profiles that you can then install, and that's really worth doing. No matter what type of printer you have you will probably get some stock profiles installed.
Now if you're printing on third-party paper you can probably go to the paper vendor's website and find ICC profiles. Hahnemuhle, for example, Moab, a lot of the other companies are very good about putting ICC Profiles up for download. So if you find that you really like a particular say Hahnemuhle paper, check out the Hahnemuhle website, you will need to go look by your specific printer type because every specific printer needs to be profiled for every type of paper, and you can download the appropriate profile for this paper that you'd like to use, install it, and then it will show up with the rest of your profiles.
So downloading is one option for getting profiles, another option is to make one yourself. I have here an X-Rite ColorMunki, which is another monitor profiler. I can use this for profiling my monitor, but I can also use it for profiling a printer paper combination. The way it works is through the ColorMunki software. I print out a test page, so this is a bunch of color swatches printed on the type of paper that I want to profile. If I need to profile ten different types of paper I'm going to do this whole process ten different times, once for each type of paper.
And so once I've got this target printed, and there are actually ultimately two pages to this target. I then follow the instructions and at the appropriate time it guides me to take the profiling gizmo and run it across these strips of patches. If I get it wrong, if I move too quickly or too slowly it'll ask me to do it again and then I move on to the next one. And what it's doing is it's going through then measuring each one of these colors, now it knows what it thinks each one of these colors are supposed to be so it can compare what it reads to what it expects and figure out where your printer goes off.
Another nice thing about the ColorMunki software is, I can go back later and refine a profile, I can actually hand it a specific image that I want to print, and it will analyze the colors in it and say, oh well actually I'm not too sure about how to print this color. Let me print out some swatches and have you read those, and I can then build up a very refined profile even for a specific document. So that's another option. Finally, a third option is to pay someone to make profiles for you. There are a lot of different websites that will do this. They will email you a target that you print and then you mail that target back to them, regular mail, and then they'll scan it and email you a profile back that you can install.
It's usually about 25 bucks to have one of these made, and if you think that's expensive, bear in mind that a ColorMunki will cost you $500. Granted that gets you monitor profiling, but you can pick up a monitor profiler for 300 bucks that leaves you $200 for paper profiles, 25 bucks a piece, that's eight profiles. They are usually very, very high-quality profiles, and odds are, you're probably not going to regularly use more than four or five different paper types. So the ability to profile paper at will may not actually be worth spending a lot of money on when for 25 bucks, if you decide there is a new type of paper that you want to use, and you use it for a few years that profile might be well worth the $25. So those are my paper profiling options.
I can download from a printer or paper vendor's website, I can build one of my own with a paper profiler, or I can go to an online website that will generate a profile for me. I've got to do one of those, I have to have a paper profile installed for the paper I want to print on before any of this color management stuff will work. So once I've got my monitor profile installed and my printer profile file installed I'm ready to start the soft proofing process.
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