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Exploring why we print

From: Inkjet Printing for Photographers

Video: Exploring why we print

In the film era there was no choice about it: you had to print your pictures. Prints were simply the only way that you can see the photos you'd taken. In the digital era, obviously things are very different. You can see your image on your camera as soon as you take it. You can connect your camera to a big TV and look at your images there. You can dump the images into your computer and look at them on your monitor, and from there, you can push them to websites and smart phones and tablets and so on. Images today are very malleable and dynamic. We can shove them around the world, and we can sort and filter them to combine them with other images.

Exploring why we print

In the film era there was no choice about it: you had to print your pictures. Prints were simply the only way that you can see the photos you'd taken. In the digital era, obviously things are very different. You can see your image on your camera as soon as you take it. You can connect your camera to a big TV and look at your images there. You can dump the images into your computer and look at them on your monitor, and from there, you can push them to websites and smart phones and tablets and so on. Images today are very malleable and dynamic. We can shove them around the world, and we can sort and filter them to combine them with other images.

We can deliver them to an audience of millions, and all without ever having to print a single image. Because of this, some people never bother printing their images at all. I am not going to bother with explaining the virtues of easy digital distribution. I think most people are probably already amazed by how quickly and easily we can all send images electronically. With that said, I am going to be sounding like an old fogey and say that I just don't get it when people tell me they don't print. Perhaps I'm showing my age, but to me an image is not finished, it's just not actually an image until it's on paper. And that's silly, you might be saying.

Lots more people can see it if you put it on the web, and that's true, but there are many other advantages to paper. Obviously, a print can be framed and hung on a wall, and it doesn't require special gear to look at it. Depending on the size of your printer, you might be able to get a much bigger print than you can ever see on a computer monitor. And as an image is printed larger, your relationship to it changes. Bigger prints become landscapes that you interact with in a very different way than you do when you view a smaller print or an image on a screen. Prints are tactile. You can manipulate them with your hands. You can frame them. You can move them around.

They have weight, just like the other items in your house. To me, the image somehow becomes more real when it's on paper than what it's simply a string of electrons. And don't get me wrong; I've nothing against electrons. It just, they don't seem as solid and sturdy as wood pulp does. If you're only viewing your images onscreen, you'll quickly run into reproduction issues. No two monitors look the same, so when you send an image to someone, you never really know what it's going to look like on the screen they view it on. A print lets you fix the image the way you want it and ensure that the viewer sees the image as you intended it.

Ultimately though, I think the most important reason the print has to do with the color and tone. We live our day-to-day lives in a world of reflected color. Light bounces off of things and into our eyes. This is the type of light we see when we go out shooting, and this is the type of light that we capture with our cameras. When you view an image on a computer screen-- be it an LCD monitor or CRT--you're looking at transmissive color. Colored light is shined directly into your eyes. This creates color with a very different quality and feel than what we see in the real world, than what you saw when you were out shooting.

The reflected color that we see in the real world, the color that our visual system evolved to see, has a particular deepness and richness to it. To me, reflected light feels like it's built on a dark base of some kind. Brighter colors are built up from darker ones, making for world where color is rooted in shadow. By comparison, the light that comes from your monitor is very bright; it lacks that deep rich quality of real world light. It feels to me like color that's brought down from bright highlight tones rather than built up from dark shadow tones. To me it looks overwrought somehow, and flat and kind of phony.

Because the real world is seen in reflected light, no picture on a monitor can ever really look like the real world, because a monitor is always transmissive light. Only when the image gets on paper, where we return to reflected light and the colors look like the colors in the real world, only then can the blacks look like the blacks that we see in the real world. It took me quite a few years before I began to recognize these differences between reflected and transmissive light, so if what I just said sounds completely silly, just let it simmer for a while. Try to take note of the quality of the color that you see in real life, versus what it looks like on a monitor.

At some point I expect your sense and preference might shift a little bit. When it does, the good news is that you'll have a very different relationship to, and appreciation of, color. The bad new is you're going to find yourself having to buy a lot of printer ink.

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This video is part of

Image for Inkjet Printing for Photographers
Inkjet Printing for Photographers

68 video lessons · 13384 viewers

Ben Long
Author

 
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  1. 9m 18s
    1. Welcome
      1m 50s
    2. Exploring why we print
      4m 3s
    3. Understanding what you need for this course
      3m 25s
  2. 13m 29s
    1. Why inkjet printing?
      4m 36s
    2. Understanding ink types: Dye vs. pigment
      4m 26s
    3. Discussing considerations for black and white
      1m 48s
    4. Reviewing the features
      2m 39s
  3. 1h 1m
    1. Printing and your workflow
      3m 3s
    2. Printing black-and-white photos
      6m 49s
    3. Understanding the histogram
      7m 37s
    4. Understanding what localized adjustments are used for
      2m 38s
    5. Explaining the histogram with a practical example
      6m 51s
    6. Making a localized adjustment in a practical example
      5m 30s
    7. Evaluating a localized adjustment in a practical example
      2m 29s
    8. Refining a localized adjustment for effect
      13m 36s
    9. Making a gradient adjustment
      6m 47s
    10. Paying attention to viewing conditions
      4m 49s
    11. Summing up
      1m 50s
  4. 54m 36s
    1. Understanding pixels, printer dots, and resolution
      2m 44s
    2. Understanding resolution
      2m 33s
    3. Defining resampling and interpolation
      3m 41s
    4. Understanding where resizing fits into your workflow
      2m 12s
    5. Defining native printer resolution
      2m 39s
    6. Understanding the relationship between viewing distance and print size
      2m 1s
    7. Reducing image size in Photoshop
      9m 11s
    8. Cropping to a specific size and resolution using Canvas Size
      4m 34s
    9. Cropping to a specific size and resolution using the Crop tool
      5m 15s
    10. Enlarging an image in Photoshop
      7m 7s
    11. Creating a triptych
      3m 55s
    12. Creating a triptych using Automator on a Mac
      4m 5s
    13. Exploring the aesthetics of print size
      4m 39s
  5. 1h 17m
    1. Understanding how sharpening works
      3m 18s
    2. Sharpening in JPEG mode
      1m 26s
    3. Exploring sharpening workflows
      3m 47s
    4. Sharpening in Camera Raw
      6m 17s
    5. Looking at noise reduction
      1m 46s
    6. Sharpening output with Smart Sharpen
      11m 52s
    7. Understanding selective sharpening
      4m 25s
    8. Sharpening through an edge mask
      7m 17s
    9. Reviewing high-pass sharpening
      4m 30s
    10. Applying aggressive sharpening
      8m 53s
    11. Exploring advanced sharpening techniques
      9m 7s
    12. Exploring the Print dialog
      11m 35s
    13. Proofing at smaller sizes
      3m 3s
  6. 53m 9s
    1. Exploring how color works
      2m 5s
    2. Reviewing color models
      2m 56s
    3. Defining gamut and color space
      9m 55s
    4. Reviewing when colors go out of gamut
      4m 54s
    5. Configuring Photoshop's color settings
      5m 47s
    6. Changing color space in Camera Raw
      4m 7s
    7. Working in an advanced color space
      6m 13s
    8. Assigning a color space in Photoshop
      2m 20s
    9. Correcting a color image
      9m 17s
    10. Printing a color image
      3m 30s
    11. Evaluating the print
      2m 5s
  7. 34m 46s
    1. What is color management?
      4m 16s
    2. Profiling a monitor
      8m 45s
    3. Evaluating a monitor profile
      4m 37s
    4. Exploring paper profiles
      5m 17s
    5. Understanding soft proofing
      11m 51s
  8. 24m 33s
    1. Understanding how paper quality affects the appearance of black in prints
      3m 26s
    2. Looking at third-party papers
      3m 46s
    3. Looking at paper finish
      3m 44s
    4. Understanding paper traits
      6m 31s
    5. Discussing paper choice and presentation
      7m 6s
  9. 23m 18s
    1. Printing a black-and-white image
      11m 45s
    2. Printing a color image
      11m 33s
  10. 1m 16s
    1. Goodbye
      1m 16s

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