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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: All right, Amber. We have got the Levels adjustment in place that's adding some extra punch and some whiteness to the image. In the process of it brightening these things up, it's blown out the fingers here. It looks to me like this has maybe lost something, and the fingertips here gone. Ben: So what we're going to do is use the layer mask that's built into the adjustment layer to try to constrain the effects of this brightening. So right now the mask is completely empty. Wherever there's white, that shows that it's like an open stencil, but the Levels effect is going through to the image.
Ben: So we would like to block off the mask in the places where we don't want it brightened. We could do it at the other way; we could fill the mask with black and paint into the mask probably where the areas that we do want brighter, but that would be more painting and-- Amber: Yes. Ben: Personally, I'm lazy. Amber: A lot more time. Ben: Okay, so grab a paintbrush. Amber: Okay, right. Ben: And we'll make sure we have black paint because we are wanting to fill the mask up. It's also not a bad idea to checkup here and make sure that these are set to full strength. Amber: 100%. Ben: Yeah. So make sure the mask is selected, which it is; just click on it.
And now start painting over these areas. Aha! It's coming back. Yeah, that's good. So get his other fingers. So as you're doing that, we're filling up the mask so that the brightening effect doesn't hit those areas. Ben: And I am sure you necessarily have to completely... Amber: Yeah. Ben: But we'll leave it like this for now and we'll go back and put some highlight back on. Amber: Okay. Ben: Go ahead and hit that one. Amber: Completely? Ben: Mhmm. Ben: Yeah, go ahead and completely cover those up; because what we can do--we need to get this hand.
What we can do here is where there's white in the mask we're getting full brightening; where there's black in the mask we're getting none at all. If we paint into the mask with gray or with a semi-opaque brush, we'll get something in between the full effect of the Levels adjustment and no effect at all. Ben: So let's try like 50%. Grab one of these middle-gray shades here, and now maybe--well, that brush size is okay. Let's just hit that highlight right along the top of his finger there, and that's brightening up a little bit, because we're painting into it not with the black but with the lighter shade of gray, and so that's letting some of the Levels adjustment go through.
What do you think? Do you want more highlight on there or do you like that? Amber: I think it needs a little more. Ben: Okay, then go to a lighter shade of gray. There we go. I think you are right. Now, have we lost detail there, or do you think that's okay? Amber: I think there's enough detail. Ben: Okay. Amber: Highlights. Ben: Cool! Any other fingers that? Amber: Yeah. I'd say this one needs it. Ben: Okay. Good. And maybe one on this hand over here. Amber: Yeah, like right here.
Ben: Now as you're painting, Photoshop is updating the little mask icon over here, so you can see that you have got these little spots of black and gray going in there. Amber: Yeah. Ben: I'm wondering about these, have these blown out? Amber: No. Ben: A little? Amber: Also the windows. Ben: Yeah, comparing this to the print. You could go over those with a little bit of light gray and see what happens. I like them brighter. I don't want them to go back to where they were before. Or maybe just leave them alone. I don't know. Do you have any opinion.
Amber: I think they're okay. Ben: You think they're okay. Amber: There is still a little detail-- Ben: Okay, then leave it there, cool. All right, let's go into the other images-- Amber: Okay. Ben:--that also needed some repair. Ben: Here's Haley's reflection so what's wrong here? Amber: The hand. Ben: The hand. Anything else? Amber: A little bit of the window around her face. Ben: Yeah. Ben: And if I look up here, I see there was detail out here Amber: Yeah, like here. Ben: And that's gone here, yeah. All right, so you're going to need to patch those up. Amber: Okay. Ben: So what you're going to do? Amber: Go to black. Ben: Very good. It's a good idea to start with black just to see what it's like having no effect at all and then if you decide that it needs to be broadened a little bit, go to a lighter shade of gray, and you can start painting some brightening back in there.
Now, one thing is, a lot of times it's easy to get uptight about, oh, I have to paint perfectly around this thing or that thing. You don't. You can cheat these masks like crazy, especially if you've got a big soft brush. Here you go. Wow! There was a lot of detail down from there. I think that looks good. Now that's a tough call. Amber: I kind of like that lighter. Ben: I agree with you. Amber: I really regret that decision. Ben: So let's undo. Amber: Okay. Ben: Yeah, that actually adds a lot. Amber: I like it. It kind of balances a lot.
Ben: Yeah. Okay, cool. Let's go into your last one. Amber: Okay. Ben: So this one doesn't really need that much. It's just a question of, is that too bright? Amber: I'm trying it out. Ben: Okay. Drop a mask on it and let's see what happens. Ben: Hmm, it brought back this line that we didn't even know was there. What do you think? Amber: I would be fine with it either way.. Ben: All right, well let's look at it again the other way. We can't undo now because you clicked twice, but you painted black in here before, which has stopped up that part of the mask. If you switch to white, you can now open the mask back up again.
I almost feel like that line's distracting. Amber: Yeah. Ben: That it's nice without it. Ben: That she's crawling out of the nuclear blast that's plainly going on out. Amber: It's like the light is pushing her. Ben: Yeah, the light's pushing her inside. That's cool. All right, I think the next thing is let's print these out and see how they compare to Ben: our original. Amber: Okay.
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