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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.
Test prints are a perfectly normal part of the printing process, whether you're printing black and white or color, whether you're running a fully color managed system like we'll see in later chapters or not, whatever you're doing, you're going to need to do test prints on images where tone and color are critical. However, test prints don't mean that you have to use a lot of paper and ink, because you don't have to do test prints at full size unless what you're hoping to test or proof is detail and noise. For tone and color there's no reason not to do smaller test prints, and there is a very easy way to do that in Photoshop.
I mentioned before that in the Print dialog you should not resize because that will mess up your sharpening. However, for the sake of a smaller test print where we don't care about sharpness, because we can assess it with smaller size anyway, then using the Print dialog box's resizing features are actually pretty handy. So I have got this image that I'm ultimately going to print out at 8x10, but I'd like to do a test print of it. So I'm going to do it in half size, and there is a very easy way to do that. I'm going to rotate my page by clicking on the landscape orientation button and then I'm going to scale it down.
I am going to scale it down to about 75%, and maybe I need to go little smaller. We'll go 70%. Now that drops it right in the middle of the page, which is no good, because the leftover page is still useless. But if I uncheck the center button, I can just click the image and drag it over to here, and that's using up about half of the page. So when I print this image, this side of the paper is the side that's going into the printer first, and it's the side that's going to come out first. So I can do my test print, look at this image, and if I want to do another test print I can make my adjustments configure the Print dialog box like this again, but this time feed this side of the paper into the printer first.
Or maybe I do this test print, find out the images fine, and move on to another image. That's fine I have still got another half page for test printing. This is a very easy way of getting test prints to assess tone and color without using lots of media and lots of ink. If I want to assess sharpness, detail and/or noise, then I still don't need to print a full size image. Let's say I'm going to print at 24x36, and I want to get an idea of how noisy or how good the detail is, I could simply take a 4x6 or 8x10 crop out of a way representative section of the image and print that.
For assessing tone and color I could take that 24x36 image and shrink it down to half size or even smaller. So just because you need to do test prints, there's no reason that you need to be going through lots of media and ink. Smaller test prints give you a perfectly reasonable way of assessing tone and color. Hopefully, if you follow the techniques in this course, and you're being careful about checking your tonal ranges throughout the different parts of your image where it's critical, then you're going to find that you don't need to do lots of test prints. I typically get away with just one test print, unless it's a very tricky image--say a low-light image or something like that--and when I do test print, I use these techniques to ensure that I don't have to use so much paper and ink.
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