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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.
If all of this talk of resampling and resolution and pixels and print size has you all confused, don't worry; it's all going to come together in this movie. You've seen this image before. This is a student image shot by Amber Griffith. It has been edited. We are now at the point of the workflow where we need to resize it before we pass it on to our sharpening process and then finally, out to print. Our goal here is to produce an 8 by 10 inch image. There are a number of different ways of resizing in Photoshop.
I can actually resize with the Crop tool, as you'll see later in this chapter. I can resize with the Print dialog box, which you should pretty much never do. Or I can resize by going to the Image menu and choosing Image Size, which brings up Photoshop's Image Size dialog box. This is a great tool for resizing, but also for understanding the interrelationship of resolution, print size, and pixels, and for seeing where resampling fits into all of this. So let's take a look at what we have got here.
This is showing me that this image has pixel dimensions of 4288 pixels wide by 2848 pixels high. It's also showing me that currently the image will print at 17.8 inches wide by 11.8 inches high, because it has a resolution of 240 pixels per inch. In other words, if I take 4288 pixels and line them up so that there are 240 of them per inch, the resulting line will be 17.8 inches long.
Remember, resolution is not something that's inherent to an image. It is simply a decision that you can make and that you can change your mind on at any time for how closely pixels are spaced together. A really important thing to pay attention to here in the Image Size dialog box is this little icon over here that's showing me that all three of these parameters are linked. I cannot change Width without changing Height and Resolution and vice versa. So, I had said that I wanted to ultimately create an 8 by 10, so I am going to type 10 here into my Width and right away, a few things happen.
My Height goes to 6.6; it changed because Width and Height are linked. They are linked so as to preserve the original aspect ratio. So this is great. My image is not going to distort during my resizing. Resolution went up to 428 because I have reduced the width of my image. The only way I can go down from the 17 inches I was at before to the 10 inches that I want is to pack the pixels closer together and so that gives me an increase in resolution. I cannot change any of these without changing the other, so let's remember that I had said I want to print at my printer's native resolution.
I am printing on an Epson printer, so my native resolution is 360, so if I were to enter 360 here, my print size will change again because these are all linked. Note that when I put in a Width of 10, my Height goes to 6.6. I said I wanted an 8 by 10. It turns out that this image with its 3 to 2 aspect ratio doesn't actually scale exactly at 8 by 10. I am not going to worry about this because I am having a custom mat cut. I just know that I need it to fit in an 8 by 10 inch window, and so this will still work for me just fine.
If I want to get it to a precise 8 by 10, then the image is going to have to be cropped, and we'll look at how to do that later in this chapter. For now, I want to solve this problem of my resolution. I have got the size that I want, but I can't get the resolution. That's because right now the number of pixels in the image, which I can see here, is not editable. I can't change these numbers. That means I can't discard any extra pixels that I have to get my size and resolution down to where I want it. To do that I need to check the Resample Image box.
Now, we talked about this earlier. When I check it, a number of things happen. First of all, these fields become editable and second, Resolution is no longer linked to Size so I can change it independently of my size. Notice that these two, Width and Height, are still linked. If I want, I can uncheck Constrain Proportions and that link will go away. I can now edit Width independent of Height and inevitably end up distorting my image. So I am going to be sure and keep that checked.
Resampling is the process of going back to my original set of pixels and just taking a new little sample of them that might be smaller than what I started with. That's what we are going to do here. When I checked Resample Image it went back to my original configuration here of 17 by 11 at 240. So I am going to shrink that down to 10. Notice Resolution is not changing because it's not linked in here anymore, and I am going to bump this up to 360. Now I've got my parameters exactly how I want them for printing. I've got the size that I want. I've got the resolution that I want.
And if I go up here and look at my pixel counts, I can see they are lower. These numbers become very important. I can see that after dialing in all this stuff I have ended up with an image that is smaller than where I started, so that's a downsizing. Downsizing is a very safe resizing to perform because it's not going to mean that Photoshop has to create anything. Let's say I was going out to a fancy typesetting machine that wanted 1200 pixels per inch. If I type that in here, now when I look, I see that my 10 by 6 at 1200 has resulted in a substantial increase in pixel count, so now I need to start worrying about upsizing.
We are going to talk about that in a later movie. Just be aware that anytime that I'm typing some values in here, it's a good idea to, before I'm finished, go up and make sure that I am getting the downsizing that I'm expecting and not actually going up. Again, there is nothing wrong with going up. You just need to know how to do it, and that's a topic for another movie. So 10 by 6 at 360. The last thing to consider is my method of interpolation. When it comes time to throw out pixels there are lots of different ways that Photoshop can choose to do that, and some are better in some cases than others.
If I pop this open, I see all of these different things. By default, Photoshop CS6 will be set on Bicubic Automatic. That means it is automatically going to choose between Bicubic Sharper, which Adobe thinks is best for reduction, or Bicubic Smoother, which Adobe thinks is best for enlargements. So it will recognize that I'm going down and set itself to Bicubic Sharper. If you're using a version of Photoshop earlier than CS6, you may not have Bicubic Automatic. If you are using a version that's way, way earlier than CS6, then you may not have Bicubic Sharper and Bicubic Smoother, in which case you want to just go for a straight Bicubic interpolation.
Adobe claims this is best for smooth gradients, so even if you're using CS6 on Bicubic Automatic, there might be times when you want to experiment with a Bicubic reduction, particularly if you've got really smooth gradients in your skies and you are shooting lots of chrome or something like that. Bilinear and Nearest Neighbor you can just ignore; those are not well suited for resizing photos and remember that Photoshop is used for more than just editing photos. If you're dealing with illustrations or business graphics or something, then these come into play. So, most of the time you are just going to leave it set on Bicubic Automatic.
If you are using a version that doesn't have that, you're going to manually choose Sharper or Smoother. If you are using a version that doesn't have those, you are going to use Bicubic. Some interesting things happen when you start using Bicubic for scaling upwards, and we'll talk about those when we get to those movies later in this chapter. So I am going to set for Bicubic Automatic, and I am ready to go. I hit OK. Photoshop is going to think for a bit. It's going to toss out some pixels and my size will go down. Now if I go back to the Image Size dialog box, you can see that I am 10 by 6 at 360, my Pixel Dimensions are 49.3 million pixels, so I've lost a whole bunch of pixel data in this image.
Because of that, I'm now going to do a Save As. I don't want to save over my original version because I don't want to give up those original pixels that I had, because there may come a time later when I decide that I want to, say, maybe enlarge my image or not go all the way down to 8 by 10 at 360. It would be stupid to enlarge from this reduced-pixel-count image when I have another copy in image that has more data in it. So anytime I do a resizing, I Save As to write out a version of that specific size.
That way I've always got my original image with my edits in it at full pixel count, and I can do other interpolations from there, which is a safer way to work. So that's resizing an image size. You are going to do that a lot. Every image that you print will need to be sized, so you'll be spending a lot of time here in the Image Size dialog box. Remember, the real critical things are to pay attention to whether you're set for resampling. And if you get confused, just follow the little linking icons over here and that will help you understand the interrelationship between the different fields.
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