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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.
We've been talking about color, tone, localized adjustments, and image-editing, but of course, printing has some physical real-world concerns as well. You are making a physical object. And so will sometimes want to give some thought to how your print will ultimately be displayed and presented. I'm here in the framing studio of my friend a Colleague Konrad Eek. Konrad is a photographer, teacher, and framer, and he' s going to be joining me later in this chapter to talk about some matting in framing considerations that you may want to think about before you start printing.
Right now, though, I'm going to talk about Paper. It can, of course, be really frustrating to get an image adjusted so that it looks exactly how you want it on screen and then find it looking different when you print. Now hopefully, what you've been saying so far in this course is helping you get more predictable results. Ultimately, the biggest change you are probably going to see when your image hits the paper, though, is that the blacks in the image won't be as black as what you see on screen, and once your Black is off, the rest of your contrast will be messed up, and if you are working in color, your color saturation will change.
When you see a weak black in a print, your first impulse will probably be to go back to your computer and crank up the blacks by whatever means you prefer. But if your histogram is already showing black in your image, a further adjustment probably isn't going to help. In fact, it's probably going to make your image worse because as you crank the blacks further, you'll be dropping larger lower darker grays down into complete black. So now if you have got true black in your image file but you're not seeing a good dark black in your print, that is a function of your paper choice.
Some papers are simply better at holding a dark black than others. So paper choice is going to have a huge impact on your final image quality. For example, this print came rolling out of the printer, looks pretty good. I might be pretty satisfied with it until I see the exact same file printed on a higher-quality paper. Look at the difference in here. Really nice dark blacks in here as compared to here. I want that extra darker black is getting me is a much broader contrast range, and we can really see that when come at here. Look at the hands here.
I've got a much finer selection of intermediate gray tones in here. Overall, I am getting a more silvery look, thanks to all those extra grays that I'm getting here, and that's all the function of having a really nice dark black in this print. So while inexpensive paper might feel like a real score--especially when you compare it to what other papers cost-- you will pay an image quality cost for your price savings. Now T-MAX is the metric that is used to measure the black of a specific ink paper culmination. The higher the T-MAX number, the blacker the blacks that you will get.
Unfortunately, most vendors don't publish T-MAX specs for their papers. But a little Googling around will usually turn up reviews for specific papers. You will often find T-MAX scores that people have arrived at independently or at least a subjective assessment of the black capabilities of the paper. I'm starting this paper choice chapter with a discussion of blacks because you will usually make your paper choice based on image quality. There might be times when image quality won't be your primary concern, you might more focused on affordability or size for some particular presentation need.
But most of the time, image quality will be the way to choose a paper, and a paper's ability to hold a good black is going to be your key measure for judging paper quality.
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