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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: So the main difference between a photo printer like this and the office-type printer that you've got at home is going to be the type of ink that's in it. Ink comes in two broad categories. There are pigment inks and there are dye inks. Most printers that you find at the computer store or the office supply store are going to be dye-based printers. And they're going to be less expensive than pigment printers, but they are not going to be necessarily always as good as a pigment-based photo printer. Dyes have the advantage of a wider color gamut, meaning they can print a broader range of colors.
They are also often better for printing on glossy paper. Pigment-based printers have one really big advantage over most dye-based printers, which is archivability. I don't know if you've ever printed a page on your printer at home and left it sitting in the sun for a couple of days; you probably notice that it almost immediately fades. They are really not light fast. They will--they will fade in a matter of years pretty quickly. This printer, with the Epson K3 inks, on the right paper, these prints we've been making might go 200 years. Now that doesn't mean that like on January 1st 200 years after you print, suddenly the page is blank.
What that means is that there will be a color shift that will start to happen after the extension of its--whatever archival rating that particular paper has. Most papers don't go that long, but most prints out of this printer on decent paper will last over a hundred years. Now you may think, well, I'm going to be real tired of that picture in 100 years. But if you really want to sell fine-art prints, people are going to bother you about that. They are going to say, is this archival? does it work--is it a pigment-based printer? and that kind of thing. So for real fine-art photography, that's what you want to go with.
If you are trying to stay on a budget, there are some dye-based printers that are really good, that have archival ratings of 20-25 years. And again, they will give you a wider color gamut than what you can get out of this. They will also do really, really well at printing on glossy paper. Next thing to think about ink-wise is how many colors are in the printer. So we've got eight colors in here. Cyan, magenta, yellow, and black are what all printers start with. They are the additive primary colors of ink. They're what are used in finger painting class in elementary school.
Mix those together you can get a whole lot of other colors. This printer adds a few extra things: light black, light cyan, vivid light magenta, light-light black. So we've actually got three different blacks. We've got three different shades of gray. That's one reason this printer does so well on black-and-white prints. Those other colors--the light cyan, light vivid magenta, vivid light magenta--those all serve to shore up different weaknesses that the engineers found in the printer. So some of those colors are going to get you better fine detail in light areas.
You've clouds that don't have little dots in them. Some of the other colors are there to--are actually there for black-and-white printing sometimes. If you're printing black and white, they will mix in some of those extra color inks to prevent certain problems that can come up with black and white. Some older printers, when you do black--or even newer printers, when you print black and white, you'll notice that the overall tone of the print changes as you move from one type of light to another. We'll talk about that in a minute. So number of inks, it's not unnecessarily that oh, my printer goes to 11. It's not necessarily that more inks inherently means a better printer.
It's more that these inks can solve certain problems that you want to look for when you're evaluating a printer. If you're in the store looking at a printer, if you have got a chance to look at some prints, you want to look for things like fine detail in highlight areas. How black are the blacks, how well does it do with black-and-white printing, and what's the overall kind of color gamut. Don't get sucked into ooh, look at this real super-glossy print on super glossy paper from this printer. That's what I want. Because that super-glossy printer may do a lousy job with black and white. It may actually not have great blacks and that sort of thing.
So ink choice is going to be your first big demarcation when shopping for a printer and for fine-art photo printing, it's, right now, best to stay with a pigment-based printer. The good news about that is that narrows the choices down to only about four printers. There aren't a lot of pigment-based printers out there. So that's probably going to be the way you're going to want to go in terms of the ink. Any questions? I know I pretty said do this or not. Yeah Male Speaker: So the pigment is one that lasts longer? Ben: Pigment lasts longer. It's sturdier in terms of light-fastness.
It works better with more kinds of media. There is a difference between the way that it reacts to the paper compared to dye.
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