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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.
While your image editor probably has many tools for making complex corrections and adjustments, it's very rare that an image can be corrected by a single global adjustment. If you've ever printed in a darkroom, you know that very often the only way to get a good print is to carefully dodge and burn specific areas of the print while it's exposing in the enlarger. Dodging and burning is simply the process of obscuring one part of the image or another to give that specific part a longer or shorter exposure.
Now, the practical upshot is that those areas get lighter or darker. You have to do this because there isn't always a single development exposure that's perfect for everything in the image. The exact same thing is true when we're printing digitally. As you saw in the last chapter, to get a good range of tones, nice contrast, and a silvery look, we need to be sure that we have some true black, some true white, and a particular spread of gray tones in between. The problem is that when we apply an adjustment to achieve this in one part of the image, we might blow out the highlights in another part or lighten up the shadows or darken the highlights or shadows.
So sometimes we have to perform a digital equivalent of dodging and burning to ensure that we maintain control of how much white and black there is in our image, and how the grays work in different areas of the image. Photoshop has specific Dodge and Burn tools, but for the most part, we're not going to touch those. I like them sometimes for performing retouchings, such as lightening bags under people's eyes. But for the types of edits we're going to do here, I don't recommend them, for three reasons. First, the edits they create are destructive.
That is, they permanently alter the pixels in your image. Destructive editing is a bad choice for making printing adjustments because if you do a test print and find out that your adjustment was too weak or too strong, there's no easy way to go back and change it later. Second, Dodge and Burn tools are somewhat blunt instruments and they can often leave bad color problems and artifacts in your image by the time you're done using them. But most importantly, the Dodge and Burn tools don't give us good feedback about the area we're editing. You've seen the importance of the histogram and if we perform our edits right, the histogram can continue to be our guide.
So, localized editing tools are going to be critical for all of the work we're going to do in the rest of this course. If you're working in Photoshop, then you'll need a familiarity with adjustment layers and layer masks. You can find lots of courses in the lynda library that cover these tools in detail. In the next few chapters, you're going to see me working with a few different students as we work to use localized editing tools to solve a number of different printing issues.
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