One aspect of photography that I’ve always struggled with is printing my photographic work. I would love if the image I see on my screen matched the image that gets printed but far too often that doesn’t seem to be the case and it’s frustrating. I’ve really noticed the difficulty in matching up the two when it comes to bright colors like reds, oranges and yellows. For example I’ve been trying to get a nice print of some tulips and having some real difficulty in getting the correct color of the reds where it doesn’t change hue or intensity.
It’s been incredibly frustrating and trying so when I saw that Craft & Vision was coming out with a new e-book called Making the Print – Printing Techniques For the Digital Photographer by Martin Bailey I knew I had to pick it up and see if it contained the secrets I needed to overcome my printing trials and tribulations.
I had really high expectations for this book and in many ways those expectations were met and in some ways I felt there were some missing pieces. When it comes to a great overview of the techniques and tools involved in making a print this book really excels. It does however focus entirely on printing via your own printers and not necessarily using a lab or service (which is what I currently do). But with that being said, the principles and techniques should work equally as well in each situation. I had just hoped that there would be some specific information related to off-site printing. However, the techniques Martin presents can be applied even if you utilize a lab or off-site service.
The e-book starts out talking about various printers and paper types and a few of the common problems seen when first starting out printing, namely that the prints come out looking too dark. I’ve seen this as well and the solution presented is to simply lower the brightness of your monitor. I’m using a Lacie 321 which has a built in color calibrator that automatically connects to the monitor and adjusts it to my specifications. As far as I am aware I cannot independently control the brightness of my monitor. Instead I have the option to increase or decrease the luminance setting which I’m not sure is the same thing.
This book does go into detail about using a color calibrator to not only calibrate your monitor but also your printer and camera. I was really hoping for big things in this section as I have had a lot of questions regarding color calibration and what settings should be selected but unfortunately they were not answered in this book. There was no mention of what gamma, white point or luminance settings should be selected or what each really means. But despite this there was still a lot of good useful information and if you are just getting started with color calibration and profiling you will definitely find this section very useful.
There is a great section on printer calibration using tools like the X-Rite i1Profiler but again, if you are using an online lab this is not something you would be doing as in most cases you would utilize the printer profile provided by the lab.
One section that I found really useful was the section on soft proofing. I’ve been soft proofing my images trying to get them to better match what I see on my screen and using the printer profiles I download from the various labs I print from. Recently I started using a technique of adjusting saturation on only those areas that are out of gamut and have been having some success. Currently I do all my soft proofing in Photoshop although I have heard that in the recent Lightroom 4 beta that is out that soft proofing is an option now. I’m looking forward to checking that out if that is indeed the case.
So while there were a few things with this book that didn’t meet my high expectations (namely profiling for external labs and monitor calibration) there were plenty of other things that did meet and exceed them and for me make this book a worthy purchase, especially for anyone that wants to start printing their own prints at home.
The book is broken into two sections, a getting started section that talks about the buying a printer, selecting paper, making a print, printing with borders and evaluating your work. The second section steps it up and goes into color management namely monitor and printer calibration, profiles, soft-proofing as well as discussing different types of papers and inks, large format printers and finally wraps up going into detail about gallery wraps.
I definitely recommend Making the Print for anyone that wants to print their own work. For anyone that wants to use a lab to print the information is still relevant but doesn’t’ specifically address that particular situation. But at only $4 for a limited time using code PRINT4 ($5 after January 21st) you really can’t go wrong if you have any interest at all in printing your photos.
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