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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Print And Share Your Photos

Liberate your best images from their digital prison by making prints that you can show and share

The ultimate expression of a fine photograph is a well-crafted print that's framed and illuminated properly.

Probably 90% of my images live on my hard drives and never manifest themselves in the non-digital world. However, every now and then I get an image that I feel should be printed and shared. Taking an image from the realm of the digital to the physical can be a complex undertaking. It has taken me about a decade to hone in on what makes a great print and what display techniques work best for prints in homes and offices.

The good news is that printers are getting better every year. In the early days of prints from desktop inkjet printers, you could almost watch prints fade before your very eyes. The dye-based inks didn't have the longevity needed to make fine-art prints. When the Epson pigment ink-based printers were introduced and made affordable back in the 1990s, the world of digital printing finally opened up to photographers. This is when I became enamored again with photography. The ability to develop images on the computer and then print them without a darkroom launched a new career and changed my life.

My initial attempts at printing were somewhat disappointing. I realized that before I could press the print button, I had to start at square one learning about color management, papers, monitor calibration, metamerism, printing technology and ink longevity. Thanks to some excellent instruction available at various photo workshops, I was able to acquire the skills necessary to make my print output match my computer monitor. Printing skills represent an entirely new learning curve above and beyond digital image processing.

I now use an Epson Stylus Pro 11880 60-inch-wide printer powered by an ImagePrint RIP to create all my prints. While not everyone has the need for a 60-inch-wide printer, the technology is available to get wonderful archival prints from smaller affordable inkjet printers. I'm partial to the Epson line of printers, but I know excellent printers are also made by Canon and HP, among others. For the price of less than a nice new lens, you can acquire a fine art-worthy, pigment-ink printer from one of these companies and set off on a learning adventure that ultimately will help you free some of your images from your hard drive. Of course, if you don't have the time or inclination to do your own printing, there are many great printing services available that can print your image file for you. It's wise to develop a relationship with one of these services so you can work with them to get the best output for your images.

I encourage everyone who takes one of my workshops to pick at least one image from the workshop and commit to printing it on paper and framing it. You can master the printing learning curve by taking one of the many online courses available now. I think Michael Reichmann and Jeff Schewe have done a great service to the photographic community by making their "Camera to Print & Screen" videos available. This series of over 40 videos will give you the knowledge needed to make your own fine-art prints.


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