Printing Revisited

Announcements.

This episode is nearly identical to the one going out on the Master Photography Podcast feed. I pick up where I start talking about the details of the print course I’m offering come April, 2019. Also, I’m doing a listener meet-up in Banff National Park area. I’ll be arriving on the 16thof Feb in the evening and ready to shoot sunrise on Sunday the 17th. I’ll be there through Tuesday morning. I hope to see some listeners there willing to brave the freezing conditions.

Topic: 

We’ve been talking a lot about printing recently for a few reasons. I’m developing an on-line course that will be available April 2 (I’m preventing myself from all the April fools jokes by releasing it on the 2nd, plus that’s also the birthday for a good friend of mine 🙂

Anyway, Canon has also recently offered a fantastic deal on 13×19 printers and many folks have decided to jump in on it. It can be a load of fun, and Canon and Epson both have done a great job of getting really good prints right out of the box. But there’s more we can do. There’s special processing techniques we can learn to make our prints the best they can be and that’s mostly what we’ll be talking about today.

Jeff, you got one of these printers, right? The Pixma Pro-100 I believe? (talk about this and the differences between it and my printer for a bit)

I got the Pixma Pro-10. And I use an Epson 4900 at work. So I use these two printers in the course I’m producing. Both my printers have Pigment based inks, which helps with the longevity of the print. Also, the paper should be archival quality and all that, but really, we should just go through my outline and I’ll describe things as best as possible.

But before we do that. I want to briefly describe the three-pronged approach I’m planning with this course. And I should note, this is going to be a paid course. I’ve been dumping countless ours into this thing and it’s been so much fun, but a lot of work too. I spent all of my Thanksgiving break and a bunch of my Christmas break recording these videos and I’m finally at the editing stage. It feels good to progress like this. 

Anyway, first off, it will be a video download course that you simply watch online. It’ll have additional notes and links to highly detailed websites that I didn’t write or anything. I just like to leave some things up to the absolute experts such as the accelerated testing of prints and the like. 

Then, I’ll also offer a virtual workshop online. This will be on top of the video download course. You’ll get a couple hours online with me helping you along the way if you get stuck or if you have questions you want to have answered directly. And you’ll be able to send me prints and I’ll offer feedback either as an audio recording or via Skype.

And finally, I’m offering in-person workshops for printing too. Where we’ll shoot during the morning and evening but during the middle of the day we’ll be learning printing and we’ll have some fine prints to take home with us.

And I’ve also had an interest in giving a presentation at a camera club. I’m thrilled to be able to pursue that option too. Please inquire if anyone is interested in that as well.

Additionally, I’d like to stress that these techniques we’re talking about will be great for those looking to print online. You don’t need your own printer to get value out of this course. From now until April, I’ll be getting some prints done with online printers and I’ll record the purchasing process and explain all the stuff we’re seeing there as well as do a print analysis so I can give you my thoughts on what I was expecting vs. what I got in return. I don’t plan to contact any printers for free prints or anything like that, I’m just going to pay like the rest of you. If that changes I’ll be sure to mention it in the videos I record on this topic.

Alright, let’s get to it.

To start off, I’d like to point out or emphasize that I do a mental separation in the processing steps for the images. The first stage is to think about the capture, processing and what-not in LR to get it to be the best technical file it can be. Then I work on creative edits where I do whatever I want creatively to the image according to my plans or goals for the image. And then finally, the print specific sizing and sharpening is at the end. When we judge the print we’ll have to come back to any of these stages to make modifications but by keeping it straight forward hopefully we can minimize too much of going all the way back to the beginning to make corrections.

Jeff. Could you lead us through this outline I have and ask whatever questions you have about these topics? (the items in color are the “hot topics” that may keep us to an hour or so in length 🙂

The OUTLINE

  1. Definitions
    1. Color space or gamut
    1. Color management
    1. ICC Profiles
    1. Pixels per Inch vs Dots per inch
    1. Paper options
  2. Equipment
    1. Computer requirements
      1. Minimum specs to have a good experience processing and printing
      1. Benefits if more ram, better processor
    1. Screen requirements
      1. Brief discussion about monitor types and designations regarding color spaces.
    1. Printer requirements
      1. Dye vs. Pigment Inks
      1. Size of printer
      1. Grade of printer (are ICC profiles available?)
    1. Software requirements
      1. LR and PS default
      1. Other software options
  3. Basic workflow overview
    1. Handling cards and getting images in Lightroom
    1. Editing and file management
    1. File formats to consider
      1. Tiff
      1. PSD and PSB
      1. JPG
    1. Discussion on Size Comparisons
  4. Color Management
    1. Profile devices
    1. Purpose of profiling your screen
    1. Profiling the screen
    1. Ensure ICC profiles are available
      1. Paper manufacturer websites
      1. Paper types search
      1. Printer type search
    1. Profiling the printer with the profile device
    1. Viewing areas to judge prints once printed
  5. Capture the images and edit out the trash
    1. Thinking out in the field (A discussion with sample images on TV)
      1. Camera settings
      1. Lens settings
      1. Tripod or hand-held
    1. Select which image(s) to work on
      1. Sharpness
      1. Exposure and Histogram
      1. Mood
      1. Overall technical assessment
  6. Process the image
    1. LR Processing, Global edits
      1. Lens Corrections (distortions and chromatic aberrations)
      1. White Balance, or convert to B&W, Rendering (landscape, standard etc)
      1. If HDR, do that process now
      1. Exposure and contrast
      1. Highlights, Shadows, Whites, Blacks (what I’m generally looking for here when I process)
      1. Sharpening
      1. Clarity (can have an effect on overall tonality on some images)
      1. Selective edits with LR
        1. Adjustment Brush
        1. Spot Removal
        1. Gradient
      1. Panoramas (if a multi-image pano, make pano first if HDR pano)
      1. Cropping (do it now or in PS)
    1. Photoshop processing
      1. Selective edits
        1. Use “non-destructive” editing methods
        1. Use masks to affect a limited area
      1. Compositing
        1. Panoramas
        1. Exposure blending/Luminosity Masking
        1. Quick fix for blown sunsets/sunrises
      1. Tone adjustments
        1. Curves adjustment layer
        1. Exposure adjustment layer
        1. Light shaping layer(s) or vignetting 
      1. Any other work necessary in PS
  7. Preparing for Print
    1. Thoughts about printing from PS vs. LR
      1. Show LR print options
      1. Talk about LR print limitations and why I prefer to print from PS
    1. Soft proof the image in PS
      1. Select proper profile
      1. Judge the difference between Relative Colormetric Rendering Intent or Perceptual
        1. Explain what’s happening with these two different rendering intents
        1. Show how they make no difference with some profiles (RGB) as all the color info fits nicely within the profile
        1. Relative usually great for landscape images
        1. Perceptual for more intense images.
      1. Make changes we think might be helpful, but really, it’s about testing and knowing what to do at this point, so maybe we’ll have to come back to this step.
        Go back to curves adjustments and the like to make those changes.
      1. Save As, Call this a “Print Master” or some such as this will be the file you always reference to make changes as needed, whether it color changes or sharpening changes.
    1. Sizing and cropping
      1. Flatten image
      1. Save as for new file name
      1. Use crop tool to crop and size to intended print size, we’d rather have PS do the sizing before the print driver does it.
      1. 360 ppi for Epson printers (or 240 or 180) (hardware dpi is 2880 or 1440, these recommended ppi’s are even divisibles of those numbers)
      1. 300 ppi for Canon printers (or 200) (hardware dpi is 2400 or 4800, these recommended ppi’s are even divisibles of those numbers)
    1. Print sharpening
      1. Use Unsharp Mask to sharpen. Talk about options
        1. Amount
        1. Radius
        1. Threshold
      1. Optional to use Smart Sharpen instead
      1. Make a copy layer a smart object to selectively sharpen
      1. Optional to use high pass layer for special effects, create a certain mood
      1. Save As, insert an identifier into the file name so you know which size print this is for.
      1. If you want different sizes, do sizing and cropping and print sharpening all over again from the original finished file.