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A Guide to Preparing Photographs for Print

Digital technology has brought with it many advantages to photography. It is much easier to capture the perfect photo without worrying about how many more shots you can take. This does present a small issue. Only having the images confined to the computer just isn’t good enough.

Whether it’s personal photos or for a client, we often want the best of our work as a physical print to display proudly in a photo frame or album. Now the solution isn’t as simple as clicking on the print button. You should prepare the photographs for print to get the best results.

Monitor Calibration

Before you do any kind of editing work, make sure you calibrate your computer monitor. This is an essential step to guarantee the colours you see on the screen will accurately translate when printing. There are hardware and software tools you can purchase to achieve accurate monitor calibration. Companies such as Datacolor and X-Rite make a range of display calibration devices to meet the needs of photography enthusiasts and professionals.

With your monitor fully calibrated, you should also set up the right environment before you get to work on the images. Ensure there is sufficient lighting when viewing and editing any photos. If you are sending your photos to a lab for printing, ask them for advice on the colour profile you should be using.

Photo Editing

For most photos, no matter how perfectly you took the shot, some light editing will help improve the final print version. Some basic options to consider are the image size, resolution, file type and colour spacing. Image resolution is best left at the default value to retain as much of the detail as possible. Though, you may need to slightly crop an image to have the correct aspect ratio for printing on your chosen paper size.

Sharpening the image can also improve the final look of the art print. This should be done as the last step in the editing process. But don’t forget to zoom in to 100% to accurately see the results. Adjust the sharpening effect until you are happy with the final result.

Some labs will also provide a soft-proofing profile. This allows you to see exactly what the image will look like once the lab prints it. Check the guidelines of the printing lab to make sure you give them correctly formatted images before uploading the files.

Test Printing

You’ve done all the hard work, but there’s one last thing to do before sending all the photos for printing. Any reputable lab will send you a few sample prints for free so you can check the final look of the prints. The last thing you want is to have a large number of photos printed, and then to notice a small problem that could have easily been fixed. This will also let you see what the different types of paper are like, before choosing one for the final printing.

With just a little planning and preparation, you can make sure you get perfect looking photograph prints every single time.

This is a post by Jamie from Digital Exposure whom specializes in product photography for advertising and commercial purposes.

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