10 ways to print better photos.
There are many steps in the capture of images which will improve the quality of the printed output. We have selected these 10 key stages which if observed correctly will improve the quality of your digital prints. Some of the steps are prior to exposing the image, some of the steps are in the post process steps, and some are specific to the printer and medium being used. Following the 10 steps to print better photos will improve the quality of your output.
Ensure that your digital SLR is set to its highest resolution.
Setting the camera at its highest resolution will take up more space on your memory card but ensure that you are creating the highest quality pictures possible. Each camera will have a different way of setting it up to shoot at its highest resolution. Consult your specific user manual for your camera to determine how to change your image quality to the maximum setting. This ensures that the original image is a big as possible, this leaves a greater margin for post process cropping as well as allowing you to print the images clearer to greater sizes of paper.
Shoot your images in your Camera's Raw mode.
Most digital SLR cameras come with the ability to record the images which are taken into different formats. Most people are familiar with the .jpg or j-peg format. J-peg is known as a lossy or compressed format which is designed to save file space on your memory cards. The amount of space that the image takes up is dependent on the image resolution that you are set to but more importantly the file format. Some cameras will have the option to expose the image exactly as what is seen on the cameras CCD or CMOS, recording the amount of light that has hit each pixel, or photo site. A raw file is essentially the data that the camera's CCD or CMOS chip recorded along with some additional meta data information tagged on which may include the camera settings and other technical information A JPG file is one that has had the camera apply linear conversion, matrix conversion, white balance, contrast, and saturation, and then has had some level of potentially destructive compression applied. For many applications image quality is more than sufficient when shooting in .jpg format, the images are smaller, transmit quicker if emailed or when transferred, Many photographers don't have the time or inclination to post-process their files.
Sharpen your photographs.
Most of the time photographers upload their pictures or print them the way they were captured by their digital cameras. You may have heard of a post-processing technique called "Sharpening" but are unsure at how to go about it. Most consumer cameras apply sharpening internally on the camera, however DSLR's allow the user to make the choice and shoot naturally, resulting in an image that appears "soft" or even slightly "out of focus. Sharpening for screen display and sharpening for prints are also two different propositions and you obviously need to know what medium you are sharpening for. What is sharpening? Sharpening is enhancing the edges of an image. This edge enhancement technique is called un-sharp masking and involves isolating the edges in an image, amplifying them, and then adding them back into the image.
Calibrate your Printer, Monitor and Scanner to the ink and paper type in use.
Your monitor is the place where your post production work is completed and if your monitor / printer combination is not calibrated then you are quite possibly not repeating on the printer the colours that you see on the monitor. Every time that you insert a new ink cartridge into your printer it is advisable to calibrate the printers print head. Performing this calibration keeps the print heads aligned and capable of printing accurate images.
Clean your printer’s print head if image banding is apparent.
When an inkjet printer ink dries out due to lack of use or foreign objects in the print head image results will not be good with banding of the image apparent. Printer manufacturers tend to include a cleaning utility as part of the print driver which can be used if the print quality declines or the Nozzle check indicates blocked nozzles.
Cleaning print heads If a nozzle check indicates that a cleaning is needed, or if the printer is completely clogged, clean the print heads. The process removes blockages in the nozzles. Run additional nozzle checks since sometimes cleaning must be performed more than once to be successful. Some printers have more than one mode to clean the heads. If so, use the deep cleaning mode if the standard cleaning mode isn’t sufficient. Don’t do unnecessary cleanings, as the use up ink.
Select the Correct Printer Paper For The intended purpose.
Your choice of paper plays an important role in determining the final "look" of a photographic print. Matte prints feature extremely low reflectivity while glossy prints are highly reflective this can vary the final look of the photograph dependent upon the composition of the image and the type of photographic paper in use. There are different types of paper available on the market including Matte, semi matte, pearl, luster and glossy. Gloss Finish Photographic Paper The coating on photo papers gives your printed photos the look and feel of photographic prints. Because the coating keeps the paper from readily absorbing the ink some glossy papers dry slowly. However, quick-dry gloss finishes are common today. Gloss finish photographic papers may be described as high gloss, gloss, soft gloss, or semi-gloss, each reflecting the amount of shine. A photographic paper described as Satin is a less shiny coated finish. Images produced on glossy photographic paper tend to be favoured by photographers learning their art as the images tend to be livelier than when printed on matte photographic paper Semi gloss or Satin Finish Photographic Paper It provides a sort of middle ground between glossy and matte paper produces vibrant images with low glare and a soft glossy finish for photo lab quality prints. The semi gloss finish makes it easier to see your image under a strong light as well as not picking up as much dirt as the glossy version Matte Finish Photographic Paper Images printed on photo matte papers or non glossy photo papers appear soft and non-reflective, not shiny, making this type of photographic paper suitable for black and white photographic images. Matte finish papers are not the same as regular inkjet finish papers. Matte finish photo papers are thicker and are specially formulated for photos. Many matte finish papers are printable on both sides.
Ensure that the printer is set correctly for the paper in use.
Printer manufacturers spend lots of money developing types of printer paper and printer ink in the hope that you will purchase your consumables from them ensuring a constant amount of money coming in after development costs. In fact they may even sell you the printer at a below cost price to entice you in as a consumable user. The printer manufacturer will make it very easy through the printer driver for you to select the paper from their range as part of the printer driver options ensuring it as easy as possible for you to obtain the best results possible. Moving away from your printer manufacturers
Make sure you are printing on the correct side of the paper.
Speciality ink jet photographic paper and fine art papers are complex in their construction and can have many layers to capture and hold inks. The papers may be sided and may or may not look different but results are dependent upon which side that you print on to. If you're using photo quality glossy print paper, always make sure that you are printing to the glossy side of the paper.
Try not to touch the print side of the paper.
Do not touch the print side of your photographic paper with your fingers. Doing so may prevent you from making clean prints and cause your ink to not adhere to the photo paper.
Allow sufficient time for the printed image to dry.
When printing digital photographs it is worthwhile remembering that photographic paper is fragile. Most printer and paper manufacturers advise to let prints sit for 24 hours before handling or placing another print on top of them It is best practice to allow digital photographic prints enough drying time before placing the finished photo into a frame. The drying time of the print will vary with each image, local environment, the photo paper type. Print s may leave the printer in a dry-to-touch condition however there will still be some residual moisture that should be allowed to evaporate before framing. it is best to leave the printed images out for 24 hours before framing them as any residual moisture can condense upon the glass in the frame.