Photography Tutorials

Start PRINTING your photos today | ESSENTIAL Tips and Tricks

Everything you need to know to start printing your photographs perfectly today! Whether you’re using a lab or you’re own printer I’ve got some tips to really help you out.

Printing your own pictures is a truly satisfying experience. It is the final step to creating an image and brings the work to life. I genuinely believe that photography is an art and when you print out a picture and hold it in your hand, it is difficult to argue that it is not. You can see and feel the amount of work that has gone into creating the image. It takes on a new life once you can physically hold it in your hand and becomes something special and meaningful.

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Imagine driving a great car. It is a decent experience. You drive around in it everyday and it is enjoyable and satisfying. Some people notice you, others do not. It is just like leaving your images in digital format. But every now and again, when the sun comes out, you take a drive down an awesome coastal road, beautiful girl/boy next to you, rolling with the top down; it is an absolutely magical experience and everyone takes note. That is the kind of feeling printing your work can invoke. It’s similar to the the normal process but also vastly more enjoyable and fulfilling.

With that picture in your mind, if you have not printed your work before, you really must. So how do we do it? To reproduce images accurately there’s a few steps to follow before we go ahead and print. This applies to whether printing using a lab or printing at home and will help to avoid being disappointed with the final results.

Brightness Adjustment

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Assuming Lightroom is the editing weapon of choice, (other editors are very similar) the first thing to do is create a virtual copy of the image. This acts as a print file without upsetting the original edit. Looking at images on a screen, the perfectly backlit monitor adds brightness to the image, even with a calibrated monitor, which creates and evenly illuminated picture. Once printed, the image is front lit and room light can be inconsistent and the image is at risk of looking dull. This can be compensated for by increasing the exposure by about a third to half a stop. Not too much to blow out the highlights, but just enough to give the brightness a little boost and avoid disappointment.

Lab Vs DIY

Having your own good quality photo printer is a very nice thing. I have been using the Canon Pro 10s which prints up to A3+ size. It produces prints that are equal to the quality of a lab and the results are exceptional. Cost is an issue though with replaceables like paper and ink and the upfront cost of the printer also needs to be taken into account. It is a personal decision for each photographer but you will probably ‘know’ when the time is right.

A lab can often work out cheaper if your printing is sporadic. Labs are also more versatile in terms of the size of print, the material you can print on and you can easily try out different papers. The downside is the lack of control. Results can often be disappointing and colour not accurate. Taking shipping or visits to the premises into account, time is also a factor and it takes longer to get the print in hand.

Exporting

Printing at home is easy because we can print directly from Lightroom using the print module. The higher end Canon printers also come with Canon Print Studio Pro. This Lightroom plugin gives ultimate control over your prints and is designed to work with those specific printers.

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The lab will not be able to read a raw file so the photo will need to be exported as an image file. Most good labs accept a wide range of file types to provide ultimate versatility to customers. However, to get best quality, the preferable file format to use is a TIFF file. These are uncompressed so no information is lost like it is with a JPEG. The file size will be much bigger but the results will also be more accurate.

Colour Accuracy

Accurate colour is important because we want our images to print out to match how they were edited on the screen. A beautiful orange and pink sunset will be ruined with a print containing a nasty green tinge. There is a lot happening to go from screen to paper, so we must use ICC profiles to make it easy. ICC profiles are plugins for photo editors that are based on the type of printer being used and the type of paper we choose. Once installed into software such as Lightroom we can enable soft proofing in the develop module, select the paper being used, and the ICC profile will simulate how the print will look on paper. Adjustments can then be made as required prior to print. Good labs should all provide ICC profiles by way of a free download. When printing at home, paper companies also provide them for your printer model.

Paper Type

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Generally there are three kinds of paper:

  • Glossy
  • Semi Gloss
  • Matt

The type and quality of the paper being used can massively affect the final print. It is very much a subjective thing and something that requires personal experimentation. As a general rule though I use a glossy finish for images that are heavily saturated and colourful. The glossy finish helps the colours pop and it works perfectly for the water drop images I create and gives them extra impact. 

Semi Gloss - I think is my favourite. I have been using Canson Baryta for years and it’s just a magnificent paper. It feels and looks extremely professional and the high quality paper works extremely well on a wide range of images. The majority of landscape prints I sell are printed on this.

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Matt or Rag paper - Good cotton rag paper is the best bet for a matt finish. Good rag papers will have a high DMax rating which means they hold the blacks very well. Rag papers are perfect for black and white images because it holds really strong contrast. They are also great for certain landscapes and colour portraits when a more muted fine art feel is required.

Borders

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Many photographers like to have a white border around the edge of their print. My preference though is to  print borderless whenever possible. Borderless printing maximises the size of the print and once it is in a frame, with a mount, the overall work has a border but also maximise the size of the paper. A border can be useful though. It lets you put a footnote on the print, makes it easier to handle and some people prefer the double border in the frame. Some printers also do not print borderless with certain types of paper like heavy rag paper and also when using a custom paper size. A border also makes it easier to attach to the mount. 

Printing is an in-depth topic and much of it is subjective. The best thing to do is to start printing and experiment for yourself. One things is for certain, you will not regret it once you are holding your physical work in hand.

You can also head over to store check out all the prints I have for sale. I would be honoured if you choose to buy one and it also helps me keep the lights on.

Landscape Photography Editing - High Cup Nick vlog images

Get an insight into how I edit my pictures in Adobe Lightroom from my latest landscape photography vlog at High Cup Nick in the Pennines. Get a free trial of Adobe Lightroom - https://www.firstmanphotography.com/get/photography-plan

Watch the vlog - https://youtu.be/5IC4xH2eSQo

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In this video I edit the images shot on my recent trip to High Cup Nick. The weather was poor and the trip was intended as a scouting mission but I am still pleased with some of the images captured.

We go through the edit in Adobe Lightroom of seven images and I discuss composition, camera settings and my thoughts I had whilst capturing the shots. I share my photo editing tactics to show you how I work in post production.

Some say that I edit my pictures very quickly and this may be true. I believe dong it quickly allows me to bring a natural feel to the edit employing the artistic and instinctive part of my brain rather than analysing things in too much detail that can sometimes lead to over processed images. I do often take a second look and tweak a couple of things and I also apply profiles and manage resolution when I print my images.

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Editing Landscape Photographs from a Canon 5D Mark IV

Landscape Photography on a Canon 5D Mark IV

The Canon 5D mark IV has changed the way that I shoot and edit my landscape photography. You will either love or hate this new trick.

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First Man Vlog - Click here

The Canon 5D Mark IV is an incredible camera. I reviewed it previously in an epic real world review - see the link below:

https://youtu.be/5HGxkQw5hto

The dynamic range of the Canon 5D Mark IV is a huge improvement over previous generations. What is truly impressive though is the amount of detail that can be pulled out of underexposed and shadow areas. Even a 2-3 stop increase in exposure will still lead to a relatively clean image, especially when shot at ISO 100.

Subconsciously I have started to use it to my benefit especially in some of the landscapes I have been shooting lately that contain huge dynamic range. Purposely underexposing the image as a whole has allowed me to capture the highlights with perfect exposure and then raise the shadows in post-production using Adobe Lightroom.

The main benefit is a huge saving of time with barely no downside. Normally capturing a scene with such wide dynamic range would require the use of multiple exposures by bracketing, HDR, blending or the faff and inconsistent results of physical ND grads. The Canon 5D Mark IV lets me do it with one exposure.

The speed at which I am now capturing landscape photography, and then later editing it in Adobe Lightroom has improved my overall work flow. I can now deploy that time on other things and really concentrating on the story I want to tell with my work. At the end of the day, that is what I am trying to do.