Colorado Aspens | James Brandon

Ask James – Printing Images

In Ask James by JamesB4 Comments

Hi James

I would like to know how to go about printing my photographs.   Do you do it from lightroom and how you size them, do you sharpen it for printing etc.   I would like to start printing my photographs and not sure where to start.

Regards

Shireen

There’s a very sharp line in the sand in the photography community when it comes to printing images. Some pursue printing their own images as an art form in and of itself, while others are perfectly content letting someone else handle it. I fall into that second camp. I’ve never been able to convince myself to purchase a massive printer so I can print my own images or dive into all the various minutia of fully preparing an image for print and making it turn out exactly like it appears on screen. I’m perfectly ok with admitting that printing is not a skill I possess and instead trusting the fine folks at places like Bay Photo to worry about all that. I take photos for a living, those guys print photos for a living.

That said, there are still things we must do to somewhat prep an image for print. First off, I don’t use Lightroom at all. I do basic processing in Lightroom, finish the image in Photoshop and then there are a few steps I take to make sure the print will look great.

  1. Go over the image with a “fine toothed comb” and make sure it is flawless. This means removing all chromatic aberrations, dust spots, blemishes…anything that distracts from the story the image is trying to tell.
  2. Make sure the image is converted to the correct color space as specified by the printer. Bay Photo prefers sRGB.
  3. Resize the photo to the exact size I’m going to print at. For this I use on1 Software’s Perfect Resize (formerly Genuine Fractals). If I’m going to get a massive 60 inch wide print made, I’ll take it into Perfect Resize and “upscale” the image to that exact size at 300ppi.
  4. Save the image as a full size, full quality JPG or TIFF (I use JPG, that’s a whole other discussion) and send to printer.
  • Thanks for answering my question. Was definitely surprised to see it there. I was wanting to send my photographs off to be printed and so glad you covered it here. Thanks for all the great information.

  • Chuck Martin

    I’ ll thank you forever for introducing me to back button focus a while back and now I’ m about to take your advice about having my images printed outside by the pros. You convinced me and I hope to be able to thank you again for this second great tip. Keep keeping it simple.

  • Gretchen Faulk

    You say you don’t use Lightroom to prepare photos for print. Why not? It seems like everything you suggest 1-4 can be done in Lightroom. Why have you decided Photoshop is better for this? Please explain what it is doing for print preperation that Lightroom cannot. Thank-you.

    • You’re right Gretchen, it all comes down to preference really and I just prefer Photoshop for prepping images. And Perfect Resize from on1 is, in my opinion, the absolute authority in the photo industry on upscaling images. I’ve printed 1,400px wide images at 60 inches using it, and it looked great.