Thursday, January 14, 2010

How Photographers Make Great Prints

I really, really enjoy great prints. When I put a lot of work into making a picture for 40 Nights Photography, I feel a lot of gratification in holding a print that features perfect color and sharpness.

Many of my clients are excited when I tell them my packages come with a CD of high-resolution images and a copyright release that lets them make their own prints. Price-conscious shoppers who have Target's photo department bookmarked on their computers love this benefit.

However, there's more to making properly colored prints than some people realize. Often, you can't just drop off your CD at Walmart, Walgreens, or other discount print service shop and expect your prints to look their best.

Here's why.

- Prints look best when a specific computer monitor is calibrated to a specific printing system. Everyone has printed a color document at home or work and witnessed how the printed colors look different than those on the screen. Every monitor is different, and every printer is, too.

- Your monitor displays bright, illuminated images. Prints, on the other hand, aren't backlit. Colors and details look very different on dead-tree paper than they do on a glowing, electricity-driven computer monitor -- these are very different display mediums. Thus, in order to translate your computer's digital images into great analog prints, you have to adjust for contrast, color, and brightness depending on the printer or service you're using.

There's a lot of technical mumbo jumbo that goes into these processes, but you can see how things get complicated in a hurry.

Photographers like me, who want to consistently create really nice prints, calibrate their equipment and use only the best vendors who guarantee high-quality photos.

Do handcrafted prints cost more? Yup.

But when you think about the importance of the images, and the length of time you'll have them, they're worth every last penny.

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