Hello everyone! I have been doing a lot more printing recently and so thought I would give you a bit more information regarding the practicality of printing, rather than just suggesting I help you with it 😉
Printing can be a piece of cake when you have your methods or printing company sorted out, it’s just a case of getting to that point. I went through a number of different printing services and had a small selection of prints done of some of my photos. I took about 5 of my photos which varied wildly. One of a baby with subtle textures, soft colours and a gentle feel about it. One of the child who was playing with paints, to show the vibrancy in colours. One where I had taken all of the colour out apart from one vivid colour (the picture for this post above). One of my light trails ones to give stark contrast between very light and very dark and one of the crispest family photos I could find. This all allowed me to evaluate the prints I got back.
So I tried 3 services. All online. The most disappointing was a large supermarket’s photo service. The service was great, cheap, convenient and easy to do, but the prints came out looking dull and not comparable to the photos on screen. The colours looked like they had been in the wash and the difference in shadows made them look like snaps. This problem was due to the processing service applying “fixes” to my photos. I think the point here is that if you are just taking snaps and aren’t editing them yourself or you are new to photography, your photos will probably come out looking better. This is because the filters they apply to your photos are good generic fixes for photos with balance issues. If, on the other hand, you have got the picture looking how you want them, you don’t want it being mucked around with. I have heard that you can ask the service to not apply this filtering, but I personally would prefer to find a service which was more in tune with a photographer than the general public, one which understands a photographer more than it understands a shopper.
Jessops photo service
In comes Jessops photography service… Now anyone who has done any kind of photography will probably have heard of Jessops. They are one of a couple of companies who specialise in photography. It therefore stands to reason that their photography service would be better tailored to photographers. If you haven’t heard of Jessops before, they are one of the UKs big photography shops, on the high street and online. Their hardware that they sell is generally well researched and they sell the best kit. They also have staff that really know their stuff, so if you want personalised advice, they are a great shout and can also show you the items then and there. Now, back to the printing side of it, Jessops have an application for their photo printing service which you can edit and purchase prints directly through. Their product catalogue is built into it and it uploads your photos for you. The best bit about this, is that you can have a much better idea of what is going to be coming through your door a few days later. The button which turns off automatic photo processing stops any tools from being run on your photos and looking at the results of the prints, I was really very happy. The prices are comparable to the cheaper options, but you get a real sense that you will get what you want with Jessops.
Following this experience, I now personally use Jessops photo printing service for all of my small format printing. I can vouch for the large format printing quality with Jessops too, I simply have a friend who deals with large formats and so would prefer to use them for this. The prints at Jessops come out looking great (large and small have all been tested) and I think I will be continuing with this for a while.
Printing yourself – ICC Profiles
Some of you may have heard of these ICC profiles. They are small files which describe your printer and paper to your computer, to let it know what it can do. So, this file will say that your printer and paper combination can provide this range of colour or a certain amount of contrast or resolution. So when it comes to printing, you know what it will look like. These profiles can often be supplied by printing companies too so you can be sure that what you send off, is what they will print you. In comes Lightroom…
I personally use Adobe Lightroom to make sure my photos are going to come out the way I want them. It offers every option possible to make adjustments, but also has some other tools specific for printing. ICC profiles can be imported into Lightroom and you can use the proof tool to help see what it will look like. Once you have selected the proof tool and entered the ICC profile, you will see your image as your printer will print it (with your monitor being set up correctly). There are also two buttons in either corner of the small image preview. The top left button can show you what areas your monitor can’t show you. It will put a colour mask over you photo and highlight the areas which you can’t see a difference in. The top right button will show you a mask of what your printer won’t print correctly. With this information, you can take your photo and adjust the levels to remove all of this masking, meaning what you are now seeing in your photo is what your print will come out looking like.
Have a look at the video below for details on Lightroom profiles.
Well, that’s the end of this blog entry. Any questions, give me a shout and I will try and answer! Thanks for reading.