Monday, April 27, 2009

Setting Up For Digital Printing

Producing digital photographs that are of similar quality to 8"x10" darkroom prints requires a procedure that is significantly different than what is required to make photographs for email or a website. Every stage of the procedure is different. When using the camera choose the highest quality image and the largest image size. This will vary with the camera. If the camera offers a choice between High Quality JPEG and RAW – choose RAW. RAW is a higher quality image.

In Photoshop the editing choices that are analogous to the darkroom are

Levels > brightness test strips and contrast filters
Magic Wand > burning and dodging
Clone Stamp Tool > spotting

Photoshop can be confusing because it offers many more choices than a darkroom. Most people who use a darkroom would not use split toning , solarization, developing film in Pyro film developer, multiple printing or compound their own printing chemicals. These types of options in Photoshop are so much more tempting to even the most casual user. It is important to not let editing options be taken more seriously than composition.

Printing quality is determined by the quality of the ink and the paper. Printers that do not use pigmented ink and photo quality paper should not be considered. Canon, Epson and Hewlett Packard make the best ink and papers. There are also high quality third party manufacturers of pigmented ink and photo quality paper. Printers that use 2 cartridges produce lower quality prints than those that use 4 or more cartridges. The colors are less vibrant with 2 cartridges. Paper similar in price to standard computer paper should be avoided. The paper of choice should be labeled as photo paper. Too much of the ink soaks into inexpensive paper and tonal separation and color accuracy are the result. Buy the most expensive paper you can afford.

Making digital prints can be challenging, but once a procedure is established, it requires considerably less space than a darkroom.

©2009 Paul Light all rights reserved


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