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FrankStark

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10 steps to start printing as a beginner
« on: April 11, 2016, 10:22:22 am »

I am gathering information about printing my images. I have come up with 10 steps. I would be grateful for comments on these.

1.    Take photos
2.   Get a decent monitor - (am thinking of the BenQ SW27OOPT)
3.   Get a calibrator for the monitor (am thinking of the Xrite il Display)
4.   Get the printer. (Am thinking of the P800)
5.    Get paper - sample papers from different manufacturers. (Thinking of Ilford, Canson, and Epson.)
6.   Find manufacturer’s and custom profiles for the papers
6.   Try out work flow - Phase One Capture One
7.   Print trial runs on sample papers
8.   Choose paper for 17 by 23 inch prints (4:3 ration) Might have to be roll paper since sheets come in 7 inches by 22 - unless I print 16 by 22 with a border.
9.   Print trial runs with chosen paper at large size
10    Let prints dry overnight.

Frank Stark

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Mark D Segal

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Re: 10 steps to start printing as a beginner
« Reply #1 on: April 11, 2016, 10:31:27 am »

As a beginner, the first step is to get educated. Downlod and watch the excellent Camera to Print tutorials on this website.

As for raw converters, I think you should try both Lightroom and Capture One, then concentrate on the one you like better.

For a while, depending on your progress and your pocketbook, you may want to hold off making the very large prints. The most important piece of all that you describe in your ten steps is learning how to use the image editing software under softproof. That is the single biggest determinant of print quality, once the technical stuff like monitor and printer colour management are under control.
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Alan Goldhammer

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Re: 10 steps to start printing as a beginner
« Reply #2 on: April 11, 2016, 10:38:14 am »

I agree with what Mark has said.  Also, download the Outback Test Print  so that you have a good reference standard when testing papers and you don't have to necessarily rely on your own images as a first cut.  Do a bunch of letter size prints until you are satisfied with your workflow and results.  There is nothing worse that printing big images that end up in the trash can.
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FrankStark

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Re: 10 steps to start printing as a beginner
« Reply #3 on: April 11, 2016, 10:43:13 am »

Thanks to both Mark and Allan for their helpful comments. Will continue to get educated.

Frank
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LGeb

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Re: 10 steps to start printing as a beginner
« Reply #4 on: April 11, 2016, 11:03:43 am »

I prefer to leave a border on the paper and find 15x20 prints (4:3 aspect ratio) work very well on 17x22 with a nice even 1" border on all sides.

The P800 is an excellent printer choice. It does support roll paper, but I've never tried it. I suspect it's not an ideal implementation for borderless printing since there's no cutter, no paper tensioner, and most importantly no vacuum to hold the paper flat.  That could lead to possible head strikes on the first inch or so of paper with a curl (which my 3880 has issues with when using paper cut from a roll). Manually cutting the prints after could mitigate that.
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PeterAit

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Re: 10 steps to start printing as a beginner
« Reply #5 on: April 11, 2016, 11:04:22 am »

I am gathering information about printing my images. I have come up with 10 steps. I would be grateful for comments on these.

1.    Take photos
2.   Get a decent monitor - (am thinking of the BenQ SW27OOPT)
3.   Get a calibrator for the monitor (am thinking of the Xrite il Display)
4.   Get the printer. (Am thinking of the P800)
5.    Get paper - sample papers from different manufacturers. (Thinking of Ilford, Canson, and Epson.)
6.   Find manufacturer’s and custom profiles for the papers
6.   Try out work flow - Phase One Capture One
7.   Print trial runs on sample papers
8.   Choose paper for 17 by 23 inch prints (4:3 ration) Might have to be roll paper since sheets come in 7 inches by 22 - unless I print 16 by 22 with a border.
9.   Print trial runs with chosen paper at large size
10    Let prints dry overnight.

Frank Stark

A few comments based on my experience:

#1: Always shoot RAW.
#5: Don't start with a lot of different papers - that comes later. Find a good and inexpensive paper and work with it exclusively until you are happy with your prints. Then you can experiment with different papers. When I was learning to print I used Epson Premium Luster Pro but there are many others that fit the bill.
#6: Fuggedabout custom profiles for now - maybe later. BTW you cannot "find" a custom profile, it has to be made for you specifically ($$$).
#10: not needed: prints dry very quickly.
#11: You did not have a #11, but it's important. Set up a good print viewing/evaluation area. This requires controlled lighting and you should be able to view it while also looking at your monitor. I put up a cork board near my workstation and use Solux lights, based on recommendations on this site. You want to be able to look at the print and view the (softproofed) image on the sceen at the same time.

Good luck and have fun! And kiss your bank account goodbye <g>.
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graeme

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Re: 10 steps to start printing as a beginner
« Reply #6 on: April 11, 2016, 11:42:08 am »

For your learning period consider getting a smaller, cheaper printer & a continuous ink supply system. Find a matt paper & a gloss paper that you like & get them profiled for your printer / ink combo. Make your mistakes with this setup.

FWIW I use a 4 colour Canon consumer grade A3+ ( 13 x 19 ) printer with a Lyson CISS. I print out scale designs for prospective clients & portfolio images as well as some of my own images which get blu tacked to the wall of my workspace. The images on the wall fade after a while but I'm usually ready to replace them by then & I don't exhibit or sell prints. BTW A3+ paper is noticeably more impressive than A3 allowing a nice large border around the image.

I have a calibrated display, I soft proof & am happy with the screen to print match I get.

Have fun.

Graeme
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FrankStark

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Re: 10 steps to start printing as a beginner
« Reply #7 on: April 11, 2016, 02:42:11 pm »

LGeb: 15 by 20 inch prints may be a practical way of using sheets rather than rolled paper. I do like the idea of larger, but maybe I just need to have particular larger prints commercially produced.
PeterAit: A print viewing area makes a lot of sense. Kissing my bank account goodbye might be step no. 1, but I do plan to learn how to keep costs down, particularly paper costs.
Graeme: Will think about a cheaper printer for starters. I will definitely make mistakes. Minimizing their cost in money and time is an aim. Going back to Mark's suggestion of getting the software part right is part of that.

Thanks for all your comments.

Frank
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Chris Kern

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Re: 10 steps to start printing as a beginner
« Reply #8 on: April 11, 2016, 03:08:16 pm »

Downlo[a]d and watch the excellent Camera to Print tutorials on this website.

As for raw converters, I think you should try both Lightroom and Capture One, then concentrate on the one you like better.

I recently began making my own prints for the first time since the analog era after previously using a custom lab — I purchased a P800, by the way, and am quite happy with it — and I think you ought to insert these two points of Mark's up near the top of your list.  By the way, while the video tutorial is excellent, if you wind up printing from Lightroom or Photoshop, forum contributor Jeff Schewe's book, The Digital Print, describes the process in considerably greater detail than is possible in the tutorial, provides examples of what to consider when preparing an image for the printer and how to use the respective toolsets, and offers a number of tips that I, for one, would probably never have figured out on my own: highly recommended.

I also was well-served by following Peter's advice to find a single good and inexpensive paper, and using it to work out the kinks in my technique.  (Actually, I managed to figure out that point for myself.)  At least in my case, it took a while to learn how to look at a soft proof of a particular image and grasp instinctively what changes I needed to make to achieve the print I wanted.  Today's inks and papers are so good that often the modifications are quite subtle, but that doesn't make them any the less essential.  And it's not just getting the colors right: because of the difference in dynamic range between a transmissive medium like a monitor and a reflective one (i.e., the photo paper), I find I almost always need to tweak the tone-mapping of the proof to prevent the print from looking flat.  Once you acquire a feel for the process, it's easy to transfer what you have learned to other, more exotic, papers.
« Last Edit: April 11, 2016, 04:05:29 pm by Chris Kern »
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rdonson

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Re: 10 steps to start printing as a beginner
« Reply #9 on: April 11, 2016, 04:11:01 pm »

I'll echo the recommendations you've received and add one.

If you want to get deep into soft proofing and printing for fine art with Photoshop I can recommend the materials from John Paul Caponigro as well.  Not for beginners but should you want to venture to that level of printing they are excellent.

http://www.johnpaulcaponigro.com/store/dvds/art-proofing/
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Mark D Segal

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Re: 10 steps to start printing as a beginner
« Reply #10 on: April 11, 2016, 04:24:25 pm »

............ By the way, while the video tutorial is excellent, if you wind up printing from Lightroom or Photoshop, forum contributor Jeff Schewe's book, The Digital Print, describes the process in considerably greater detail than is possible in the tutorial, provides examples of what to consider when preparing an image for the printer and how to use the respective toolsets, and offers a number of tips that I, for one, would probably never have figured out on my own: highly recommended.

............... Today's inks and papers are so good that often the modifications are quite subtle, but that doesn't make them any the less essential.  And it's not just getting the colors right: because of the difference in dynamic range between a transmissive medium like a monitor and a reflective one (i.e., the photo paper), I find I almost always need to tweak the tone-mapping of the proof to prevent the print from looking flat.  Once you acquire a feel for the process, it's easy to transfer what you have learned to other, more exotic, papers.

Very good points Chris.
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Jager

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Re: 10 steps to start printing as a beginner
« Reply #11 on: April 11, 2016, 05:27:23 pm »

Welcome both to the forum and to printmaking, Frank!  You've got lots of good advice already.

A few other thoughts...

- Color management is at the heart of good printmaking.  And it seems most printing problems in one way or another relate back to it.  So embrace it.  There are some color management gurus on the forum here who can help, should you have any questions.

- As already suggested, stick to letter-size of one paper (or at most, one matte, one luster/glossy), until you are comfortable.

- A good viewing station adjacent to your monitor will give you an instant and profound insight into what those changes to your soft-proof will look like on paper.  Will save a ton of time, ink, and paper.

- Perceptual and Relative Colorimetric rendering intents will produce different results depending upon your image.  Sometimes one works best, sometimes the other.  Don't be afraid to quickly check them in your soft-proof.

- Don't be afraid to experiment, especially in the beginning.

- The difference between a good print, an excellent print, and a master print is...  subtlety and nuance.

Have fun!  Making prints - and especially that print that captures all the glories of an already-great image - is the very epitome of photography.

keithcooper

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Re: 10 steps to start printing as a beginner
« Reply #12 on: April 11, 2016, 05:30:55 pm »

A few comments that come to mind


1.    Take photos

The most important, and often neglected once getting into the technical side of printing.

2.   Get a decent monitor - (am thinking of the BenQ SW27OOPT)

Yes, I have one of these at the moment

3.   Get a calibrator for the monitor (am thinking of the Xrite il Display)

The sw2700 supports several different calibrators - you will be using it with the BenQ software
I looked at it a while ago, and tried several with it.
http://www.northlight-images.co.uk/reviews/monitor/benq-sw2700.html

4.   Get the printer. (Am thinking of the P800)
yes, a great printer.  It has the advantage of size, but making larger prints requires (much) more experience and skill. Be prepared to start with smaller prints.
Patience and a measured approach will win out - I get a lot of people asking about printing and often find that enthusiasm has run ahead of skill.

5.    Get paper - sample papers from different manufacturers. (Thinking of Ilford, Canson, and Epson.)
No, not yet.

As others have suggested, take the time to master one or two papers (I suggest an Epson paper with an Epson printer to start with) Yes it's may not the 'perfect' paper, but once again I've seen too many people always searching for a 'better' paper, where the real improvement would come from practice with just one paper and concentrating on the fundamentals.

Until you can quantify what it is you are looking for, it's a bit of a random effort just trying papers on a whim.

6.   Find manufacturer’s and custom profiles for the papers

Not a problem if you start with a manufacturer's paper. Many paper suppliers will make profiles for you - if only buy more paper ;-)

6a.   Try out work flow - Phase One Capture One

Seems rather complex to start off with - keep things simple?

This is a tricky one in some respects. Personally I've no time for Lightroom, working with Photoshop, but I know many do like it.
From my own POV, once you get to large prints (A2) you need to start paying much more attention to your whole workflow, right from taking the photos.

I'd suggest starting with LR if you are new to this. Once you know it well enough, you may well better appreciate the benefits some of us find in other software, particularly for larger work.

Others have suggested videos? Personally I hate videos as a method of learning anything, many irritate me somewhat with either pace or style BUT ... YMMV as they say ;-)

Find what works best for you, whether books, video or articles.

7.   Print trial runs on sample papers
Not until you know what you are doing.

I also suggest using known good test images for initial testing, say at A4. If you can't make a good print of a test image, then you are building your efforts on weak foundations.


8.   Choose paper for 17 by 23 inch prints (4:3 ration) Might have to be roll paper since sheets come in 7 inches by 22 - unless I print 16 by 22 with a border.

Not unless you own an ink and paper company - large prints need a lot more experience and skill (don't forget item 1 in your list!)

Start small - I'd even suggest not buying any large paper until you have mastered smaller prints

9.   Print trial runs with chosen paper at large size

Not unless you want to waste a -lot- of paper and still not be satisfied with the results

10    Let prints dry overnight.

Yes, although I prefer several days before framing

Hope these and other suggestions make sense ;-)
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FrankStark

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Re: 10 steps to start printing as a beginner
« Reply #13 on: April 11, 2016, 05:49:06 pm »

Jager, Chris, Mark, rdonson, and Keith,

I appreciate very much the advice given, from software, colour management and work flow, to practical ways of practicing and improving printing without being wasteful of material and money.

As far as software is concerned, I started out with Elements a few years ago, and then went to LR, but have not upgraded from LR5. I also took an introductory community college course in PS6. But my preference as a raw converter is Capture One. Have C1 8 and will upgrade to 9. In some ways it is highly inconvenient to prefer Capture One because of all the plug ins and instruction available for Adobe products. Now that I am thinking about printing, the wealth of good advice available for these products is also somewhat daunting. Taking some time considering a work flow with them and without them, even before spending money on a printer, might stand me in good stead. 

The other ideas I will meditate upon. They have given me the sort of practical foundation that I doubt I could as found as well anywhere else.

Frank

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BobShaw

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Re: 10 steps to start printing as a beginner
« Reply #14 on: April 12, 2016, 07:33:39 pm »

I agree with Mark and Alan's comments right at the top. If you can not print a perfect file perfectly then all the monitor colour management in the world is not going to fix that. You could theoretically (and many even do in practice ) take a card out of a camera and plug it straight into a printer.

I decided very early on to just print from a single file using a printing programme. I use Mirage and print from 16 bit TIFFs. The beauty of that is that you will get consistent results without having to worry about what application you are using and the need for presets. Every time you print that file you get the same result. Get a good printer and a few papers and practice. Custom profile your preferred papers.

If printing is not for you then that same file can go to a lab.
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pluton

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Re: 10 steps to start printing as a beginner
« Reply #15 on: April 12, 2016, 11:33:02 pm »

For your learning period consider getting a smaller, cheaper printer & a continuous ink supply system. Find a matt paper & a gloss paper that you like & get them profiled for your printer / ink combo. Make your mistakes with this setup.

A smaller cheaper printer is smaller, but not cheaper.  Ink costs are typically 40% more** on small Epson printers compared to the P800 class.
I can't comment on aftermarket continuous ink systems, except that I'm not interested in them for my own use.
**Epson ink. 
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graeme

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Re: 10 steps to start printing as a beginner
« Reply #16 on: April 13, 2016, 09:19:37 am »

A smaller cheaper printer is smaller, but not cheaper.  Ink costs are typically 40% more** on small Epson printers compared to the P800 class.
I can't comment on aftermarket continuous ink systems, except that I'm not interested in them for my own use.
**Epson ink.

Yes but I was referring to a smaller cheaper printer in conjunction with a CISS.

You can make a lot of prints ( & mistakes ) & learn a lot with a setup like this:

http://www.harrisoncameras.co.uk/pd/Canon-PIXMA-iX6850-Black-Inkjet-A3--Wireless-Printer_8747B008AA.htm

&

http://www.cityinkexpress.co.uk/ciss/canon/ix6850/ix-series/lyson-dye-and-pigment-ink

Settle on a couple of paper types & get them profiled.

If I was into exhibiting or selling prints I'd get a P800 & use epson ink.

Graeme

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Richard.Wills

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Re: 10 steps to start printing as a beginner
« Reply #17 on: April 13, 2016, 03:43:15 pm »

If you start all Epson (or Canon) - printer, inks, paper andprofiles, and follow the readilly available settings for OS, PS/LR output, then it is very difficult to get a badly wrong print.

Start with a standard test image http://www.outbackphoto.com/printinginsights/pi048/essay.html has an excellent explanation of what you should / should not be seeing in the print, and ensure that it looks good on print. If it doesn't, go back and check your settings.

If you jump in with third party inksets and papers, then it is less simple to diagnose errors in prints when you are starting out. You can always move to third party inksets once you've gone through your first set/sets of manufacturers inks, by which time, you should have an idea of the correct printer settings.
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FrankStark

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Re: 10 steps to start printing as a beginner
« Reply #18 on: April 13, 2016, 06:48:25 pm »

Bob, pluton, Graeane, and Richard,

The advice by Keith, Richard, and others to stick to one brand for printer and paper at least at the beginning makes sense. I have been exploring the idea of a less expensive printer than the P800 at Graeme's suggestion. It then follows that it might be better to pick the same brand for the better printer down the road, having already used their paper etc. Ultimately the cost of the cheaper printer needs to be added to the cost of the dearer one.  Lots of competition out there for less expensive printers. One is tempted to jump this step, but it has its points.

From Mark's review of the Epson Legacy papers, the Platine would seem to be a good choice to focus on. This also suggests an Epson printer. But I find myself looking re-reading Mark's Pro 1000 review, and looking forward to Keith's. I have not read about a comparable Canon paper to the Legacy Platine.  Decisions, decisions, such is life.

Frank
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BobShaw

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Re: 10 steps to start printing as a beginner
« Reply #19 on: April 13, 2016, 10:03:02 pm »

Things are cheap for a reason. Printers may have less inks, less gamut, smaller papers sizes, no matte paper support, etc. They are generally made for consumer use for snaps. If you have profiles made for these (or any printer) then you can't use them for other printers.

I think you probably should read from the top of the page again, and decide where you want to finish up, as your initial request does match your final steps. The first post sort of indicates that you want to learn to do fine art printing, but you then settle for a cheap printer using third party inks. The cost of the printer is really the cheapest thing.
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