Home Forums Am I a Fauxtog? Printing? (Rant and questions)

Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 18 total)
  • Author
  • #14593

    I keep my eye on a lot of forums, and talk to quite a few photographers. Beginner to seasoned pro. One subject that isn’t brought up enough is prints. This bothers me.
    When I first started taking my photography more seriously and wanted to get good enough to sell to the public, I knew one of the very first things I needed to learn was printing. I felt learning to shoot would be useless if I couldn’t make a decent print. At first I thought “easy peasy. I can just go to any lab and order prints”. Oh my! Was I ever in for it. What a mess! And quite an expensive process when all was said and done. I still struggle with making my own prints at home, and I have yet to make a photograph come out perfect the very first time, or second, or third. lol. I really need help right in my home from someone that knows what they are doing.
    Finding a lab was just as daunting. Embedding profiles, calibrating to printers, icc profiles for papers, inks, black and whites vs. color photos, etc. In short, Preparing a file for print is a lot harder and more involved than preparing for the web. I’ve got a good thing going now with my lab, and I know with time and practice, and listening and learning online I’ll eventually have a consistent/reliable thing going on at home as well.
    What bothers me?
    Where are all the questions about printing? Where are all the posts titled like mine were in the beginning, “help! My prints suck ass!”? Or “What are your favorite papers, and products?”. Are people really not printing?! If so why?! Why would you skip out on the most important part of why you do what you do?
    If not, does this mean I’m stinking stupid, and the only one who has had a problem with it. Does it mean I’m doing something wrong just because I can’t get a decent picture from MPix or other consumer level labs? Seriously I would love to be able to just send them off any where and everywhere and save some work, time, and money like I do my cell phone pics. Am I missing something?

    All I know is, printing changed/evolves the way I shoot. It changed/evolves my editing and work flow. It changed the way I look at my images, and the way I look at them before I push the shutter button, and I’m glad that I started printing straight away, before I fell into bad habits too strongly and made it difficult to break. Am I alone in this? Because sometimes I feel that I am.

    Let’s talk printing!


    Oops!  Wrong forum lol sorry about that.


    When I was little, Mom had a camera that took 126 film and she had prints done at the local drugstore.  She left a lot of B&W from when she was young.  I scanned and cleaned up a few of the photos, perhaps when I find I am really bored I will do some more.  I used a Kodak Instamatic for a while in high school.  Wherever those photos were processed, many have faded badly.  Others seem OK.  I never liked prints.

    The last rolls of film through that camera were all slide film.  When I got into SLR’s, I shot mostly slide film.   A friend and I shot another friends wedding using slide film and printed using the Cibachrome process.  That was a total pain, but they got colour prints and a set of slides.

    The two benefits of slides at the time were that no one in a lab messed with your photos, what you took was what you got; and, using a slide projector you could show your photos at a very large size, to a group.  Photos displayed on a 7 foot screen just look better than when they are printed on a 4 by 6 inch piece of paper.

    Digital rocks!  No smelly, messy chemicals.  You can upload files to the web so friends and relatives all over the world can see your photos when they want.  Try doing that with a print!

    Sometimes I still print:

    During trips to Hong Kong, we dropped off a CD or DVD full of edited files at Kodak Express.  A day later we could pick up a stack of prints to leave with relatives and a set to bring home.  Once you get over about 120 files, they give discounts.

    At home in Toronto, we tried Costco, and Walmart.  I gave Costco 3 DVD’s with many of the same files on each one.  We wanted 3 slightly different sets of prints and rather than going through the trouble of telling them which files we needed copies of, we just gave them discs and asked for a copy of each disc.  What came back was a bit of a surprise.  We got three different looking photos from the same file!  We tried Walmart with the same result.  Black’s is a Canadian chain with several stores in our immediate area and a lot of stores in Greater Toronto.  They do a pretty good job and if you purchase a gift card at the right time, the price is comparable to Costco and the other places.  If I have a lot of 4X6 printing to do, it goes to Blacks.

    I used to print on HP business printers but the last one was a pain.  It didn’t feed paper straight and cut the bottom third off Word documents.  I got an  Epson because I was frustrated with the HP, and I liked it so well, all my printers are Epson, now.  My wife is still using my old HP G55, which is a good printer but doesn’t do photos as well as a real photo printer.  She prints a lot of text and we are presently trying out refilled ink cartridges from Costco for that.  The other old pieces of HP gear that I have are a notebook computer and a Scanjet 4070 which is not supported but connected to Windows XP, I can scan slides and negatives — so I can clean the image up with Photoshop and print it as a digital file.

    The first Epson printer I purchased was an R1900 which I still use to print my photos.  I use two types of paper, Kirkland paper from Costco, which I suspect is made by Epson since it used to come in an Epson box before being rebranded, and Epson paper that comes in 13 X 19 inch sheets.  The Epson paper, I use with the Epson profile.  The Kirkland paper is 8.5 X 11 and I used a Colormunki to create a custom profile when we were trying to make photos of a high school graduation match the actual gown.    The Colormunki also does profiles for my monitors.  Sometimes my wife wants six photos to a page, sometimes four, or two, or just one.  I have a template with some layers that provide white borders, and guides, so I put the photos on the template, turn on the correct layers, save it as a PSD file, rotate it to portrait, and click an action in Photoshop that finishes it up and sends it to my printer.  Usually results are acceptable on the first try, so after some initial pain setting everything up, printing is pretty easy now.

    I printed some softcover photo books using Black’s, but their books are limiting and I don’t like their software.  In an 8 X 8 book, you can print an image about 7.5 inches wide or tall, but not square.  They have another option that prints about 6 inches square on an 8 inch page.  I print hard cover wedding photo books using Photobook Canada, which conveniently have an office a short drive from where I live.  Their software is not perfect (or my understanding of how to use it is not perfect) but it is much better than Blacks and I discovered they offer soft cover books as well.  As with their hard cover books, I can print the entire page, and I can add text with a consistent font and size.  So, I am in the middle of laying out an 8 X 8 soft cover photo book, and we shall see how it turns out in a couple of weeks.  Printing is done in the Philippians, but I can upload everything from my computer and I get an email when the book is at their local office, ready for pick-up.  Everyone has been happy with the wedding books, so I am hoping for equal success with the soft cover book.


    I have the same experience as CC, I tried some of the local labs with some hit and miss results, more on the miss side. I tried Costco, they do okay for the price, but it always seems to have some sort of inconsistency about it, be it color or just looks flat. I can’t explain it but it just looks that way.
    I don’t shop at Walmart, because I just feel like my IQ drops every time I enter the threshold of that store, not that my IQ is that high anyway, but I have to preserve what I have remaining.

    Lately, I have been using Miller’s Lab with good results. I am not trying to make a commercial for them, because I am sure there are several other labs that do just as well, like Bay Photo, Century Color and National are some that pop into my head.

    The paper I think makes a BIG difference. I have been using the Fuji Pearl Paper and it looks , IMO, just amazing. I try to convince my clients to select that paper when they order prints and I also keep several examples on hand to show the difference between that and the standard paper.

    The way I look at it, I am a photographer, not a printer, I leave most of the printing work up to them. I don’t want to be burdened down with worrying about printer profiles or anything like that, so I let them worry about it. I try to make sure that they have a good clean image to use and plenty of room to crop as needed.
    Sam thing with books and all the other products, just too much to worry about to do it myself.


    Lets narrow this down a bit.  I print a great deal, it’s my job.  If you have specific questions I will do my best to assist you.  Printing is not simple, but at the same time it’s not as difficult as people make it.

    1- Turn your monitor down.  Don’t expect to replicate what it can do.  You can’t.

    2- Icc profiles are a great place to start if you don’t have the ability to create custom profiles.

    3- Breathe.  It takes time.  Learn it right.  Learn it now, and save time and money later.

    * Canvas is pure concentrated evil.


    Printing is difficult and the reality is that it is a part of photography that people don’t see as important. Having a pro lab is important I think, they make your life so much easier. Since I’m in Britain Peak imaging will be my go to place and the photos turn out lovely and no one I’ve given photos to from them have been disappointed.


    What little I do print, it’s for personal use. I have a binder of close to 200 8 x 10s, most of which I’ve printed on an Epson Stylus Pro 3880 with Epson’s Premium Glossy photo paper. I’ve learned through experience that’s what’s on screen prints a little darker than what I’d like the actual colours to be, so I intentionally adjust the exposure by +2/3 stop or so before printing. Then the printer gives me a darker version of that lighter image that is pretty close to how it should be in the first place. It’s not perfect, but it works for me.

    If I get to the point where I have actual clients, I’ll look more into outsourcing my print jobs, but until then I’m content with how I do things now.

    Worst Case Scenario

    * Canvas is pure concentrated evil.

    He speaketh the truth.

    I spent 20 years running a lab, making colour and B/W prints, slaving over smelly chemicals in total darkness. I’d make gorgeous prints from utter crap exposures from so called professionals and when they picked up their prints they  won’t even notice.

    The same thing is true today. 99% of the worlds population won’t know good colour if it hit them. Take a look at all the TV’s in a large store. They all have a different colour picture on them. How many of the people who buy them will alter the colour when they get it home? And why should they, when the TV programs have crap colour anyway.

    When I’m at friends I’ll often check out my website on their computers. The B/W portraits are great for showing colour casts. I’ve seen everything from green and white to purple and white. And if you mention that they can’t be seeing colours correctly, they don’t care.

    So making a print might be the best way to show the world what colour you were aiming for, but generally the world doesn’t care.

    I tell you this, not to make you stop trying, (I still print anything that I want to display).  But you need to realize that getting a print that exactly matches your screen is next to impossible. And even if you manage it, no one will notice.

    That said, if you have any specific questions about printing, let me know.

    And for the others in the UK. I use DSCL in Manchester for my prints up to 12×16. ( anything bigger we print our selves) there service is excellent and there prices are tiny.




    Canvas: you know what? I don’t like it. I don’t even like the idea of it. JMO, but canvas was meant to grab paints, not smooth ink depicting a photograph. Look at most well done paintings. Do you see the canvas texture when they are done? No, you see the texture of paint the artist put there by using the canvas texture as a tool to build from. I just aesthetically find it all kinds of wrong to put just one layer of “paint” on a canvas. This said, I know I’m weird, and canvas is super popular for photos right now, and I’m by far in the minority by feeling the way I do. I do like how a canvas print looks on a wall though. The way it pops out and looks substantial. I make/order a lot of standouts for this very reason.

    Perfection? Ugh! I wish! I just want acceptable. Ok that’s not true. I want my prints at home to look like the prints I order from the lab, or even better. I want it to look like it’s supposed to. Better than on screen, how they were meant to be. But, I swear! When I print, the darn things look like generic CMYK. Drives me nuts! But I only have some kodak glossy to play with, and the print menu makes my brain hurt lol. I’ll get it though, or die trying. Thanks a lot guys, better paper in my future and possibly some printer calibration for my picky OCD self. I watched a class on creative live about color managing. Can’t remember the teacher’s name, but I loved it! I was glued to his every word. LOL pretty sad when it’s such a dry subject, but He knows his shit. And it hit home that I want that control over my “art”. I may purchase the class. Someday I’ll be making my own products from beginning to end. That’s my goal. Be a weird old lady with an out building full of prints/products, photographs people can hold and display.


    I’m on the fence about canvas, I have an A2 I got printed from my old 350D that looks ok. It is a landscape picture and the only decent shot I got of the mountain I named after the missus (long story) so she was pleased when that went on the wall. The second one is an A1 I got printed from my old 40D with some cherry blossoms which looks nice. For both these the canvas has done pretty well to both give a bit of texture to the subject but also cover up imperfections from the low res crop sensors. I don’t know why people would want canvas for portraits though. For example my mountainscape the grass looks a lot more interesting because it has texture, the mountains look more interesting and the sky isn’t so obviously grainy as it would have been on a normal print. That said I haven’t gotten my photos printed on expensive canvas but rather the livingsocial offer ones where the two combined with postage has been less than £50


    I really like the concept of canvas, but since I’ve never seen a canvas print in person, only paintings, I can’t really decide one way or the other. I enjoy a well mounted and framed print – but I’ve never put any of my work through a pro lab yet. I’ve been trying to figure out how the hell to work color profiles to send my tests into Simply Color, who I signed up with in the spring. Working on an uncalibrated monitor is killing me, since I do most my work on my laptop. I can appreciate color, it’s why I got both my TV’s professionally calibrated (they’re plasmas and look so much richer now!) but sometimes it’s so jarring moving from the tv to the laptop to my phone or tablet. The differences are so drastic even with images I know are done well on a pro’s site.

    I definitely wish I had looked into printing sooner. I certainly hope learning can help the way I see colors and appreciate exposures sooc.


    In regards to canvas; I didn’t mean to say not to do it, I meant if you want to get a decent print without frustration bypass it.  It is prone to printer head strikes that will destroy your investment and force you to print again (yes, I know the correct way to load heavy media).  Actually, all heavy media (310gsm+) requires you to finesse the print, this doesn’t take away from it, but is merely a consideration.  My go to paper for Epson or Canon printers is Illford’s Gold Fibre Silk 310gsm, it works very well on black and whites/monotones – it does not do well with color.  For color I generally go with Epson’s Galeie premium luster paper; it’s not the best as far as it’s color profile, but it provides good returns on quality for the economy.  Also note Canon users, if you desire to use Epson papers with your printers you will have to create custom profiles, epson does not provide .icc profiles for them.  Further, be aware when printing B&W acquiring a good RIP will enhance the ink output on the final print.

    Ok, printing is a pain, but not horrible.  It’s like a long math equation; break it down into smaller problems, expect to spend time and realize that if you keep plugging away you’ll get what you’re looking for.

    Best of luck in your prints!


    Oh yeah, a color calibrated monitor is nice, but not necessary.  I’m color blind (severely color deficient), but once you understand how to color correct by using either RGB numbers or CMYK percentages you can essentially bypass the limitations of an un-caliberated monitor.  For example I have taken a monitor, turned it to grey scale and done color corrections for my students; it’s not optimal to do this, but it is possible.  =)



    Photography is not an easy thing.The second one is an A1 I got printed from my old 40D with some cherry blossoms which looks nice. For both these the canvas has done pretty well to both give a bit of texture to the subject but also cover up imperfections from the low res crop sensors. I know a website which is really good for printing. They renders a great service for digital printing . You can visit the website http://www.digiteksf.com


    nice bot posting there, stealing my post!

Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 18 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.