I often hear that only through printing do photos really come to life. And I agree. Holding a high quality print – the feel of the paper under my fingers, its soft structure mixing with the fine details of the photo – is something special and makes me appreciate the photo even more.
But to achieve a high quality result during print, there’s quite some additional work involved compared to how I prepare my photos for digital distributions.
In the following two videos I go deep into the details of my print preparation workflow. The workflow starts with finished master files, which contain all my creative processing as well as a multi-pass sharpen step at the end to bring out plenty of details. If you are interested in the photo editing I do to create those master files, I recommend you watch my start to finish tutorials.
The first step during print preparation is giving the master files a final polish. I usually remove sensor dust and other flaws right in the beginning of my post processing workflow. But it’s always good to do some more pixel peeping before ordering a photo as print. Because, especially large format prints would reveal any flaws I might have missed in the beginning.
Soft Proofing and Output Sharpening
Would I send my photos off to get printed right after the final cleanup, chances are that the prints would look a bit different to what I expected. Depending on the used paper the colors might vary, contrasts might be weakened and the brightness might deviate.
To avoid unwanted surprises I use soft proofing to simulate how the final print will look on the selected paper. For this I need a calibrated monitor*, a well lit room and the ICC profile for the used printer and paper, which I usually get from my lab.
Comparing the soft proofed photo with the original I can then match colors, contrast and brightness with some simple adjustments in Lightroom. Afterwards I resize the photo and perform the output sharpening. I explain the detailed workflow in the next video.
If you follow this workflow, you don’t leave anything to chance and the prints you receive should resemble the photos on the screen very closely.
* Above I use Amazon Affiliate Links. If you use them to buy something, I’ll get a little commission from Amazon