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Perfect Photo Prints
Author: _Peter Horner

Copyright © 2006 Peter Horner

There are many ways to share your landscape photos with digital photography, but photo prints remain the most popular. Prints can be framed and hung up on the wall to show your photos off to friends and family. Creating the perfect print can become even more challenging if your monitor isnít calibrated properly. You will have suddenly wasted your time, paper and ink on a print which doesnít match what you see on your monitor. Read these quick tips for getting the best prints possible.

Dpi and Ppi - When you make a print of one of your photos on an inkjet printer, a lot is happening inside the printer. Inkjet printers work by spraying ink dots of cyan, magenta, yellow and black from nozzles while they pass over the paper. Most inkjet printers have a print resolution of 1440dpi and some printers go as high as 5760dpi. In general, the higher the resolution of your printer the greater detail you can print and the better your photo will look. The single biggest point of confusion comes from Dots per inch and Pixels per inch. Dpi is very different from ppi, which is the resolution of an image on your computer screen. Printers create dozens of tiny dots to fill the space of one pixel, and the more pixels you pack in an inch the finer the detail will look. The ideal resolution for printing an image is 300 to 400dpi/ppi.

Ink and Paper - You have a lot of options when choosing different quality inks and paper types, all of which can be combined to form a satisfying result. Different photo papers will give surprisingly different results from the same photo printed on the same printer. Photo paper comes in many different styles, weights, and photo finishes, including matte, glossy and varying degrees of gloss, which is usually called semi-gloss. Colour photos usually look best when printed onto glossy or semi-gloss photo paper, while black and white photos usually look better on matte. It is also worth while creating and saving different profiles for your printer for each type of photo paper you use. This is because on some papers a printer may use too much of one colour, instead of correcting the colour yourself you can select a profile you created before. The cost of ink can sometimes be greater than that of paper. Purchasing brand name inks by your printer manufacturer is usually the safest option and will produce the best results. Remember that printer damage caused by third party printer cartridges sometimes isnít covered by manufacturers. Some companies such as Lyson produce high end inks which in some cases are better than the manufacturers own. Archival qualities and resistance to colour fading is also important when choosing inks. For example pigment based inks help guarantee that your prints will remain crisp and vibrant for many years. If you are going to print a large quantity of photos it is also worth checking the prices of online printing stores to see if they are a better option for you.

Monitor and Printer Calibration - Calibrating your monitor and printer is essential when viewing and printing your photos. Your monitor could be displaying inaccurate colours and density. Adobe Photoshop comes with something called Adobe Gamma which will most likely already be installed on your computer. You can use Adobe Gamma to create an ICC profile which uses calibration settings to change the way your monitor reproduces colours. Start Adobe Gamma, located in Control Panel and then select step by step and follow the instructions. Daylight can affect the accuracy of colours displayed on your monitor, this is why its best to carry out your monitor calibration in a darkened room. The first and most important step in printer calibration is to use the correct driver for your printer. Every printer driver comes with its own calibration controls and tools, designed for fine tuning the overall colour of your prints. You can visual calibrate your printer using test images with a wide range of tonal values, including colours bars, photographs, and blocks of colours. You can then adjust the colours using your printerís controls to match on screen with what you have in print. Alternatively ICC profiles provide a way to insure consistent colour reproduction. Every printer comes with default profiles for use with different combinations of inks and paper which may be suitable for your needs.

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Peter Horner is an experienced landscape photographer who co-created the large format printing company DesignerPrint. Using digital printing technology DesignerPrint create canvas prints, block mounts, and poster prints. www.designerprint.co.uk

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