These were both comments to the "Open Mike" post on Sunday about learning how to print. I thought they deserved their own post. Bob recently retired from a career making beautiful high-end studio portraits of dogs (how can you not like that?), and Geoff is a small-town medical doctor in Western New York with a longtime passion for photography and a huge book collection. He has written many (more formal) book reviews for TOP.
Geoff Wittig: "Totally agree with the recommendation above for Jeff Schewe's books. The Digital Negative (second edition) was just published in September 2015, so it's pretty much up to date in terms of current versions of Photoshop/ACR and Lightroom. Schewe's approach to image processing is pretty much style-agnostic, giving you access to all of Photoshop/ACR and Lightroom's tools without dictating what your images should look like. Schewe gets right to the point and doesn't waste your time. The Digital Print dates to 2013, but that's fine because printer technology isn't changing as fast as software versions. It's excellent on how to translate the image on-screen to a physical print that reflects what you're trying to do artistically. The two books together pretty much give you all the information you need in a very approachable format.
"As of seven or eight years ago there were a goodly number of books on the subject. But it's a moving target, and print books are basically a perishable commodity as software versions and printer technology advance. Harald Johnson's Mastering Digital Printing was a good overview, but the latest (second) edition dates to 2004, so it's no longer very useful. Uwe Steinmueller's Fine Art Printing for Photographers: Exhibition Quality Prints with Inkjet Printers (third edition) is pretty current as it was published in late 2013, and has some good information, but it's also packed with lots of redundant stuff about specific printer models and the writing style confirms that English is not his first language.
"George DeWolfe's B&W Printing: Creating the Digital Master Print dates to 2009; so it's a bit old, but he is a very skilled printer. Be forewarned that he's a bit dogmatic and is also trying to sell some software tools. Finally, David Taylor's Photographic Digital Printing is current (April 2015), but it's too elementary to recommended, and Rob Sheppard's New Epson Complete Guide to Digital Printing is both too simplified and entirely Epson-based."
Bob Rosinsky: "The best way to learn how to print is to purchase a decent 'budget' inkjet printer [such as the Epson P600 —Ed.]. Avoid printers that use small ink cartridges. Start out using one type of paper—one that is RC and relatively inexpensive—Epson Ultra Premium Luster or similar. At the very least, start with a monitor that is 'okay.' I recommend purchasing a simple device for calibrating the screen. Start out with a photo editing program that allows for 'soft proofing.'
"Spend some time reading about printing. I think The Luminous-Landscape is a great site. I've gotten a lot of useful tips from well-known gurus who are willing to share hard-earned knowledge. The more you read and learn through practice, the more skillful you will become. If all of this sounds intimidating, try hooking up with someone who understands color management and has been printing for awhile. To become facile (meaning you hit it right on the first or second print) requires technical skill and artistic vision.
"Please bear in mind, I am a fastidious printer. I am 57 years old. I've been printing since the age of 14. A lot of the skills I acquired in the darkroom are relevant in the lightroom.
"As for casual printing, it is possible to achieve pretty good results. Like anything, the more you learn the more you'll become aware how much you do not know about what you do not know. It is highly rewarding to 'see' the final print prior to pressing the shutter button. It takes a lot of practice to achieve that."
And there you have it: study and practice.
(Thanks to Geoff and Bob)
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