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Monday, 18 April 2016

Comments

Thank you, these are both helpful. I've just recently started printing and have had difficulty getting the kind of results I was expecting. I've spent some time on LuLa trying to figure things out, but it's not quite "clicking" yet.

I suspect my issues are on the monitor calibration side, as I've got different results with my calibration device (Spyder 5) on different occassions. However, I also like Bob's suggestion to just buy some affordable paper an iterate until I find what works. I started out with a more expensive paper and I've been reluctant to "waste" it printing out a lot of test pages.

Jeff Schewe's books are both excellent, and I keep them handy as a reference after reading them. But the best use of your time and money is a printing workshop, where you have a decent instructor showing you the basics, some shortcuts, and instant feedback on your printing.

Hear, Hear to the Bob Rosinsky's philosophy! Books and online tutorials can be helpful to get you in the grooves and to overcome basic hurdles. But, similar to photography itself, the only way to learn to print is to print, baby, print!

To that end, you have lessen the financial load of experimentation. Paper and inks have become so expensive. The work print should be a no-brainer. So my version of the "work print" is nearly always a 4x6 print, usually on a semi-gloss or pearl paper. I like Ilford Smooth Pearl for its weight and excellent surface, and its low cost for a box of 100 sheets!


My "work prints"

I use a matte paper to pre-proof work that I know is destined for a matte surface.

I use Lightroom's page labeling feature to print the file name at the bottom of each 4x6 print, making it easier to maintain orderly files of them. I also often make many notes on their backs.

Experimenting with such small, non-precious prints has become essential to my work flows. I often look at these prints for weeks, or even months, before making a final print. They're tacked-up to magnetic wall, they're laying on my desk. They're also excellent for passing among friends to get early impressions.

But most importantly the 4x6 work print is a very good snap-shot of the relative tonalities of a larger print...at a small fraction of the expense. Print / look / nudge /---> repeat.

One more bit of advice. Look at prints. Look at good prints. See what is possible, and what you like. Then use books or other resources to help you make prints that you like. And practice.

So, serious question. Why do I want to print? I don't mean why do I want prints, I understand that. I mean why *I* want to print? There are plenty of good printers available, and their prices are, as near as I can tell, on a par with (or sometimes even cheaper) than I can do myself.

Other than loving to fiddle and "do it yourself" (both of which are perfectly valid reasons), are there really any advantages to printing it yourself?

Mike, Bob Rosinsky suggests a "decent 'budget' printer" and your editorial interjection suggests the Epson P600, which is an eight hundred dollar printer.

While I respect your long experience and authority in these matters, and am aware of your experience with the Epson P600 specifically, is this what Bob truly means by a "'budget' printer?"

Or is he saying that you can profitably learn to print well with a much less expensive printer than that Epson?

Epson P600 on Amazon UK is hardly budget price compared to what you would pay in the US

There are professional printers (the people, not the hardware device) like Ctein, who I definitely can't afford (except in special cases like the TOP print sale).

There are places like Costco, which do a perfectly decent job of running a file out their good printers (which are maintained well, at least the times I've used them). However, there's an almost non-existent list of papers available, and none of them are really suitable for serious artistic work (not archival). That's if I remember to tell them "no adjustments", and have prepared the file myself.

What's the intermediate level? My experience back in the day with professional photo labs was that they would do a competent job of exposure and color balance, but nothing else (and half of that work is now handled by color management). They had "custom" services available for 5 times as much that they claimed were a real person printing, but I tended to go into the darkroom myself rather than paying that much -- and I also had a sneaking suspicion that a one-off order from an unknown customer would not get the same attention as a "custom" order from somebody making such orders ever week; maybe that's just paranoia, though. So the question is, what exists, and how do we find it, at the in-between level; not world-class custom printers, but really solidly above what a beginner can do for themselves? How do we find it, and what does it cost?

Personally, I'm at this point good enough that I may well be as good or better than this middle level (I don't believe I'm competitive with the master-printers yet), so the other thing I want is places that will run my file, unmodified, through well-maintained printers larger than I can afford, with a tolerable choice of papers. I know two places that do things like that, at least one of them very expensive already.

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