How-To Tips: Preparing Photos For Large Format Fine Art Photo Prints
Are you are a professional or a serious hobby photographer who is planning to take the next step and print your photos as large format prints (8×10” and larger)? Then we are here to help! At ABC Fine ART, we’re passionate about producing the finest quality prints of your work. We’re happy to offer free consultation and assistance to ensure you have the best possible image quality before you print with us.
Note: In order to have the best results we suggest you follow the guidelines below. Please understand that you are responsible for your own image quality. We will work with you to get the best results for your image prints. However, we cannot take responsibility if you have errors in your image when you give us the go ahead with printing.
How to Prepare a Picture for Large Format Photo Printing: A Step-By-Step Check List
☑ Shoot in RAW Format
Raw image files are sometimes called digital negatives. In digital photography, the raw file plays the role that the photographic film plays in film photography. A camera raw image file contains minimally processed data from the image sensor of your digital camera. Check your image setup on your camera and make sure it’s set to RAW.
☑ Have a Clean Camera Sensor
Make sure that your camera sensor is clean and free of any dust or debris. Sensor dust spots most likely remain in the same area on your image, indicating your camera sensor needs cleaning. Check for instructions on how to clean your camera sensor in your camera manual or on your camera manufacturer’s website. Proceed with care as it is a very delicate process and it is possible to cause real damage. If you don’t feel confident doing it yourself, take it to a camera store to have them clean it for you. If you “Do It Yourself,” it could result in a very costly and painful mistake.
Before printing your image, check closely for camera sensor dust spots on it. Retouch spots with image-editing software like Photoshop prior to doing any other editing.
☑ Calibrate Your Monitor:
If you’re a serious photographer, you likely have some understanding of monitor calibration and what it means. Monitor calibrators are an essential tool for photo editing. There are different models available; the Spyder series from www.datacolor.com, X-Rite ColorMunki series from www.xritephoto.com are well-known.
Do a little research and find the best monitor calibrator for your needs and budget. Monitor calibrator prices start at about $100. A carefully-selected monitor calibrator can save you money on printing as it will display your colours as closely as possible to the end-result printed colours.
☑ Edit in ProPhoto RGB:
You need a wide-gamut colorspace to prevent any gamut issue when printing your image. Colour settings such as sRGB or Adobe RGB have range limitation. ProPhoto RGB has a fairly wide range gamut which allows the printer to find the closest colour to your image.
☑ Edit in 16 Bits/Channel:
The human eye is not able to recognize minimal differences between an 8- bit and a 16-bits printed image. However once images are printed, the lines appear a bit finer in 16-bit images. Keep your images as 16-bit. If your image is already 8 bits, there is nothing to be gained by trying to convert it back to 16 bits. Don’t forget, in digital imaging there is an unchangeable law, you can decrease a file but not increase without losing the quality.
☑ Use Resolution of 360 dpi, NOT 300:
Epson Stylus 9900 series output printing is 360 pixels. No matter what resolution your image has when you send it to the printer, they will change it to 360 pixels. Since you don’t know which algorithm Epson is using to scale the resolution of your image, it’s better that you use photo editing software to set the resolution to 360 dpi yourself. This gives you control over your image instead of waiting to see what happens when you print.
☑ Use Lens Correction as Your First Step in Image Editing
Chromatic Aberration, also known as “colour fringing” or “purple fringing” is caused by lens dispersion, with different colours of light travelling at different speeds while passing through a lens. As a result, the image can look blurred or have noticeable coloured edges (red, green, blue, yellow, purple, magenta) can appear around objects, especially in high-contrast situations. It will be more visible on large format photo print.
Photoshop, Lightroom, Aperture and most other photo editing programs provide a software solutions for this issue. The first step in editing a RAW image is to use a lens-correction filter and make sure that the setting for “Remove Chromatic Aberration” is checked for your image. Check this page how to remove it. This lens issue appears often even with professional photographers.
☑ Save Your Image As .TIF, .PSD or Photoshop Large Format:
Many people use JPEG to save their photos in reasonably small files but don’t necessarily know that some image data is lost when the file is compressed into this format. The amount of compression can be varied: the smaller the file size, the more data from the image is discarded to generate a smaller file. Also, each time you edit a photo and re-save it, you are losing some of its quality. Small JPEG files are great for uploading on the internet or emailing to friends and family, but they do not have enough data in them for high quality fine art prints.
TIFF format is the standard for most commercial and professional printing needs. TIFF and PSD files don’t use compression, they do not degrade the quality each time the photo is edited.
☑ Adjust Sharpness at the Very End
Adjusting the sharpness of your image is best done as the final enhancement to your photo. When you are finished with your other editing and have enlarged your image to the size you want to print it at, then sharpness can be a final adjustment.
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