5 Tips for Printing Your Own Photos

Posted Apr. 30th, 2014 by Daniel J. Cox

5 tips for printing your own photos are some tips I decided to offer based on popular request from our traveling Explorers. Unfortunately, it’s not a simple answer so I thought I would pick out the five most important things to know and understand to get the best results. Here in our studio we have Jill – she’s our expert that handles printing all of our fine art prints. However, I recently made the decision to start learning more myself and in this post I’ll share what I’ve learned.

Even though Jill is in charge of all the really important printing, I too have been printing on a smaller scale. My needs revolve around getting images to people I’ve worked with, bio shots, and photos handed out just for fun. A couple of years ago I bought my first Canon printer, the Canon Pixma Pro 9000 Mark ll,  for personal projects. What I’ve found is this Canon printer is amazing right out of the box. I do everything off my laptop, which I’ve never calibrated. Admittedly, my colors aren’t 100% perfect, but they are so close it’s not an issue for the type of prints I do. I print all my images via Apple’s Aperture and I set the rendering option in the Aperture print window to Printer Managed. In general, it’s that simple at least for the things I do.

However, if you really want to nail all the colors perfectly and not waste inks there are additional steps you need to take.

5 Tips for Printing the Highest Quality Photos You Can Achieve on Your Home Inkjet Printer

  1. Calibrate Your Monitor. Calibration is a technical way of getting virtually the exact colors and saturation of the image you see on your screen to come through exactly onto the inkjet paper. One of the more popular devices for color calibration is the Spyder4Pro which is very reasonable compared to what we paid for our original i1Display2 calibration device and software.
  2. Know what type of inks your printer uses. Are they Dye based inks or Pigment based inks? Pigments give the longest lasting colors but modern dye based inks are much longer lasting than they used to be and may be satisfactory for most people.
  3. Sharpen your prints using Nik Sharpner for fast, easy, superb results. When we get serious about printing we use Nik Sharpener. It can be used as a stand alone program or as a plugin for Aperture, Lightroom or PhotoShop. When I do my prints I use Aperture’s sharpening tool.
  4. If you’re exporting your image from PS, Lightroom or Aperture, make sure you export as a finalized JPEG in the sRGB color space. Some printers can handle ProPhoto or Adobe 1998 color space. It’s best to check your printer’s manual for details on the color gamut it’s optimized for. Most are sRGB but some can print the larger number of colors in ProPhoto or Adobe RGB.
  5. Make sure you load ICC Color Profiles for the type of paper you are working with. The printer manufacturers will have the ICC profiles for the papers they make and supply. If you are using a third party paper vendor, such as Moab Paper, check their website to see if they have the ICC profiles for your printer based on their specific paper.

These five tips should get you up and running with printing your own images at home if you decide you want the challenge. The immediate gratification is a big thrill. Following some of the suggestions I mention above will help you stay solvent.

For those who may not have a printer, you may want to check out a special deal that Hunt’s Photo has offered all our readers. They’re calling it the Natural Exposures’ Photo Printer Special which includes a discounted price of $399 for the Canon Pixima Pro 100 printer. If the printer is purchased with a package of Canon 13″x19″ 50 sheets of paper, luster or semi-gloss for $50, Canon will mail you a $300 rebate! The final cost of the printer is $99.99 plus the cost of the paper. As always, SHIPPING IS FREE at Hunt’s.

To take advantage of this special offer please contact Alan at 1-781-662-8822. Press 1 for sales and ask for him directly. He will gladly take your order by phone and ship ASAP. Alan’s schedule is as follows: Saturday 5/3: 9:00am-5:30pm, Sunday 5/4 11:00am-5:00pm, Monday 5/5 off, Tuesday 5/6 12:00pm-8:00pm, Wednesday 5/7 12:00pm-8:00pm, Thursday 5/8 9:00am-5:30pm, Friday 5/9 8:00am-8:00pm, Saturday 5/10 8:00am-8:00pm and Sunday 5/11 11:00am-5:00pm.  All times are eastern US.  If anybody takes Hunt’s up on this offer please stop by the Blog and let us know how you like the printer or not, how the service was, etc. If we suggest a vendor we want to make sure they treat you well and fairly.

 

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There are 6 comments on this post…
  1. Portrait of Mike Cromwell

    Mike COn May. 5th, 2014

    Dan:

    My understanding is that optical brightening agents (OBAs) are chemicals that make fine art paper appear whiter. These chemicals supposedly reduce the “archival life” of the print because they cause the print to degrade over time. This had not been a concern of mine when I was printing for my own use. Now that I am printing for use by others, it is something that I am seeking to better understand. I don’t know whether it means that avoiding OBAs can extend the average life from 60 years to over 100+ years. See http://pictureitoncanvas.com/mm5/merchant.mvc?Screen=obas

    Mike

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn May. 5th, 2014

      Shorter life span was my concern when I read the about the whitener. Good info. I appreciate you sharing this with the folks here on the Blog.

  2. Portrait of Mike Cromwell

    Mike COn May. 3rd, 2014

    Dan:

    The Hahnemuhle paper that had been using for a few years is the Photo Rag Bright White 310 gsm. It is a Matte Fine Art paper that is 100% cotton. The label says that it is a “smooth” paper, but it has a slight texture to it. It is half a millimeter thick and has a modest level of optical brighteners.

    This paper has some good “pop” to it for a matte paper. While its dmax and gamut is not quite as good as the satin or luster papers, I really like the detail and range of subtle tones. The depth of black is outstanding for a matter paper

    Since this Hahnemuhle paper has “some” optical brighteners, I am now starting to use the Canson Rag Photographique 310 gsm because it has no optical brighteners. This is an ultra smooth paper with excellent contrast for a matte paper as well.

    For a good comparison of some of the popular papers, including Moab, see http://mpdphotography.wordpress.com/2013/06/26/paper-reviews/

    Mike

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn May. 3rd, 2014

      Mike, enlighten me on “optical brighteners” (no pun intended) I’m totally naive on this subject. I’m just really starting to do my own printing and I have a lot to learn. I’m guessing by your comments that optical brighteners in a paper are not positive?

  3. Portrait of Mike Cromwell

    Mike COn May. 1st, 2014

    Dan

    Over the past 2 years, I stepped up to the Epson 7890 24″ printer and have been very happy with the results. I agree with your 5 points. I would appreciate any suggestions you (or Jill:)) have on papers. I like Hahnemuhl and Canson papers.

    Mike

    • Portrait of Daniel J. Cox

      Daniel J. CoxOn May. 1st, 2014

      Mike, for all our large prints we use the HP Z3200 44 inch printer. It’s been a fabulous workhorse. Not the case with the smaller HP photo printers and that’s why we went with Canon for a maximum of 13×19 inches. I have to admit I’ve not been very experimental with papers although that’s on my list of things to do. For our Z3200 we use all HP papers. They have beautiful glossy and Satin gloss finishes. There canvas is also superb. I’ve also heard great things about Hahnemuhl and Moab papers. I’m very interested in exploring more of both but mainly Moab due to all the great word of mouth I’m aware of. If you have any specifics on the the Hahnemuhl like the types of finish etc. and why you like them I would love to know. I’m planning to be checking those papers out myself. There are so many options my brain goes fuzzy when I start investigating them all. Any suggestions are greatly appreciated. Thanks for adding your voice.

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