Test Prints

A few days ago we had some really nasty weather come through the area. The wind was howling up to about 65-70 mph. I have a very ill oak tree in the back yard that had already lost one trunk to rot last year. Earlier in the winter the trunk next to it had broken off in high wind but was held up by neighboring trees. Then came the next round of high wind which pushed it all the way to the ground with a resounding roar I heard from my office. Finally it is down on the ground so I can cut it up. The textures in the rot and rotting wood are so interesting I had to try and make some frames of it. So over the course of a couple of days I have made some interesting images. Now for the point behind this post. How many of you make prints of your keepers or selects right away or if ever? I bet the answer is, not many. I always keep a roll of 24″ Luster in the printer so I can make test prints after I have finished doing post production on my images.


If the end result of fine art photography is a print you can hold in your hand or display on a wall then making test prints is a must. Getting to know your printer and how the ink looks on certain types of paper is essential to getting the desired result you are looking for. I know dozens of photographers that can do a great job of working on their images in post and for screen display but very few of them print the work themselves. They display them all over social media but only have a handful of their images printed by a lab or a local print shop. This happens for a number of reasons. The first is that it can be expensive to buy a high quality large format printer, 17″-24″ Epson and Canon printers range in price from $1300 – $3200 new. Then comes the ink and paper costs which if not controlled can be expensive. Most photographers I know have either a 13″ or 17″ printer but rarely use it.


The last issue most photographers face is that getting the image on the paper to look like the image on the screen is not easy. It’s much better than it used to be using Lightroom to print from but for most people just using Photoshop it can be a challenge. Calibrating the monitor and doing paper profiles is an arduous process. I have gone through all that but now print from an iMac screen that is not calibrated and the results are really good which shows you that the process has become much easier. Since I have gone through this process before, I know that this iMac screen is very bright so all I have done is turn it all the way down, use the right paper profile, make sure everything is matched up in the Lightroom print module and the results are beautiful. I encourage all photographers to take advantage of how easy it has become and make test prints so you know what your images will look like on paper. Remember – the way things used to be. A photograph was not a photograph unless it was a print.


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