4 tips to help you make great impressions

by Jeremy Gray

published Wednesday, February 23, 2022 at 12:00 PM EST

Printing your photographs is one of the most rewarding and exciting parts of photography. However, many photographers struggle to get their prints to look like they expected and match the beautiful image they see on their computer screen. If this problem sounds familiar to you, a new video from photographer Mahesh Thapa for Adorama will prove very useful.

Before diving into it, it’s important to have realistic expectations for your prints. No matter what you do, an impression will never seem exactly as your monitor. Reflected light is different from transmitted light. However, the goal is to get as close to it as possible, especially with overall visible brightness, color accuracy, and most importantly, the “feel” you want to convey with your image.

With help from the experts at Printique, Thapa discusses the four main components of achieving great prints. First, is your monitor calibrated? Printique uses X-Rite calibration tools, although they also recommend that photographers make or order small proof prints to see how actual prints compare to their monitor and then adjust accordingly. If you’re printing at home or paying for a print, you don’t want your first print to be a big, expensive 20 x 30. It’s best to start with small test prints. Thapa calibrates its monitors and estimates that the calibration process gets it about “90% of the way there”, then it relies on test prints to select the perfect settings. If you are ordering prints, Thapa recommends contacting to see if they offer discounted test prints.

The second tip is to make sure you are working with a properly edited output file. Thapa recommends a resolution of 300 DPI (or PPI). If you are printing in large print, you may need to increase the resolution of your file. You can use many tools for this, including some built-in resolution tools in Adobe Photoshop. There are also dedicated apps, such as Topaz Gigapixel AI, which are designed to enlarge images for high-quality results. To maximize detail, you want to make sure your file is the right size for the print you want. There has been a lot of debate about the ideal resolution for images, but Printique and many other printing services recommend 300 DPI/PPI.

Even if your file is the right size and resolution and looks great on your calibrated monitor, you may be disappointed with the final print if you don’t print images with the correct color profile. Adobe RGB and P3 have a wider color gamut than sRGB, the color profile commonly used on the web and for in-camera JPEGs (although most cameras also offer Adobe RGB for JPEGs ). Your monitor may not be able to display the full gamut of Adobe RGB, so check your specific monitor’s specifications to see what kind of color performance it promises. However, even if you can’t “see” the full gamut of Adobe RGB on your monitor, many print services accept the color profile and your print will show a wider tonal range than if you had submitted a file. sRGB.

The file format you selected may not have as much impact on the final look of your print as you might think. While photographers often embrace the benefits of RAW, for example, when it comes to printing, JPEGs can be fantastic. Thapa has never seen a difference between printing from a properly sized and edited JPEG file and an uncompressed TIFF file. Of course, you should always do your editing in RAW and save your output to a high quality non-destructive file, but a maximum quality JPEG file is sufficient when it comes to your print output image file separate.

Beyond the four critical components, Thapa also addresses some common printing issues, including making large prints from poor quality files and what type of print media is best for you. To hear his thoughts on these topics, be sure to watch the full video below. To learn more about Mahesh Thapa, visit his website.

(via Adorama)


Recommended reading: Printing your photos is a rewarding and useful part of the photographic process • Tips and tricks to help you get started printing your photos

Elaine F. Brim