After a great day of shooting, working with clients, or color correcting, it appears it is time for print. Bringing your images from a digital format to a tangible one can be magical, but sometimes Confusing. Here at Image Wizards, we have a few suggestions on some of the basics of photo printing.
Printing a digital photo requires resizing the image to fit specific print size dimensions. One way to do that is to use Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom. These two are the most popular photo-editing software programs that provide a step-by-step process that’s easy to follow. Regardless of which software you use, one of the most important things to keep an eye out for is image size.
Here are a few key things to know before getting started.
When you’re ready to resize an image, don’t work with the original. Always save a master copy of the original in Photoshop or Lightroom and work on a duplicated image file instead. You always want to protect your original image files – just in case.
It is equally as important to save your work files as TIFFS. This holds especially true for people that shoot RAW. If you shoot RAW, and your Lightroom is changing your file-format to a JPEG, you are losing data! TIFF will retain all of your image data with zero compression to ensure you get the best quality print possible.
The resolution of an image plays a very vital role in the detail of your image. Normally, the best resolution for photographic print is between 240 and 300 dpi (dots per inch.) Be sure to double check the DPI when you’re resizing your image to ensure the resolution stays within this range.
So now that you have a duplicate TIFF file you are working with – how do you know how large you can have it printed?
There are two areas in Photoshop you will need to focus on (to our friends using Lightroom – these things may be in a different location but should be named something similar):
Image size is crucial. This is where you can set the physical print size, and you can monitor your DPI (Dots per inch). The DPI directly correlates to how well your image will produce. The larger the size, the lower the DPI. You will notice this as you change Width and Height. In the photo below you will see the ‘Resolution’ box. This is your DPI (also called PPI – pixels per inch). You should always aim for a DPI higher than 240, though it is not required.
Once you have sized your print, it is time to see how it will look at that size. The trick is to make an inch on the digital ruler match an inch on a physical ruler that we are hypothetically holding up to the screen. For some people (depending on monitor resolution) it is as simple as clicking View, then Print Size – as seen below.
Should the ruler NOT resemble an inch, you can just use your zoom tool to zoom in/out in order to make the inch a true inch.
Of course, there’s more to know. Check out Adobe’s Photoshop tutorials to edit and resize digital photos like a pro.
Then, think big and think metal. You may have thousands of images locked away on your hard drive, but one framed print on metal is a work of art you can admire for a lifetime.