Making It Look Good.

Recently I shot a wedding for a friend and as part of it I found myself doing something that has become fairly rare for me, actually printing the photographs. I love prints, despite most images that I create now only ever seen only electronically there is still something far nicer than a print or set of prints. Try sharing and passing a stack of photos around a room with family or friends with only one computer screen or iPad. It’s not a social experience unlike a set for physically printed photographs.¬†In the past I have got prints produced by dedicated photo printers in London but on this occasion I decided to try myself as I was only needing prints no bigger than A4.

Currently we have an Epson sx600fw printer, which is an all round printer not dedicated to photo printing. The prints from it are petty good if not a little expensive to run, as each of the four individual colour cartridges have what it feels like a less than a thimbles worth of ink in each of them. The paper is not to cheap either, not far off the price of old school photographic paper and that was covered in silver.

After I had edited down the images I shot at the wedding I adjusted them in Aperture my photo imaging program of choice. Each of the images corrected for exposure and contrast as well ¬†tweaked the framing on a few. Following this I marked out a selection of “formal photographs” which I was going to print and this is when the fun started.

I loaded the paper Epson Ultra Glossy paper into the printer and pressed print using the highest and best settings I could. The print did not look like I was expecting it to the colours were dramatically different as was the contrast. Several attempts and a sizeable amount of paper and ink later I got the look I was after and applied it to all the images I was to print. Not the cheapest way of getting what you want.

Not wanting to go though that all again I started looking at calibration to take out some of the guess work out of printing. Essentially I needed to make sure what I was looking at on screen matched what was coming out of the printer. After much online research I decided to start with the calibration of my screen and external monitor. This lead me to Color Munki Display from X-Rite. Its the cheapest in their line and still not that cheap at around one hundred pounds the same price as some external monitors. I honestly wasn’t expecting to see much or a difference between my MacBook Pro’s screen before and after calibrating but it was dramatic as seen in the photos below.

After the MacBook Pro I tried it on my external monitor which I hardly ever use as it looked nothing like my MacBook screen and quite frankly a little ugly in its picture performance. Now however it matches the MacBook and is very usable especially as it is 7 inches bigger ideal for editing video. It turns out that every monitor is different and even if it is new there isn’t a guarantee that it will be accurate in terms of its colour. There is also another very good reason for doing this and it involves product photography and branding as each brand has it’s unique requirement and rules regarding their design and colour and just because it look right on my monitor I couldn’t guarantee that it right as a base for everyone else you use, whether on screen or print but now I can.