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Printing and Sharpening  

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Ulana
(@uswitucha)
Joined: 4 years ago
Posts: 554
April 24, 2020 9:06 am  

I don't print much but am taking this time to learn more about it.  

What are your practices for sharpening when printing. 

This topic was modified 7 months ago by Ulana

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Randy S. Tesch
(@rstesch)
Joined: 1 year ago
Posts: 132
April 24, 2020 9:56 pm  

@uswitucha

Ulana,

I don't have a lot of experience either.  I have about a dozen 20 x 30 inches (50 x 75 cm) metal prints on aluminum.  However, my early printing on paper with a local printer often resulted in three or four prints being made before I had my image file tweaked to the specific printing process.  Now, it is one file emailed to the distant printer.

- Randy


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John Motzi
(@jmotzi)
Joined: 4 years ago
Posts: 429
April 25, 2020 10:03 am  

Hi Ulana,

Print sharpening is a bit like raw pre-sharpening in that it's a global application and only there to overcome the loss of sharpness from the device.  If you are not printing much or just starting out in printing, then my advice would be to keep things simple.  

On can get quite good results from using the print module in Lightroom.  Sharpening there is built in - all you have to do is select low/medium/high, and LR will calculate on output the sharpening required for the print size, paper type, etc.  It's simple and easy.  Others will swear by their expensive RIPs and complicated sharpening routines, but frankly your choice of paper probably has a larger effect on determining what type of output you like.  I would suggest spending time on choosing papers rather than complicated things for now.

Currently I print from Photoshop.  I take my master file, flatten it and then change the size to the actual size it will be on the paper.  The I use the PixelGenius PhotoKit Sharpener™ module to create the sharpened layer which can be further adjusted up/down for strength. It's a step more control than Lightroom but still very simple.  Even if your print from a RIP, you can still use the same sharpening method.

PixelGenius is no longer in business but makes the 2018/19 version of its software available as freeware.  If your are using a Windows machine it should be ok.  For mac, it worked until the new OS Catalina, but it's unclear whether it still works with new OS which has outlawed many older programs  (I've seen reports both ways).

One very important aspect for printing is monitor calibration.  One's monitor must be calibrated or what one sees is not what one gets (WYSINWYG 🙂 )  Also one common error that people make is to perform their edits on a black screen and/or have their screen too bright.  Both practices will generally give you prints darker then what you expect.  Background color makes a huge difference on our perception of both color and lightness/darkness.  For screen brightness, a setting no higher than 120 cd/m² is recommended.  I think I run mine around 100.  You should be able to view a white background without tiring your eyes.  If your eyes become tired (and you have normal eye sensitivity) then likely your screen is too bright.

I think I gave you more than you asked!  There are some good printing tutorials out there - I think one of the simplest and best is this one: https://www.brucepercy.co.uk/store/printing-masterclass

JM


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Ulana
(@uswitucha)
Joined: 4 years ago
Posts: 554
April 25, 2020 11:40 pm  

@jmotzi @rstesch

Thanks for your replies.   I agree that Bruce Percy's book is probably the best resource out there in terms of explaining the process in clear language. I just re-read it the other day.   

Posted by: @jmotzi

On can get quite good results from using the print module in Lightroom.  Sharpening there is built in - all you have to do is select low/medium/high, and LR will calculate on output the sharpening required for the print size, paper type, etc.  It's simple and easy.  Others will swear by their expensive RIPs and complicated sharpening routines, but frankly your choice of paper probably has a larger effect on determining what type of output you like.  I would suggest spending time on choosing papers rather than complicated things for now

This is very useful.  What is an RIP?

I found a printer here that specialises in fine art photography and even has washi paper.  I have an appointment to meet with them tomorrow (only by appt - no walk ins) and do some test prints.  

 


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John Motzi
(@jmotzi)
Joined: 4 years ago
Posts: 429
April 26, 2020 8:21 am  
Posted by: @uswitucha

What is an RIP?

I found a printer here that specialises in fine art photography and even has washi paper.  I have an appointment to meet with them tomorrow (only by appt - no walk ins) and do some test prints.  

 

That printer sounds fascinating.  Even though I've created my own profiles I've not yet been successful with washi but it's probably because I've been trying to adapt finished prints from my usual workflow rather than finishing specifically for the paper in proofing mode.  The one I really like from a tactile perspective and would love to make work is Awagami Murakumo Kozo Select White.

A raster image processor (RIP) is a stand alone program that translates the file (typically TIFF) into a format that the printer understands and then manages the printing process.  I've heard some describe them as ultra advanced printing drivers.  It's odd to me that the term RIP is only used for separate programs, but obviously the built in bits of Photoshop and Lightroom that do the same thing are also obviously RIPs.  It's a bit like audio separates vs all in one units (which is a terrible analogy for anyone who is not into audio hardware 🙂 ).    

There are some specialized RIPS that deal only in B&W such as QuadTone RIP (QTR) which optimizes how the different inks (standard or custom inksets) are used to produce really nice B&W output.  Of course there are separate calibrations involved.  For QTR there is a nice guy Richard Boutwell who has developed great software to make the calibration quick and easy.  I'm not knowledgeable on color RIPs (I am a heathen and just use Photoshop) but I'm sure that Raaj or Char have tons of knowledge there.

JM

This post was modified 7 months ago by John Motzi

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Ulana
(@uswitucha)
Joined: 4 years ago
Posts: 554
April 27, 2020 3:51 am  
I visited the printer today.  He does very high end work.   He has a set up fee for each file of about USD38.  The set up fee means he does all the work - the ICC profiling - everything.  You just choose the paper.   He carries Awagami paper as well as Ilford as his two main lines.   Alot of choice and you are so right about the tactile experience (even though with the virus we aren't suppose to be touching too many things).  
 
He also does Peizography. See link below.  The example in the link below does not prepare you for the real thing.  The amount of detail is astounding.  The image leaps off the paper.  Very cool. 
 
I left a test print and plan to continue this journey a bit further to learn more about printing. 

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John Motzi
(@jmotzi)
Joined: 4 years ago
Posts: 429
April 27, 2020 7:43 am  

Nice!  What size print is that?


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Ulana
(@uswitucha)
Joined: 4 years ago
Posts: 554
April 27, 2020 10:57 pm  

@jmotzi

A4 print.  


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Ulana
(@uswitucha)
Joined: 4 years ago
Posts: 554
May 4, 2020 2:03 am  

Another resource that I found is Guy Tal's Ebook on Landscape Photography.  It has a good printing section.  

I spoke with another printer who was recommended.  This printer used to work/print at Magnum in the UK apparently.    He recommended 80cd/m2 and never over   100 cd/m²  .    

Trying him out as well - like his pricing too. 


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John Motzi
(@jmotzi)
Joined: 4 years ago
Posts: 429
May 4, 2020 7:13 am  

Nice.  80-100 sounds good.  Keep us informed!


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Char Davies
(@cdavies)
Joined: 4 years ago
Posts: 133
September 5, 2020 5:04 pm  

I've been using Colorbyte's ImagePrint RIP for maybe six years. I started using it when I purchased my Epson 4900 (since retired, now using Epson P5000). Acquiring the Epson 4900 was my "getting serious" with printing moment. Just didn't want to screw around anymore with drivers, profiles, yada yada. A major component of the IP app is their custom paper profiles, for many different papers and the printer you are using (with five different viewing light options per profile). They will also build a profile, free of charge, for your papers they don't yet support. 

IP is built with the high-volume, wedding, commercial photographer in mind, with photo packages, etc. But it is easy to use for we one-off printers.

IP sharpens and sets the resolution on the fly, no matter what size the print. I don't need to Image Size... in PS and set the size and resolution and save a copy for every different size I'm going to print. That is a real time/headache saver. I do save a "print" version of the finished image, flattened and converted to 8-bit and perhaps touched with B Percy's luminance curve, to compensate for the slight printing tone flattening.

In short, with IP, I get a "perfect" print on the first try. 99% of the time the hard copy looks exactly like the image on the screen, given the inherent difference between reflected vs transmitted light. I also view prints with a GTI viewing booth.

Luminous Landscape has a number of recent detailed articles regarding ImagePrint.

I used and loved the PixelGenius tool, until no longer supported by the macOS. Raaj recommended FocalBlade and it seems to work well for capture and creative sharpening.

Ditto John's comments regarding monitor calibration and brightness - very important. Also important to be using a top-quality monitor. With my recent Mac upgrade I also added an Eizo CS2740 monitor - not the top of their line, but 4K and stunning.

Cheers!


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John Motzi
(@jmotzi)
Joined: 4 years ago
Posts: 429
September 7, 2020 7:22 pm  
Posted by: @cdavies

...I used and loved the PixelGenius tool, until no longer supported by the macOS. ...

Ok maybe I am a bit extreme (and a bit off topic), but....

In the basement studio I have an Early 2009 MacPro with dual 6-core processors and 32GB of memory. It runs OS 10.8.5 (vintage 2013) and is a great machine. I use it for tethering with my ancient (vintage 2010) medium format back (Mamiya DM33, aka LeafAptus II-7). The digital back has a firewire interface and I started suffering compatibility issues with newer Windows based machines (with a firewire card) and macs no longer have that interface for many years. Going back to this old, out of date MacPro, running an old OS and and old  CaptureOne Pro 7 (!) makes working with this old digital back so easy. With hardware and software all matched vintage, everything works without a hitch. While I love my Z7 for landscape photography, that old digital back is still the best thing I’ve used for studio work, especially color critical work. For editing, those captures are easily transferred to the main computer using the most up to date versions of CaptureOne, CC, etc.

When travelling I use my MacBook Pro laptop. It’s the 2013 version which was the first one to come with a SSD as the main drive. It’s a wonderful travel computer and there is nothing about the more recent versions that I prefer over this one. In order to avoid all the recent nonsense, I stopped updating the OS at Sierra (10.12.6), which means I am frozen at the 2019 version of CC. It’s not a big deal since I do not need the latest versions of everything when I am in the field. I can create Lightroom or CaptureOne libraries for initial edits with no problems for transfer later to my home editing computer.

My home editing machine is Windows based and runs the latest versions of all programs.  But it only gets OS & software updates once I am satisfied they have dealt with issues they have created.  So maybe I am at times a few months behind.

So in some things I refuse to be "forced" into using the latest and (not necessarily) greatest, just because it's the latest.  Lemmings R Not Us.

JM


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