DO YOU STILL PRINT PICTURES?

Started Feb 1, 2013 | Discussions thread
John King
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Printing is an art, and grows one's photography
In reply to GroWeb, Feb 2, 2013

Gidday GW and Tony

GroWeb wrote:

Tony Beach wrote:

As an amateur I see mastering prints as the final frontier.

My thinking is very much in line with this idea. I have discovered that the art of producing for print is truly a step beyond the art of producing for screen. Some images that look great on-screen, look mediocre printed (a true test of how good they really were to begin with). And there are images that look anywhere from okay to great on-screen that burst into sparkling life when printed.

I started by just learning the most basic things such as EV, then moved on to composition and timing, all the time working on post-processing and learning from post-processing how I could go back and improve my capture and composition skills.

I have found that processing for print is significantly different than processing for screen. Printing changes the way I see my photos, and deepens my awareness of the details of composition, which feeds back into how I see and compose images in the camera.

I have made (what I consider to be) some excellent prints, including some 20x30 inch ones, and many of them are on my walls.

I find that the prints I now have hanging on my walls have a tactile reality (even when they are hanging out of reach) that viewing on-screen simply cannot even attempt to match. I wish I had a limitless acreage of wall space so I could go on indefinitely printing my best stuff to experience in this way. I think I will probably just end up rotating images between the walls and a growing amount of storage space.

Costco has been a cheap but generally satisfactory approach, but I'm definitely looking at higher end print shops as I continue to fill my walls with my work.

I love my Epson Stylus Pro 3880, which I purchased at the beginning of December 2012. It produces the same quality that any print shop can produce, though it is limited in size (17" wide -- which is as large as I have as yet wanted to print, and larger than most of my prints) and limited to the papers that I can afford to have in stock (but the ones I have are excellent). The great thing about printing at home is that I can proof my prints right here at home, and refine them before committing them to full size on highest quality paper. Then I can immediately print, trim, mount and frame the final image in the comfort of my own home, enjoying every little tactile moment of the experience.

I don't normally post here, but could not agree more with the sentiments expressed by you both. I also own an R3880, but shoot Olympus cameras (for digital). I have been keen on photography since I was about 13 y.o. after starting with a Box Brownie at around 8 y.o.

A number of my reasons for printing:

1) ALL computer monitors are low resolution devices. My IPS 1920x1200 Asus ProArt PA246Q will reproduce nearly an aRGB colour space (98%). BUT the limit of resolution is about 26,386 sub-pixels per square inch.

2) Almost all printers are high resolution output devices. The R3880 is laying down around 2880x1440 dots/inch^2, or roughly 4.1 million droplets per inch^2. All modern printers use variable size droplet on demand printing AFAIK, so even using an 8 colour separation, this printer is delivering far greater detail and subtlety of colour than is possible with any monitor realistically commercially available today.
Even with a print, an 8 colour separation should produce smoother colours with better gradation. IME this is true. Anyone viewing high quality Japanese woodblock prints would have been impressed with their glowing colour and delicacy. These were only a four colour separation, AFAIK.
Since the R3880 is a pigment ink printer, there is little to no bleed into the print medium (see: Jürgens "The Digital Print"). While dye based printers have far smaller droplet sizes, they also have considerable bleed into the receiving substrate (again, see Jürgens).

3) There is a tactile and visual quality to a print that I have yet to even experience looking at an image on a good (excellent?) monitor. True that monitors provide a different experience - transmissive rather than reflective.

4) I also agree totally with GW's statement about feedback and composition that I have bolded in his post quoted above. IMHO, there are two things that are lacking in many images. They are composition of form and colour, and critical sharpness. In particular, I have been struggling with the first all my life. I have read extensively and viewed many photographers' work in an effort to improve my "seeing". I rarely crop images, and when I have to I view it as (mostly) an admission of my own failure to properly pre-visualise the scene as it will appear on screen and in print. Printing helps in achieving this discipline, IMHO.

Enough ranting.
Happy New Year everyone ...

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Regards, john from Melbourne, Australia.
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