While wandering around Barnes&Noble last night, I found a book by Rob Sheppard that I had not seen before called the New Epson Complete Guide to Digital Printing. The odd thing is that the book has been out since last year but this was the first time that I had seen it at the book store. After flipping through the pages, I decided to add it to my shopping cart. It was school spirit night at the store so I felt it was my duty to help out by making a purchase. Anyway, I got a little time to start reading the book and even though I’m just a couple of chapters in, I have had a complete revelation about how I have been printing. Basically I discovered that I have been doing things all wrong. It’s not that I have been using wrong settings for my printer or anything like that. No, my big problem is that I have been chasing great prints by trying to match my prints to my screen. This has led to great frustration in the past in an effort to get a great looking print.
See, I realized that when I shoot, I have one of two purposes in mind, the computer screen and the print. The problem is that I have been doing all of my processing so that everything looks great on the screen without much thought about the print. Then when I would make a print, I would expect it to look just like it did on my monitor. This is really an unrealistic goal, especially considering that they are two completely different visual medias. Computer screens transmit light whereas a print reflects light so it is technically impossible to ever get a print that will completely match your monitor. And yet I would spend a ton of time making my image look good on the screen and then make a print, expecting it to come out perfectly matched. What I should be doing is making my basic image adjustments and then make a proof print. After the print is done, I should then use the proof to evaluate the printed image and then make corrections to the image based on what I see in the print, not on my monitor. There are other reasons for doing this such as being able to see the image at the size that it will be viewed instead of the size that it is being displayed on the monitor. This can make a huge difference when correcting the image.
I’ve just begun to dig into this book but I can already say that the first couple of chapters have already been worth the investment for me and my future prints. My other realization is that the perfect print is probably never going to be the first one that rolls out of my Epson, but by working from the proof, I might actually get there faster.