Trying to produce an impressive printed image from a photograph you’ve taken can be quite a tricky concept due to the amount of different factors involved. Read through our guide for some tips and tricks on creating the best quality photographs for print.
It’s easy to imagine the scenario – you’ve taken some photographs that you feel proud of and want to show off to the world. You could use any number of Social Media networks or even a photo sharing website to upload your photo to. But what about if you wanted a physical copy to display at home or even in the workplace? Producing the best photographs for printing revolves around five technical elements – colour, contrast, sharpness, size and resolution. Don’t forget about the type of printing paper you use too!
Colour and Contrast
Unless you are planning to print your photo out in greyscale (black and white), the colour and contrast of your photo is top of the list of important factors you’ll need to understand and consider. If your photo contains colours that are high in saturation such as red or orange, you may need to tweak the saturation levels using photo editing software so that these colours don’t overpower the final result. Likewise, if your photo uses colours lower in saturation like grey and black, then these will need to be altered too so that your print doesn’t look too drab or washed out. If you are still having issues with balancing the colour scheme of your photographs, try calibrating your screen as these can sometimes project incorrect shades of colour.
If you are hoping to draw attention to a focal point of your photograph, then you’ll need to align your levels of sharpness effectively. This is again a balancing act – too much sharpness will leave your photo looking overproduced and can actually destroy the quality of the image. Some general advice is to keep the sharpness level of your photograph above halfway on the slider usually featured in photo editing software, or above 50 if it uses a numerical scale. Getting sharpness to the right amount is the easiest way to get your photograph to stand out when viewed from afar.
Size and Resolution
So now that you’ve adjusted the colour and contrast of the image along with the sharpness levels, you’re ready to print right? Wrong. One of the most overlooked aspects of creating photos for print is the size and resolution. Whilst you’ll have an idea of the type of size you want the final result to be, you still need to set the correct resolution depending on the purpose of your photo. Is it to be hung up or displayed as a high quality artistic piece? Then make sure the resolution is high enough to reflect this (either select 600 or 1200dpi). If you are hoping to produce a photograph for use on a poster or smaller printed media, then 300dpi is the best option to select. A helpful tip – try printing off some ‘test’ versions of your photographs using different resolutions before committing to your final print out.
Don’t Forget the Paper!
Of course, all these factors rely on you making sure to select the right paper to print on too! The Find My Supplies website contains a whole host of different paper sizes and prices, no matter the purpose. Use some Photo Paper if you want to create vibrant, artistic display pieces. Otherwise Copier Paper is still a fantastic option if you’re creating posters and flyers from your photographs.
Keep these factors in mind the next time you create photographs for print and you’ll be a photo printing pro in no time!
HIP International – Artwork Guidelines
University of California Santa Cruz – Preparing Images for Web or Print
Digicam Guides – PPI and Print Size