Thursday, December 13, 2007

Printing Is Hard

Actually printing isn't hard, it is getting the file ready to print that is hard.

I'm working on some 10 images that I spent maybe a 30 to 45 minutes total working over in Photoshop before I put them up on flickr. Maybe I should work them over more before I put them up on flickr but I doubt that I'll ever do that. To prepare a digital file for printing takes many times that long. I would say I've worked on each image, and I started out with about 15 images, at least three hours apiece, then made a small 5x5 print of each one.

All these little work prints were lined up on a table for editing and some of them didn't make the cut. Sometimes they don't make the cut because they just don't fit into the over all feeling for the total group. Actually in this group of images one of my favorites isn't making it because it just doesn't fit in with the saturation of the other images. And sometimes a print is weak or redundant when compared to the other prints. Often you see how you can make a better image so it is back to Photoshop to work on it some more, a little tweak here and another there. I wish I could see all these issues on the monitor. But most of the time I can't see them until I have an a workprint print in my hand.

This particular set of images were made with the Holga camera at the San Miguel fair in early October. This means film, which means the additional step of scanning and sometimes rescanning to get the best file to work with. Most photographers leave their Holga images with low contrast and muted colors. I love that look but when I worked on these images they just ended up saturated with color. Each decision, each click can be second guessed. Too dark, a little magenta, burn the edge? I get up and walk away from the monitor. I look again. Work some more. At some point, you just say, stop! It is the best I can do today and you push the print button. But getting to that print button is hard work.


pitchertaker said...

You get a big AMEN from me...


Anonymous said...

I'm glad I'm not the only one that feels that way. Here in Boston, I like to get my digital images printed at Costco on their lovely photographic paper printer. But between getting the picture right in the first place, and then translating that to the printer's gamut and settings, it seems like a heck of a lot of work.

Lately, I've been thinking of just bringing the digital files to Costco without all the fuss and see whether the prints come out a disaster or are just fine after all.


Kim G
Boston, MA

Howard Grill said...

You sure aren't kidding. Likewise, it only takes me a few minutes to make an image look good on-screen. But to make a print that is 'right', even with a color-calibrated system always takes me many iterations and lots of time. It is at the same time a labor of love and a time of frustration....but usually worth it in the end.