Fundamentals for Great Prints

Lesson 9/9 - Black & White Printing Tips


Fundamentals for Great Prints


Lesson Info

Black & White Printing Tips

Love printing black and white, oh my gosh, I am a black and white groupie. I love black and white, this is my hometown, this is Gig Harbor, love Gig Harbor, and I love black and whites of Gig Harbor, this is foggy day, these are the fishing boats and the little fishing village that we have down there, and just black and white made it scene, you know, just a lot of character in this image, a lot of portraiture, looks fantastic with black and white. So what do we need to think about when we create black and white prints, it's all about contrast. Black and whites is all about contrast management. There's no color, see in a color print, color is what gets you excited about the scene, but in black and white, contrast is what gets you excited about the scene. The difference between the highlights, and the shadows, the whites and the blacks, in this case I amped up the contrast, so a lot of times with landscapes, and even some portraiture, having great high contrast helps the photo significan...

tly, get those, not every photo, but most photos really benefit from nice solid dark blacks, so a lot of times, remember in Lightroom there's that black slider, I'll go into that black slider and I'll just move that down, I'll make those blacks solid black. And then, noise, grain, works with black and white, where as it doesn't necessarily work with color, in fact, let me show you this great print, from one of our instructors this week, she shoots film, I just spaced on her name, it's... Sandra, yeah, Sandra, she shot, here we go, let's see if, who can pick this up, I'll try to hold it really still, this is a film shot, printed on this Canon printer right here, right before you guys came in today, and there's a lot of grain and noise on their faces, and on the backdrop, but that's film grain, and it looks cool, I like that. Now if I took this shot with my, with the owl photo and I had that amount of grain and noise, I don't think it would work as well, but here in the case of the film, grain, noise, it's okay. So the joke that we always tell as professional photographers, is that if it doesn't work in color, then convert it to black and white, add a bunch of noise, and it's art, you know. (laughs) There's a lot of truth to that. So use, if you want that black and white to really pop off the paper, use something like a glossy, and then the matte papers often don't exhibit those deep blacks just like we saw there in that Galapagos photo, those deep blacks don't exist, we can get there, but it takes a little more work, so that question that came in from the internet earlier about black and white, do you recall, does this answer kind of what they were talking about. Uh-huh. How do you make sure what we are seeing on monitor, reflects on the print, like the colors and saturation. Yeah, we didn't talk at all about calibration, and the next course is all about color management for even better prints, but the key, and I'll just give you, one of the most important things that you can do, is to get one of these, this is a color profiler, got a couple boxes here to show what it is exactly we're looking at. So these screen calibration tools, these are both made by X-rite and they provided these calibration tools for this class today, the one that I recommend if you're a little bit more technically minded, is the I1 display pro, the one that I recommend if you're like, I think I'm supposed to calibrate, but I don't want to do anything, I just want to push a button, get the color monkey. They're both very high quality, high end, but the interface with this one is much simpler, the interface with this one is definitely much more professional, it allows you to pick color temperatures and profiles and save things and do regional calibration on your monitor, so that's the key, calibrate that monitor, so that what you see on that monitor, is what you get in that print. And you guys can't see my computer monitor but this is the Michael Clark print we just made, I got to be honest, it looks almost identical to what I'm looking at on the screen, that's the key, calibration. Other questions? Is there any difference from working on the nef version versus the dng for printing or anything else? Great, for all practical purposes, so what he's talking about is the raw file format, so in the Nikon world, your raw file is called a nef, a Nikon electronic file, in the Canon world, your raw file is a CR2, Canon raw version two, Adobe has their own version of raw called the dng, digital negative file, and guess what, Fuji's got theirs and Sony's got theirs, so everyone's got their raw file. At the heart of the raw file, is a big hunking tif, most raw files are kind of based on the tif file format, so you've got a lot of data tifs are uncompressed, raw files are typically kind of uncompressed, there's some caveats to that, obviously, so to answer that question specifically, it doesn't matter so much, if you've got a raw file that is truly a raw file that either came right out of the camera as a nef, or it has been converted using Adobe into a dng, you still have all that data, all of that horsepower behind it that you can manipulate, the advantage of a dng is that its cross platform, Adobe is going to be able to use it, you know, everyone is going to be able to use dng, and Adobe's hope is that into the future, all software will kind of migrate that way, the advantage of using a Nikon raw file is that the Nikon software, if you use that software, is integrated very tightly with the Nikon raw file, so a lot of the settings you make in your camera, you can also turn off and on in the Nikon software. After the fact, so if you use something like Nikon capture or if you use Nikon view, these software packages, they integrate very tightly but the thing with the Nikon software is it doesn't integrate in your ecosystem of other software, so you have to pick and choose what software you're going to use, but in general, don't worry so much about the raw format, other than just shoot raw, and if you're an Adobe shooter, anything, the Canon, the Nikon, or the Adobe dng file will work pretty much the same. Question in the front? I was just curious if there's any difference between Photoshop and Lightroom when printing, like black and white or color, like is one better for the other, is there any difference? Okay, cool, at the very high level, there's no difference, in other words, you're going to get the same image quality for black and white or for color whether you come from Lightroom or Photoshop, because they're both basically using the same engine to process color, and what they do is they hand off the information, to the printer driver, the printer driver does all the color translation, so the color translation from Canon is going to be consistent and then the color translation from Adobe is also consistent from Adobe Photoshop to Adobe Lightroom and then I'm going to make one more little addendum to that, if you use like, the Nikon software, like the Nikon capture software, it has it's own engine for converting color, and some people say that the Nikon software is a better printing platform for Nikon files, because they just work together so well, so you know, I know some pros, some Nikon pros, actually prefer to use the Nikon software for printing, because they like that color engine, so. There's a lot of nuance there, right, my encouragement to you now is just use the Adobe stuff that you're used to, until you get to some level, and you're like, you know, I'm at 98% awesome, but I want to get to 98.5% awesome, and at that point, start thinking some other stuff, yeah, question in the back. So you mentioned printing to the big box, like Costco, Yeah. I already know how to turn autocorrect off so that they're not messing with the file on the rend, but how do I, because, I upload a jpg file or a png file to them, how do I save my file out so that it matches their printer profile? Okay, so what you're going to do, let's see, I'll just try to answer this, you are going to do something called soft proofing, okay, so I'm going to show soft proofing in the next class, you're going to be in the next class, so, soft proofing allows you to get a preview of what that image is going to look like off of the Costco printers, so what you're going to do is you're going to go hey, show me the soft proof, ooh, there is a soft proof, I don't like what it did to the reds. Okay, now working in soft proof world, I'm going to enhance the reds, I'm happy with that now, save it. Now when you save, save it and then export it in Lightroom palette, then I'm going to export it with that Costco profile, and the adjustments that I made, now that it's saved out as a jpg, it has the Costco, or, you've edited it to the Costco profile, so now when Costco prints it, I'm happy with that red, does that make sense? Soft proofing, alright, I think probably the last question? Okay. How do you save the prints for framing later, like does it effect the, like if you keep it open in the air does it effect the colors and other things, store it with... Oh, so storage of prints, and taking care of our prints, okay, cool, yeah, you know, these days, we're like in the golden age of ink jet printing, Canon because they supply these printers, I'm just going to talk about them, they've done amazing work with ink longevity, and paper longevity, so these prints are going to last well over 100 years, maybe even 200 years, on your wall, you know, not maybe in the direct sun, but they're going to be just fine, so you don't have to think too much about protecting the print for longevity, if you are concerned about that, you can get special like UV resistant glass, and store it, you know, put it in a room where you don't have like harsh direct lighting on them, but for all intensive purposes, you don't have to worry about that anymore. Just print it out, present it, it'll be good for 100 years on the wall.

Class Description

To see a photograph at it's most powerful it needs to be printed. In this course, Mike Hagen will teach the basics of printing amazing photos. He'll cover settings and exports to print from Lightroom® and Photoshop®. The different sizes and aspect ratios to consider as well as how to sharpen for best quality. He'll show the different considerations for choosing the best paper and more. Start building your print portfolio with these essential tips in getting quality prints.


Dennis Walsh

This is a good fundamentals class. Mike is an excellent teacher. If you are just starting printing, this would be a good choice. If you are more experienced at printing it is probably too shallow. I thought the price of the class was high for the time and detail of the lessons.


Good solid fundamentals class for beginners. If you're a fairly seasoned pro wanting to refine your output techniques, you'll probably find this class too general. It concentrates on the basics of achieving a good image with a basic overview of printer settings and Adobe output dialog boxes.