Best Practices for Printing your Image at a Lab
And you can get great prints at the lab. And I do all the time. I actually probably print 80-90% of my photos at the laboratory. When I want the really great images, I will actually do them on an inkjet printer. So let's talk about lab printing and preparing for the lab. Let's go to the presentation, 'cause I think I have some notes there in the presentation. The things that you need to know about printing somewhere else are the color space they're using, the type of paper they're using, and maybe even doing a little bit of soft-proofing, just to make sure everything goes okay. So what I do is I actually work with my labs. I actually talk to them. I call 'em on the phone, and I say, "Hey, tell me about your printer system." And they'll say, "Oh, we have the Fuji Frontiers." Or they'll say, "You know what, "we're printing on Epson inkjet printers." I'm like, "Oh, that's so helpful, thank you." "Hey also, would you guys tell me "what color space are you using?" And they might say, "You k...
now what, send 'em over in Adobe RGB." I'm like, "Fantastic." I get that, I understand it, and when I save my images out, I'm gonna save them as Adobe RGB. Or, like Costco, they'll say, "sRGB, that's our color space." So you gotta know what color space your lab is using. When in doubt, just use sRGB. Okay, that's kinda the global standard, the lowest common denominator. Okay, if the monitor is calibrated, your monitor looks good, you know if your greens are green and your reds are red, you shouldn't even have to worry about what you're sending to the lab. As long as what you see on your monitor is calibrated, then your lab's gonna produce a print that looks good. And that's what that lady, that example I mentioned earlier, that's what she didn't do. She didn't have a calibrated monitor. She was using a monitor that she had never calibrated, so her purple looked way different than what the lab's purple did. So really, printing at the lab is easy, as long as you calibrate. In fact, I don't even worry about soft-proofing anymore for lab prints. I just look at 'em on my calibrated EIZO, and if it looks good, (snaps) off it goes. Upload it to their website, print it out. And then, output or export your images, as JPGs in sRGB space. Most of my lab prints go out as JPGs and I'm happy with that. I'm fine with that. Some labs will actually make their profiles publicly available, so this here is from AdoramaPix. They do great work. So I went to their website, and I found all of their paper and their profiles. So this is a little thing on their website. You click on these and you actually download the profiles to your computer and then you load 'em into the color profile area, and then you can look at them. And you're soft-proofing and say is this gonna match. So you can see that Audorama uses the Kodak stuff, Kodak paper, and it's all very good paper. Some of the labs that I recommend, Costco. You know, I showed you that giant print over there earlier today, that was a Costco print. You can do great work at Costco. AudoramaPix, very professional, good stuff, high-end. Mpix and Millers, they're part of the same general operation, they do very good stuff. They sell a few smaller panoramas. White House Custom Color, WHCC, very good, professional-level printing there. And then also BayPhoto.com. You know, honestly, if you use any of these five companies, you're gonna come out with good results. I think the key mostly is just to talk to them, and understand what they're using and work with them. Like I said earlier, they want you to produce beautiful work. They want people standing around your prints at home saying, "Where did you print that?" Send 'em our way, get 'em over here. So, printing at the lab. Let's see, what else do I need to show about printing at the lab? Maybe just do a quick export here on one sample image just to show you what that might look like. So, we'll take this one. We haven't worked on that one yet today. So I am now going to right click, and then I'm going to choose export. And then I could use one of my presets, which I already have set up. Like, you can see down here, it says, preset which is big, JPG, sRGB, sub-folder, add, so that tells me everything I need to know about that. It's gonna be a full-size, full-resolution image as a JPG in sRGB color space. But most of you don't have presets already, so let me show you how to do that. Go to export, and we go through this process again. I showed it once earlier, but I'll show it again 'cause now it's relevant. Where do you want that exported image to go? I'll just say in the same folder as the original. Do you wanna put it in a sub-folder? You know what, I do. Someone asked earlier how I managed these, and sometimes in Lightroom, I actually create a sub-folder for my prints, so I'll call it Full Resolution JPG, so that's the sub-folder's name. Add it to the catalog. Do I wanna rename it? No. File settings, JPG; color space, it's gonna go to Costco, or it's gonna go to AudoramaPix, so we'll do sRGB; quality, 100%. You know, these are gonna be big prints, so don't try to compress to save space. You know, use your internet for what it's worth. You pay good money for high bandwidth, use it. So 100 on the quality. Do you wanna resize it? In this case, no. I want it to go out to my lab in full resolution, so no resizing. You know, I could predetermine what resolution in terms of pixels per inch, but that really doesn't matter. All that matters is that they're getting all the pixels that I created. Do I wanna do some sharpening? Again, this is where you need to get on the phone. "Hey laboratory, tell me about your sharpening process? "Should I sharpen beforehand, "or do you guys do the sharpening?" Some labs will say, "Don't sharpen, "we do it, we know our system." And I'm like, cool, you guys handle the sharpening. For this example, I will sharpen, though. Watermark and post-processing, so we don't need any of those. And now I click export and it now will put that image out in full resolution. See in the upper left of Lightroom, it's exporting that file. And when that lil' white bar gets over to the end, I will have the brand new JPG in a sub-folder called Full Resolution JPGs. There it is and now we're ready to go. I'm going to now upload it to that printer's server on the web, and they'll make a print for me.