This is the first part of a three part series on Printing your photographs.
With the explosion of social media and image sharing, printing options have taken somewhat of a back seat. I am looking into the latest technology and possibilities to the photographer who is still looking to produce a physical image. In this three-part series I tell about what is available, how to prepare your images for optimal results, and helps us wade through printers, commercial labs, and the many papers choices.
It’s 2019 and the art and pursuit of photography continues to evolve at a fervent pace. Technology roles on, not only with the cameras, lenses, and equipment we use, but in the ways we present and share our images to the world. Interestingly, in the last five years or so, the technology for creating a physical representation of our photographs has made only incremental improvements in printing technology.
This is for several reasons. Printer manufacturers have reached a point where putting an image on paper has reached a pinnacle. Never have there been so many options to the print maker. You can print your images yourself at your home or studio, you can visit a local commercial lab, or you can upload your digital photo files to an on-line printing service, and I am sure there are a myriad of variations in between. As these options have matured we are now able to create prints that well surpass the resolution, acuity, accuracy of color, tone, depth, and dynamic range, and just as importantly, the longevity of the medium, than ever before.
Yet, with all this technology and convenience at our fingertips, print making is in decline. More and more of us have turned away from prints simply because it is more convenient and easier to share and with more people if we post our favorite shots online. Just as we have forsaken music on disc for digital music files, so has this been the way of the photographic print. There is certainly no denying the convenience of modern media but there is something lost when listening to compressed music files and there is certainly a lot lost when viewing a smallish JPEG image on a computer display rather than holding and viewing a beautifully executed photographic print made on high quality luxurious photo or fine art paper.
As this continues to trend in this direction printer manufacturers who base their models on inkjet print heads are concentrating the majority of their research and development dollars on printers for business and commercial uses. Solvent ink based printers get a lot of attention and are used for outdoor signage, vehicle wraps, large scale banners, and the like, applications that will dish out a lot of abuse and exposure to the elements. In spite of this desktop printers for photographs are not disappearing from the market as I believe there still is a stable and mature market with top quality output available.
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