Do You Print Any of Your Own Photographs?

Printing photographs has come a long way in just a short time. Years ago no one individual thought much about printing his or her own photographs. The lab technicians were the experts and so we dropped off or delivered film to them and waited for the prints to come back. Sometimes it seemed to take forever!

Enter the computer age and all this changed. Now individuals have the equipment to successfully print quality photos that rival and even exceed what the technicians did a few short years ago. The digital age is here and it offers some absolutely amazing possibilities for our photography!

I will admit, I was not too eager to jump onto the printing-your-own band wagon. Oh I did get a printer to give it a whirl, but the results were pathetic and downright awful. The colors were all off and the ink was blotchy. I could never give one of these prints to anyone nor would I ever want to hang one on a wall for anyone to see. So I let the photo lab do all my prints.

Recently, a good photo friend, Bill Weitzmann, was talking to me about how easy he found printing quality photographs to be for him. I listened carefully and tried to ignore the voice inside my head that was saying “been there done that unsuccessfully before.” Bill’s enthusiasm quickly touched and took hold of me. He made it sound easy and since we both use Macs, monitor calibration software is already built into our OS.

Leaving that exciting conversation, I decided to give printing another try. And boy am I ever glad I did!

I am not quite where I want things to be just yet, but the quality I am getting three days after my first attempt is nothing short of amazing. Bill provided detailed instructions for me to calibrate my laptop monitor and then have the printer read the color management from the laptop. The first print using his method got me so excited I could hardly contain myself!

My prints are still too dark but they are getting closer and closer to the quality I am after with printing on my own. I can see that at least some of my favorite prints will soon be hanging proudly on the walls of my home and our camp up in the mountains. The colors and the quality are mind-blowing to me. I never imagined this could be possible at this level.

I may share more details in-depth on a future blog post but for now I will just share a few things to keep in mind if you want to attempt this for yourself. And I highly recommend that you do! I was going to wait to get a more modern and better quality printer, but my Epson R320 is kicking out some fantastic results!

Printing Tips

1 – Calibrate your monitor
You want to be able to print what you see on your monitor and match that as closely as possible. Calibration is critical to get the best quality possible. This is even important to do when sending photos off to be printed at a lab, too. Otherwise you might be disappointed with what you get back.

2 – Use a color tablet
Kodak had an old book that included a color tablet, which is the spectrum of colors in the rainbow and various shades of gray. By matching this and tweaking the appearance in Photoshop you can get your printer to “talk” to your monitor and repeat the colors, so that what  you see on your monitor is what you’ll get when you print from your printer.

3 – Update Printer Drivers
I found out the hard way that this is a very important step. I suggest you actually do this first because it can save you precious time down the road later. My trouble was twofold: I upgraded the Operating System on my laptop and I was using an older style Epson printer, the R320. I was not even able to get the landscape printing feature to operate at all until I updated my printer drivers. I wish I had updated them right away before I got started as this would have saved many sheets of photo paper and much frustration!

4 – Consider Using Lightroom
Printing is definitely easy to do out of Photoshop or any other photo editor, but Lightroom allows for a broad variety of printing options. For example, in Lightroom I can print contact sheets, wallets, assorted layouts, backdrops, and much more; and it’s very easy! I love Lightroom to begin with as I use it to manage my photo database and edit all my select photos. I also use Lightroom to upload galleries of photos to my website. But now I know I am going to enjoy the Print Module, too. There are just so many neat options and features in Lightroom!

5 – Be Patient
This process of setting up your printer, calibrating your monitor, and getting it to all work together can be and probably will be frustrating at times. Only start this project when you have a decent amount of spare time. Be willing to make a few mistakes and keep trying to perfect the process. Patience will definitely pay off. I know this because I experienced it firsthand this week!

End of Year Madness!

Well, we are just about ready to say goodbye to 2010 and hello to 2011. Can you believe it?

Looking back over the past year, I have assembled some great photographic memories. Some are recorded for posterity in digital format, some of which you can see on my website. Other memories are etched in my mind and consists of terrific shots missed or great people I’ve met over the past year. 2010 has been a photographic blast for me!

In this end-of-season madness, I find myself doing some things that are important. I just upgraded my old wireless network router to a 300Mbps N Gigabit router. The main problem I was having on my network were IP address conflicts and slow speeds. I hope the new router will rectify these annoying problems. Upgrading equipment is important. I still have about 500 GB of empty space on my Drobo, so  an additional hard drive is on the short order list. I am still working on the Photoshop CS5 learning curve, which is pretty steep and will take me some time but will be well worth the effort.

All photo print orders have been fulfilled and it was a good year for me. I continue to learn the ins and outs of the photo business, which is exhilarating for me. Sometimes I stumble and fall, but most people are patient and a complete pleasure to work with. I am learning to streamline the process and am now able to offer more product services than a year ago.

And, of course, I continue to take time behind the viewfinder–my most favorite place to be these days, especially outdoors on a wildlife or sports shoot. Moments spent with the camera are “precious and few” to quote an old song.

I am excited to discover what the New Year will reveal for me photographically. I am looking forward to new opportunities and new learning!

Yes, 2010 was a great year, but I believe 2011 is going to be even better!


Print Quality Prints

This might sound like nothing more than common sense, but I see it happen way too often and I just shake my head. Be sure to print quality prints. This is vital whether you are printing your own prints at home or if you send them out to be printed. Do not settle for low quality, high volume prints.

To see what I am talking about, take the same five photographs to a variety of printers and check the results. Like many things, you usually get what you pay for these days. Spend a few pennies for a 4″ x 6″ print and you will get a photo worth just a few pennies. Go to a quality printer, print that same print, and you will be amazed at the difference!

One of the drawbacks to digital photography is that now many photos are stored safely away on hard drives but rarely if ever see the light of day. Print some prints! Make some enlargements and display some of your photographs. But remember–print quality prints!

Big Print Action

Today I picked up some 12″ x 18″ photographs that I had printed. They are baseball action shots, most with the ball frozen in place. These larger prints sure are nice! They allow some details to be seen with incredible clarity. The larger size allows for proper hanging on a wall so that passers-by can enjoy viewing the photographs.

Action shots are some of my most favorite subjects. There is one of a base runner attempting to steal a base, while the fielder is catching the ball and about to put the tag on. Portraying action in a flat photograph is not an easy proposition. This challenge is one I enjoy very much. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it. Many just don’t have the patience to work a subject or wait long enough in a game to capture these kinds of shots. I am learning more and more all the time and seeing these larger prints was a great step in this learning process.

I am liking larger prints more and more. Bigger is sometimes better and I think prints fit this category nicely.

These prints will be on display at The Lehigh Valley Baseball Academy walls where many players and parents will be able to enjoy them. I am hoping that they are received well and enjoyed by all those who take the time to look at them.

In the meantime, I will keep going out to the field and try to hone my action photography skills. I have so much more to learn!


The old saying is definitely true: “A picture is worth a thousand words.”

I also remember a song with these lyrics: “If a picture paints a thousand words, then why can’t I paint you?”

Memories–we all have them. Some are remembered much better than others and some are even crystal clear, while others fade into the dark recesses of our minds never to be heard from again. One thing can help keep memories alive–a photograph!

Many families have lots of photographs. Have you ever sat down with your family to identify the people in some old photos? This exercise is an important one. A photograph is a great memory-keeper but only if we can identify the people in the photograph 5o years later. Some families choose to write the names on the back of the photograph. Now, digital photographs can be marked in a similar way on the front of the photograph.

I have suggested before on this blog that there is nothing quite like a physical photograph. Placing family photos in an album is a great way to keep memories alive for a long, long time. Digital frames are nice, too, but they require electricity or battery power. Albums only require human energy to turn each page as the photographs jog precious memories.

Do you have some photographs that bring back special memories for you?

Fast Workflow

Digital workflow is a common conversation these days. How do you take your digital photos in your camera and get them to some usable form? Workflow is the process you use to process and edit your digital photos. What software do you use? What process do you follow? Is it easy or complicated? Is it fast or cumbersome?

My workflow has improved with time and experience. I switched to using Adobe Lightroom and it is definitely better for me. I can now process, manage, edit, print, and create web galleries with great ease. I almost feel like a trapeze artist who “performs astonishing feats with great ease.”

My process is to upload the digital files from my camera into Lightroom. In the process I rename the files to reflect the date of the shoot and a unique sequence number. This way I will never have two files with the same name. If I do two shoots in a day, I simply start the file naming sequence where the first shoot left off. Once the files are in Lightroom I can pick the keepers very easily. Then I can edit the photographs as needed. The next step is either to create a web gallery or export photographs to be printed. Either way, Lightroom makes it easy to do.

My workflow is smooth these days and I have Lightroom to thank for much of this. You can give it a try yourself with a free 30-day trial. Try it and see if your workflow can become smoother and faster.

My Workflow

I love digital photography. In fact, I enjoy all aspects of the digital process. It reminds me of the days I spent in college behind the camera’s viewfinder on an assignment, in the darkroom developing the film and printing my enlargements, and mounting the photos on matte boards.

Lightroom is my software of choice for most of my workflow procedures. My good friend and photo colleague, Dick McCreight, was the one who showed me firsthand the power of Lightroom. It doesn’t hurt that it is also easy to use, too.

Once back from a photo shoot, I hook up my card reader to my laptop and upoad the photos. I rename the files with the date of the shoot & a sequential number for each photograph. This provides a unique filename for each one. I also make sure to add the metadata with my information on the upload.

Then in Lightroom I go through the photos and tag the keepers. I don’t worry about tagging the rejects; just the keepers, because I will only be working with the keepers. I also tag any photos I think might need some editing with a red colored tag. Once my keepers have been established, I go back through them and mark the ones I want to put up on my website with a green tag. At this point I try to remember to create a collection of these photos. Then I go into the Web module and create the web page gallery. All that’s left to do is upload the gallery to my website.

When I receive print orders, the process continues with me using the Print module to crop and then export the file to send to my photo lab. I have also started creating photo books, so in this case I will create another collection of the photos I want included in the book and then export them for the printer.

I am learning to streamline the process and I enjoy each step along the way. It is so enjoyable to see the photograph I made come to life step by step!

What is your workflow? Are there some tips you have to share? Leave a comment so we can all learn together how to perfect our workflow strategies.


The other day I mentioned that printing photographs is a good thing to do. It sure beats leaving digital photos in a hard drive never to be seen again.

So, what do you do once your photograph is printed?

There are several options. First, you could frame the print and hang it on a wall. Or you could take the prints and display them in an album. Prints are made to be seen. Hanging a print on a wall is a good way to keep it visible and in front of people’s eyes; even your own. When you are proud of a photograph doesn’t it make sense to keep it visible and have a constant reminder of your creative efforts?

I am currently assembling a proof album for a family. The album will display the photographs in an attractive way so the family can view the memories whenever they choose. The album will be a good way to re-live the memories that are on the printed photographs.

Assembling albums and framing photographs might seem like a laborious task sometimes, but the effort is definitely worth it. Give it a try yourself. Print some photographs and assemble them into an album. Or, frame some prints and hang them on a wall where they can be displayed for everyone to see. After all, photographs are meant to be seen!

Print Quality

I still prefer prints even in this digital age we live in today. A print is a beautiful way to share or display a photograph. Oh, I know that web galleries and digital frames are the current rave, and I do use these myself at times, but an actual print is still preferred by me.

The problem used to be that prints or negatives were stashed away in shoeboxes hardly ever to be seen. Now, digital photos are hidden on hard drives rarely to see the light of day.

Printing photographs is definitely well worth the effort. You just need to make sure you are printing quality prints. Forget about using the drug store or Walmart. Find a quality photo lab, which will cost a little more but will  be well worth the cost. For one thing, the quality of the colors will be better and they will last many years longer. The old adage, “You get what you pay for,” could not be more true when it comes to printing photographs.

Give it a try. Take some of your best photographs to a quality print lab and see how they turn out. If you get quality prints I believe you will very happy with the outcome.