How to effectively print your image, part 2

For me it is clear that the image on screen is the ‘mother’ file. It is what I spent so much energy on to get it right, to make it articulate in expression, precise in focus. For me it is manifest that the digital file we work on so intense, is the reference for each output we choose to make. The image on screen is the best representation of the photo. All we do with it is a derivative.
And this was a bit of a shock for my photographer (read part 1 of this Blog). And that gave me a true insight into the mind of many a photographer. To call a print a derivative of a digital ‘original’ was a completely new perspective

A reason for this perspective
Of course I also feel strongly connected with something tactile and real like a print on paper. That is why I am in the business of book making, why I am less interested in just toning images for photographers. But creating prints that represent what we wanted to express in photography can only become effective and repetitively successful if we take this approach:

Concentrate on bringing the image to life exactly as we wanted it to be, then find out in detail what the deviation between the result on screen and the printed result is (all this of course assuming you have a proper colour managed workflow in place) and create a standard set of adjustments to compensate for this. Thus printing becomes a process.

You finalize your image on screen and safe this as your reference file for this one image. Apply your standard set of print adjustments for the paper you’re going to print on and compare your print with the reference file on screen. 9 out of 10 your print will show what you were working for.

Why then not take the print as your reference?
It is for the same reason that you should always make a test print if you print a book. You need a reference. Our eyes (or our brain) adept to what they see. If you see a poor print and start adjusting it without referring to another reference the next print will be compared to the first one. And, hey, you’ve made progress. The second print was in some ways better than the first. So you go on. In the end the reference to what you started out to create on screen in the first place is lost. Only when we go back to that reference can we assess the printed derivate of this image to its proper value.

Like my photographer who I invited to compare his drab prints to the original files and couldn’t believe he never before saw how far off the prints were.