Printed my first image

July 27, 2015

I’ve actually never been that into the printing part of photography, mostly because I’ve felt that it’s a lot of hassle for nothing (it’s both easier and faster to have all the images digitally available on your computer). But these last couple of weeks I’ve been wanting to try and print something. It’s actually part of a bigger personal project that I’ve put out some feelers for, but nothing I’ve yet been able to commit to.

walking_away
The original edit of the image.

Anyway, I decided that I’d try to print out one of my favorite pictures, an image that I captured last year when I was in Åland. It’s Johan and Anders walking down a lonely road with their fishing gear, captured with a Canon 5D and a Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 (130mm, ISO 500, f/3.2, 1/500s). I really like this image, but I can’t tell if I’m biased because I loved the trip, or if it’s actually a good picture.

I had originally edited it with quite a lot of grain, but hadn’t photoshopped it at all. So the first thing I did was to find the original in my archive (I always store my original raw images), tone down the grain, remove the distracting orange rod at the left side of the road, and that was basically it. I exported it as a 300-something DPI .tif image. I choose their largest print, which is basically an A4, on matte paper (I was hoping that it would’ve been “paper-matte”, but it ended up being more like glossy paper with texture).

walking_away_edited
The edited version for print. You can’t really tell in this small resolution, but a lot of the grain is removed.

I decided to use Ifolor, I wasn’t really looking for high quality printing, but rather something relatively cheap, and relatively fast. Sadly, when I tried uploading my image, I noticed that they only accepted .jpgs, so I had the re-export it as such. And I had to remember that I needed to export it at full quality, since I usually only export for web, I tend to try and keep the file-size down by losing quality.

The total cost ended up being 2.95€ for the print and 2.95€ for the shipping fee, so not that expensive. I ordered the print last Wednesday, and today, Monday the following week, it came through.

I was really excited when I got home from work and noticed the package. I ripped it open, and took a look at the image.

photo_stand
I tried finding a fitting frame for the photo here at home for this picture, but couldn’t find one, so the stand had to do. Also note that while the print was rather dark, it wasn’t this dark.

I actually really disliked it. Besides that the printed version is a lot darker (note for future self: lighten up images before printing), the image itself feels really weak, or rather, it’s like it’s missing something in the composition, something which I’ve never noticed before.

Intrigued by my findings, I decided to print a batch of other images, 45 images to be precise. I choose the images based on a set of different qualities, strong colors, black and white, desaturated images, etc. And most importantly, I picked images that I both liked and disliked, to see if my perception of the image will change as I see it on paper.

batch-of-images
A subset of the pictures I sent for printing. Some of them I’ve published, but a lot of them I haven’t.

This time though I didn’t get the large copies (A4), but instead opted to go for the normal sized ones, since I’m not going to pay 135€ on a bunch of rather random images just to test how I feel about printing and seeing my own images on paper. Don’t get me wrong, I would spend that amount of money on images that I’d know would turn out great, but at this point I’m only playing around.

To my delight, Ifolor had a 50% sale going on, so one print cost only 0.09€, so the total set ended up costing me around 5€ (with 2.95€ shipping), easily worth it. So now I’m sitting here just waiting for the images to arrive, hopefully they’ll be here on Thursday.

Anyway, the point of this post is not about printing per se, but more about how printing changed how I felt about one of my own images, and it feels like I really should print more often, so I can reevaluate my own images. It’s also pretty fun choosing images for print, mostly because I noticed how almost all of my images aren’t even worth the cost of 10 cents to print, in other words, I have a lot of room for improvement.

If you’re at all in to photography, do try and print some of your work, you might get as surprised as I was!

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