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Hints and Tips for good colour inkjet photo printing

Great prints come from great files
If you shoot with a digital camera you will save the maximum amount of data by shooting in RAW format. This will allow you to use a wide gamut colourspace when printing, as well as many other advatages over JPG shooting.

 

Output in a wide gamut colour space
Modern inkjet printers have a huge range of colours that they can print. They usually exceed the default sRGB colourspace and can often can extend beyond AdobeRGB in some colour ranges. To deliver the greatest range of colours try to print from a wide gamut colour space like AdobeRGB or even ProPhoto RGB.
However be aware of any colour ranges that your monitor can't display and may give some unexpectedly saturated colours.

 

Check the gamut warnings and soft proof
Software packages often have a gamut warning feature or the ability to soft proof an image with a specific output profile. This can offer a pointer to any areas of your image that may be beyond the printer's gamut and not reproduce as expected. Unfortunately gamut warnings in programs like Photoshop or Lightroom are only crude on or off warnings, so it's impossible to know if a colour is only just out of gamut or substantially different. There are a few specialist programs like Gamutvision and Color Think Pro that can indicate how far out of gamut a particular image is, but it may not be worth the expense or time to worry unduly about this for many types of imagery.
The easiest way to deal with out of gamut images is to simply use perceptual rendering intent when printing. This will pull the colours into gamut and keep the relationships between all the colours and tones.

 

Sharpen appropriately
Sharpening is the final stage of delivering optimal prints. It should be done after the images have been resized for printing at the optimum settings for your type of printer. This is most easily done with a plug-in like Photokit Sharpener, Nik Sharpener Pro or similar. There are also some programs that handle final print size sharpening automatically like Adobe Lightroom or Qimage.

 

Learn to pre-visualise how prints will look
No matter how accurately your monitor is set up and how great your viewing conditions are, a print is always a different way of displaying an image. With practice you will get a good understanding of how the reflective print will finally relate to the emmisive monitor and edit your images to suit the printed image.