I’ve written about this before but I wanted to rant about this a bit once again: if you aren’t printing out your images, you are missing a great opportunity to make your images better. I’ve been intending to get around to updating the images on my wall for a few weeks and a couple of nights ago, I fired up the printer and got started. The first image I started on was this one of the lighthouse on Bandon Harbor.

Bandon Lighthouse Sunset, Bandon Harbor, Oregon

This was a shot I made when I first started experimenting with long exposure images with ND filters, and I really like it, and I’ve been meaning to get it printed out and onto my walls for a while.

There was a problem, though. While I think that image looks find on a screen, as soon as I printed it out, it came out dark and muddy and pretty damned ugly. So it was time to optimize it for print. I increased the sharpening, lightened it up and tweaked the contrast. Two or three tweaks and two runs through the printer and I had a print I was really happy with.

Even better, when you look at the changes, it looks even better online, too:

Bandon Lighthouse Sunset, Bandon Harbor, Oregon

Do you see the difference? To me, they are both subtle and significant. Took me 20 minutes and I think the images is now much better for having been evaluated as a print and tweaked. This is a great example of how adding the printer into your processing workflow for your best images can improve them, even if they exist primarily on a screen and not on paper. And now that image lives happily on the back wall of my office in the webcam view of honor.

My print workflow is fairly simple: to keep costs down I’ll do my initial prints on good 8×10 glossy paper. Once I’m happy with the print at that size, I’ll print it larger — I usually print at 11×14 for my walls. If I’m going to shift to a different paper (I love the Epson Exhibition Fiber but it’s characteristics are a lot different from standard glossy) I’ll do another test print on that paper at 8×10 before printing a final image on the larger (and rather expensive) papers.

So for an investment of about 40 minutes, I have a much better image and I have a really nice print on the wall. At least for now, since I plan on rotating images every 3-4 months from now on so I’m always pushing new images through the printer to see what happens…