One of the advantages of the digital revolution in photography has been that local photography labs can now produce images nearly at the quality of fine art labs, but at a fraction of the cost.
One of the advantages of the digital revolution in photography has been that local photography labs can now produce images nearly at the quality of fine art labs, but at a fraction of the cost. When the task of post-processing shifted from the darkroom to the computer, and therefore into the hands of the consumer, hobbyist photographers gained control of a large part of the photographic process previously left to someone else in a lab. Of course the ideal option is going to a serious fine-art imaging lab where knowledgable staff can teach you and walk you through the printing process – but the cost of these labs can be prohibitive, if you’re even lucky enough to find one in your area.
With these few easy steps, photographers can now have printing done at a local shop with high quality results for much less than going to a professional lab. (Warning – without a laptop, this method may take a few trips, but it’s still a money-saver on going to a professional lab)
1. Export your images from Lightroom (or whatever editing program you use) with the following settings:
Colorspace: sRGB (actually, this should match that of the shop’s equipment, but chances are the staff won’t know what this means, and 99 times of 100 it will be sRGB. Try asking, and if you get quizzical looks, set it to sRGB)
Resize to fit: unchecked
Resolution: 300 ppi (this doesn’t matter so much if you don’t have the image resized, but… do it anyway)
Sharpen for: check and select paper type
Amount: standard or high
2. Take the resulting files to a photo shop for printing, have them print one or two test images first. Preferably choose images with a wide tonal and color range.
3. Compare the test prints to your screen for brightness. Chances are the printed images will appear darker than your screen. adjust your screen (not the images!) so that its brightness appears equal to that of the test print.
5. In Lightroom, move the brightness slider until the image looks correctly adjusted again.
6. Adjust the temp and tint sliders to compensate for discrepancy between printer and computer. The sliders should be moved in the opposite direction of color shifting. In other words, if the print looks too green, adjust the tint towards the magenta. If the print looks too blue, adjust the temp towards yellow.
7. Export the image anew. Print new test files. Repeat steps 2-5 if necessary.
8. If the second round of test prints was satisfactory, copy and paste the brightness, temp and tint changes to the rest images you’re printing. Export the rest of your images with the new changes.
9. Print the rest of your images.
In the Bangkok area, we recommend Photo Unique in Soi Ari (02 619-5004), 50m down Soi Ari from the BTS on the left hand side. Ask for Khun Aey, she’s the most friendly and knowledgable of their staff.
If you don’t mind paying and want to go straight for a fine art lab, check out IQ Lab, with locations Silom and Petchaburi.