Virtually anyone with a computer will have printed out some photographs or images at some stage, and all of those people will have had mixed results.
The thing about printing out pictures is that it’s not always a simple case of just hitting that print button and expecting the software you are using (and the printer, for that matter) to do the work for you.
If you are looking for the perfect way to print out your favourite and treasured photographs and images, whether it be on photo paper or special canvas paper for an awesome canvas art print, here is what you need to know in order to become a photo printing god (or goddess)!
Do you know your dots from your pixels?
Should that be a resounding “no”, then let me explain something about images. A term used by the publishing fraternity is “dpi”, which stands for “dots per inch”. This basically refers to the detail of the image.
Images that you see on your computer screen are usually 72 dpi, whereas printers can typically handle 300 dpi or greater. In short, the greater the dpi of your image, the better the quality will be when it is printed out.
If you try to print out a photograph that is only 72 dpi, it will only have a decent amount of detail on it if it’s a small size. Stretch that photograph across a sheet of paper and you will end up with mediocre results, I am afraid to say.
Work with as big an image as possible
Images are also measured in pixels or pixels per inch. If you have an image that only has a resolution of 128 x 128, it will look rather small when printed out and abysmal if you try to resize it.
Yet if you have an image that has a resolution of say 4096 x 3072, for example, shrinking the image to fit the paper you are printing on will still look good (as long as you obviously maintain the aspect ratio).
Use some decent editing software
Whatever you do, please don’t use the photo editing software that comes bundled with your computer’s operating system. Not only is it basic, but it won’t have the tools you need to be able to successfully manipulate the photographs that you want to print out!
One of the world’s most-used photo editing software packages is Adobe Photoshop, but it isn’t cheap! There is an open-source – i.e. free – software package called GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) that is just as good, and works on Linux too.
Use a decent printer
Finally, make sure you are using a decent printer! If you are using a dot-matrix printer, you need to be dragged into the 21st century! And if you are using a cheap inkjet printer, I would strongly recommend you spend some cash on a proper photo printer if you want to achieve some good results!
They are pricier than standard inkjet printers, but you will thank me when you buy one!
Image credit: Mary-Lynn (obtained via Flickr)