on September 13, 2013
A print is a thing of great beauty. A great print is that completed long pass down the football field at the end of a very exciting Super Bowl. You have captured that fabulous image, which it feels as if it took your entire career to capture. It looks terrific on your screen but it's just not translating to the paper.
One of the many areas we are called upon for our consulting expertise is printing. It frustrates many serious photo enthusiasts as well as some of the industry's top professionals. We admit to being frustrated by the process, ourselves. What's maybe even more frustrating is that being able to make that translation from the display screen to the paper is the scarcity of information on professional printing techniques.
The reviews we publish are our own journals. They serve as our reference notes. We want to be up front about disclosing that we travel in many of the same circles as the author, Jeff Schewe. We have never met nor even conversed, but he shares comments on product developments in a private professional online forum we frequent.
CH 1 - A DIGITAL PRINTING PRIMER - We strongly believe that it's not possible to know where you are going unless you understand what has come before you got involved. Jeff opens with an excellent review of the history of inkjet printing. For those who have not lived it, this sets the stage. Don't skip it. This is a fun read with some celebrity storytelling.
CH 2 - COLOR MANAGEMENT - Understanding color requires you to digest a fair amount of physics classes but this is far more exciting than we remember from high school. This is where too many books skimp and the complete story is never told. This chapter alone is worth the purchase price. At this point in our reading, we could confirm that this book earned a place on our reference shelves. It's a must-have, covering color theory placed in practical Applications. At this point, we're only 77 pages into this. If color models and color gamuts seem like something you'd never understand and you were ready to give up, the second chapter feels very inspirational.
CH 3 - PREPARING IMAGES FOR PRINTING - If you've been printing in Photoshop (Ps), and if you have not explored some of the Lightroom (Lr) printing features, it's something you owe yourself. What you learn here is our favorite thing about Lr, soft proofing. If you've been working in both, you'll appreciate Jeff's fresh approach. There's nothing here which made us think, "I don't need to read this." (And, we go back to Ps 2.0 and Lr 1.0.) Admittedly, the third chapter has some "I've never done that," moments for us to the point where we began to think, "I've gotta to that." Even if you're a known print master, you're about to up your mastery.
CH 4 - MAKING THE PRINT - Our second book has a chapter on printing. We tried to make it as interesting and visually appealing as possible. If we ever owned the crown, as Printing Explainer-in-Chief, we're passing it to Jeff, maybe with a tinge of jealousy for a job so well done that everyone who writes, presents, and consults should consider the bar raised and the new standard set.
CH 5 - ATTRIBUTES OF A PERFECT PRINT - We didn't give Jeff a penny to say this, but he opens the chapter with one of our ongoing mantras, "Start with a great image." In the previous four chapters he has set the table for the printing feast, but if the raw ingredients are not that good, the celebration will fizzle out. Nevertheless, many a print processing house will be asked to do great things with less than A+ images going to the output specifications the customer is providing. This would have been an incomplete volume if Jeff had not addressed what may result in something less than perfect, and he didn't disappoint. He even has a sidebar on signing prints, an issue we have pondered in the Past. And, of course it would not be the reference work readers need unless he also explored framing and print preservation, which he has done well.
CH 6 - DEVELOPING A PRINTING WORKFLOW - It might not occur to those readers, who are making a few great prints a month, that some of us have a daily workflow. It's not all printing. There are others who may be shooting, throughout the week, and need to schedule Bridge editing, Camera Raw processing, and Photoshop post-production into the week's schedule, along with print output. Along with a few topics, which didn't fit well into other sections of the book, this final chapter is an excellent reality check. The reader is forced to consider the time resources which must be devoted to great printing. Rather than frightening you, it ought to serve as an encouragement toward both efficiency and excellence.
CONCLUSION - Can you learn about making beauty prints from a visually boring book? It would be a struggle for us, but that's just a guess, because this one is inspirational in its graphics and design. More over, there isn't a better book on ink jet printing that we know of. It's extremely complete.
Of all the books we've reviewed, loved, and refer to often, we don't remember an easier one to give our whole-hearted 5 stars to.
on August 1, 2013
Again, in the spirit of Ansel Adams master series, Jeff has captured the necessary steps to take a digital "negative" and transform it into a print. He covers the process completely, except for one area: making, ordering and using custom profiles. While he does discuss them, I feel like he could go a little deeper into the topic. Other than that, this is the guide to printing we've all been waiting for.
on October 2, 2013
A very useful follow-up to the "Digital Negative" by the same author. Despite the predilection that the author has for technical detail, the book is an extremely valuable source of printing data for the one reader who is willing to fight his/her way through the morass of technical info. For the person, as myself, who wants to understand the basic principles of printing and printer information given in the various drivers, the book is a needed tool. To my knowledge there is no similar resource that concentrates exclusively and completely on the magic and mystery of printing and color control. Clearly this book requires multiple readings and re-readings. It should remain a valuable reference material for years. For the serious photographer who wishes to gain a thorough understanding of printing techniques, there is simply no other material on hand. I highly recommend it.
on September 6, 2014
I have been looking for a book that covers Photoshop and image color management in a concise and up to date manner. It's not a sexy subject, I but it's an essential one that distinguishes those photographers who do know it. I can spare you reading another tedious review - just get this book!
First of all, Jeff gets it. He knows what it is we need to know and is able to communicate it with a great deal of clarity - perhaps too much clarity for some! He starts at a logical place and takes you through the entire color management process as a procedural workflow - which is uber helpful even to us professionals. He covers tough issues like image sharpening and preparation for printing, workflow and final printing - all of which can be HUGE challenges especially when you consider how quickly technologies come and go and change. He gives you the core-level stuff you really need to need to know to make smarter decisions and dodge all of the mental masturbation people who truly have no idea what they are talking about are spewing with regularity on the Internet.
If there any weaknesses, it is probably that Jeff doesn't include anything about RAW converters like Capture One Pro, which would be nice since so many use it today. Maybe the next revision, Jeff? That's a pretty minimal nit when you consider the entirety of this work.
This is one of the best books I've acquired in a long time - and it should be on every photographer's shelf. In an nutshell, I don't think you can call yourself a professional unless you know this stuff - and this is one place to get it and get it correctly. This book isn't for the faint of heart, but it's essential knowledge covered in a logical way that is both understandable and comfortable.
on August 20, 2013
Having read the last book, The Digital Negative, I felt compelled to purchase this next book and I have not been disappointed. Jeff writes with the experience and knowledge from a life time of photography. The information is explained in a very down to earth, matter of fact, common sense way. The book is worth getting just for Chapter 5 it self, Attributes Of A Perfect Print. There's knowledge in this chapter you'd be hard pressed to find anywhere else, or take days to find and its all here in this one chapter.
The only gripe I do have is, I feel, is his unfair criticism of printing from Photoshop, over emphasising how time consuming it is making sure all those boxes are ticked correctly. When I have a print ready, I apply a Pixel Genius Output Sharpener, open the print dialogue make sure all the settings are correct and print, it only takes a few seconds. A man of Jeff's talent would whizz through this seconds. I think there's some subtle manipulation going on here to slowly persuade us to eventually move over to Lightroom, but I'm very happy with Photoshop, its more hands on. Anyway, apart from that, this is a highly informative book that everybody who has any interest in quality printing should buy. If you got this then you should buy the last one and if you got the last one you must buy this one, you'll never know what you're missing!
In fact if you have these 2 books and buy Martin Evenings new book, Adobe Photoshop CC For Photographers, or if you are into Lightroom his new Lightroom 5 book or both, these are all the books you'll ever need for still photography.