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2 Tips For Successful At-Home Photo Printing

With only 190 one-hour photo shops open in the entire United States, more and more people are turning to home photo printing. Unfortunately, if you are like most people, you might notice that those pictures spooled from your home computer are a far cry from the professionally adjusted and produced photos you used to be able to print at your local grocery store. However, you might be able to boost your chances of home printing success by following these two tips:

1: Use the Right Paper

After picking up a ream of photo paper, you might feel like you are ready to get printing. However, printing those pictures on the wrong paper might be a recipe for disaster. Here are a few different types of paper you should be familiar with, and how it could affect your finished pictures:

  • Art Paper: There are a wide range of art papers available on the market, ranging from natural woven papers to paper embossed with painterly marks. Keep in mind that some printers won't work with thick or heavily indented art paper, and that your image might look different depending on what you choose to use. If possible, test art paper by printing smaller images before you waste an entire sheet on an 8x10 print.
  • Matte Paper: Unlike high-gloss paper, which reflects light, matte papers absorb light, making your blacks look even darker. Matte papers are perfect for black-and-white images or high-color pictures that you want to tone down.
  • High Gloss Photo Paper: On the other hand, high gloss photo papers are crisp and shiny, creating rich-looking colors. However, keep in mind that glossy papers might reflect underneath the glass of photo frames, creating extra glare. However, high gloss papers are perfect for scrapbooking or use under page protectors.

Before you choose photo paper, think carefully about what you want to do with the prints. If you want to pass around pictures or display them where they could be touched, opt for matte paper, which won't leave behind fingerprints. On the other hand, if you are interested in showing off the crisp lines and intricate details present in that photo, high-gloss paper might be your best bet. Keep in mind that as long as you save those digital images, you can reproduce new prints whenever you see fit.

2: Calibrate Your Color

After spending hours retouching that photo, you might be devastated when your printed images look less-than-ideal. Unfortunately, since the colors on your computer screen can differ significantly from the way your printer interprets color, those pictures might look completely different on paper than they do on-screen.

To prevent problems, always calibrate your color. While some professional photographers purchase expensive calibration software that actually "reads" the color on the screen with a sensitive camera, there might be an easier way to sort out your color issues. Some photo printer manufacturers offer ICC color profiles online that you can download and use within your editing software. Simply put, color profiles are a set of numerical data that tell your screen how to interpret color. Since print manufacturers understand the intricacies of how their printers read color, offering this information to consumers helps to improve the user experience.

Before you start printing, take the time to download an updated color profile and use it to correct your images. Keep in mind that since color profiles are set based on manufacturer's products, that profile might not help much if you aren't using name-brand inks. After your screen and printer are in color harmony, you will be able to print without encountering any surprises along the way.

By using your home photo printer the right way, you might be able to enjoy gorgeous, full-color images whenever you want.