11 Will my prints fade in time?
Photographic prints start to deteriorate as soon as they’re made, and this rate of deterioration is dependent on many variables. Sunlight is the prime reason for photographs fading, but other factors include the mountboard used, type of glue, airborne fumes, humidity and the quality of storage boxes or albums.
The good news is that many current inks and papers have better lightfast qualities than conventional silver-based photographs, so we’re talking 70 years plus.
Inkjet printers use pigment or dye-based inks.
Traditionally, pigment inks offer better longevity but are less good on glossy materials and their colour range or gamut is smaller.
Dye inks penetrate the paper surface so work better with gloss materials but suffer from poor lightfastness.
Technology in both areas has moved on, so pigment systems such as Epson Ultrachrome K3 give an excellent performance and dye inks like HP’s Vivera last well.
12 How do I add a signature to my prints?
Signing prints is a good way to personalise them and also adds an element of exclusivity to your work. So after painstakingly preparing and printing your images, taking a pen to them to scrawl your name elaborately across the bottom can be a little daunting, and if it goes wrong then it will ruin an otherwise perfect print.
A far safer solution is to add your own digital signature using a brush within Photoshop. It’s simply a case of converting a scanned image of your signature into a digital Brush. You’ll be able to control the size and even the colour in the same way as you would with a normal Photoshop brush.
All you need is a paper, pen and scanner, the rest can be done in Photoshop. Once you’ve scanned your signature you’ll be able to save it in your palette of brushes and use it whenever you want. You can also use this technique to watermark your images copyright (for more on how to copyright photos, read our tutorial on setting your camera’s metadata in 4 easy steps).
Step 1 Scan in your signature
After finding a signature you’re happy with, scan it in and open it directly into Photoshop, select the Crop tool and resize to 800px x 600px at 72Ppi.
Step 2 Enhance the scan
Open Levels and select the black point pipette and click into the signature. Select the white and click the background. Adjust so you only have B&W.
Step 3 Create and apply
Click on the Edit menu and select Define Brush. Give the brush a name and click OK. Choose black as your foreground colour select the Brush tool and you’re ready.
13 What’s an ink-flow system?
The printer’s set of ink cartridges is replaced with a special unit that’s fed ink from an external collection of bottles. These bottles hold significantly more ink – usually 125ml – than the printer’s usual replacement cartridges and are easily topped up.
The point of an ink flow system is to save money on replacement ink cartridges but, because of the initial set-up cost, you really need to be a productive printer to save money. A system is unlikely to be worth the outlay if you just make a couple of A4 prints a week.
14 How do I print directly from my camera?
If your camera and printer have PictBridge capability you can print without the need for a computer. You just join the two with an USB lead. For wireless printing some printers come with WiFi built in or you can get a Bluetooth USB printer adaptor.
Some printers have the option of accepting memory cards so it’s possible to print without a PC. PC-free printing is convenient (great fun at parties and family occasions) but obviously has limitations when it comes to pre-print editing.
15 Can I print long panoramas?
You can print panoramas on normal paper sizes but the image will not be very tall. There are specialist printers that will do a better job. They either have a paper roll holder or will print on long sheets.
For instance, the HP Photosmart B8550 can produce borderless prints to 330x1117mm and the Epson Stylus Photo R800 accepts 210x594mm panoramic paper.
If you want a big panorama, the best option is to use a printing service, get a poster-print made and lop off the top and bottom to give your print. Or use a specialised printing service that can deal with the panoramic format.
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