You’ve likely been through this before. You capture the perfect photo of a sunset, your dog, or your child’s soccer game. Then, when it comes time to print it, the photo doesn’t come out quite as you expected. The colors are dull and the background looks blurry. The end result looks nothing like that bright, beautiful picture you took.
That’s because photography is an art and a science. Getting the perfect picture takes a combination of practice, patience, and the right equipment. If you’ve shot the perfect photo and want the image to print out just as perfectly, follow these keys to success.
Use the Right Printer
For best results, strictly use photo printer or an inkjet printer. In fact, many inkjet printers nowadays print photos that rival the quality of those you would get from a drugstore. If your printer isn’t even close to that quality, then it’s time to make some adjustments so you can get the most from your inkjet printer.
You’ll also want to be aware of your printer’s capabilities. Some have advanced printing functions, as well as editing features that allow you to adjust brightness and contrast and even crop your photos. These can help you enhance your photos.
While laser printers are getting better at printing photos, they still lag behind inkjet printers in this regard. These types of printers are best for office environments where basic black and white printing is commonly used.
Use the Right Ink
Printers are designed to run best when specific ink formulations are used. Therefore, you can help your printer run at optimal levels by using the ink manufactured and sold by the printer’s manufacturer. For example, if you have an HP printer, you’ll want to use authentic HP ink. Stay away from generic ink, which can result in lower-quality prints. You’ll especially notice the difference when you go to print photos.
Use Appropriate Paper
If you desire photo-quality prints, then you need photo-quality paper – simple as that. Regular copier paper is quite absorbent, which results in bleeding ink. Your print quality will suffer, which is why you need to invest in the best paper available for your printer. Photo paper, premium paper, and glossy paper will give you the quality you desire. These types of paper are more expensive but well worth the cost if you don’t want to look like an amateur.
Use the Correct Paper Settings
Once you pick the right paper, you then have to make sure that your printer is set up properly. In fact, according to tech support, the most common mistake is not changing the printer’s settings to match the paper type. Don’t overlook this. While many newer printers have sensors that automatically change the paper type settings, this is not a fool-proof method. Take the time to manually change the settings yourself, and you’ll notice a huge difference in output.
Experiment with Different Printing Options
With a digital camera and printer, you have several options for printing pictures. You can connect your camera to a computer via a USB cable, and then print from there. You may also want to consider inserting your camera’s memory card directly into the printer – if you have that capability. Experiment with both and see if you notice any difference in output. Sometimes direct printing can result in a difference in color and contrast.
Use Photo Editing Software
You don’t have to plunk down several hundred dollars on a copy of Photoshop, but you should use some sort of software to get your photos looking like those of a professional. There are many free programs available – like Picasa – that can help increase your photos’ resolution while fixing common problems.
These free programs may not come with all the bells and whistles, but they can help with lighting issues and red eye, as well as fix common color issues like too much or not enough brightness or contrast. By fixing these issues before printing, you’ll increase your chances of printing the perfect photo.
Printing the perfect image may seem impossible, but it’s not really that difficult once you use the right equipment and settings. By following the tips above, you’ll waste less paper and save yourself the frustration of printing images that are less than perfect.