Saturday , June 15 2024
This is a book that transcends most books on printing and focuses on what it takes to generate a high quality print.

Book Review: Fine Art Printing for Photographers by Uwe Steinmüller and Jürgen Gulbins

I have had the privilege to encounter many books on the art of photographic printing, but never have I found one so succinct and to the point about what is needed to create great prints. Fine Art Printing for Photographers is that book. Its subtitle, Exhibition Quality Prints with Inkjet Printers, is quite apt as it does a superb job of getting to the core of what is needed to understand and create high quality prints.

What I find is that many books on printing focus on “The Printer”. That is they focus on a specific brand of printer whether it be Canon, Epson or HP. This is a book that transcends a brand and focuses on what it takes to generate a high quality print.

Many books will tell you about dots per inch and printer resolution. Fine Art Printing for Photographers concentrates on items that will allow you to make an informed decision on what will work best for your specific needs and equipment. It describes the differing types of inkjets; Piezo, thermal, continuous flow etc. The book describes types of inks, types of paper and the effects of all of this, along with the external conditions, on the permanence of your photos.

The book is laid out in nine chapters covering printing techniques, inks and papers, CMS management, fine art workflow, fine art printers, printing packages and RIPs, black and white, image judgment and presentation.

When assessing a book to purchase I have to ask myself, does it just rehash the same things that some other author has done or is there something more to the book? One area that I seldom see addressed is paper — questions such as what is the best type of paper for what I am creating? And how will this paper work with this type of printer? When you think about it, inkjet photographic paper is as new as digital photography itself.

Fine Art Printing for Photographers devotes a whole chapter to the process of paper and its interaction with the various types of inks. The authors go into the ingredients of the various types of paper, coatings and how they interact with the air pollutants that can cause fading. They describe the types of surface and paper finishes and how to match the appropriate inkjet technology with the subject, paper, and ink.

Another chapter is devoted to understanding the different color models — RGB, LAB, CMYK, and grayscale. While a lot of books talk about color models, Fine Art Printing for Photographers does one of the better jobs of helping you with the visualization of the color spaces and of color-space mapping. They describe how to profile your monitor and your printer to work as a team.

In the chapter "Tuning Colors", the authors provide numerous tricks to help you bring out the best in your photos. They describe “Soft Light” techniques, removing blue casts, and how you can use a traditional wet color darkroom technique called “ring around” to help evaluate an image to see if it has the appropriate color balance and density.

Uwe Steinmüller has been a photographer since 1973 and has been exhibiting his work worldwide since 1978. In 1999, he launched the web magazine "Digital Outback Photo," which attracts about 4 million visitors per year, and currently focuses on digital workflow, RAW file processing, and the printing process.

Jürgen Gulbins is a prolific author who has written and translated books on topics such as CAD, Unix, DTP, typography, Internet, document management, Linux, and various aspects of digital photography.

Regardless if you are an amateur or professional, Fine Art Printing for Photographers provides a complete foundation for understanding what it takes to generate the highest quality fine art prints and how to master the techniques of the masters.

About T. Michael Testi

Photographer, writer, software engineer, educator, and maker of fine images.

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