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Printing your Photographs

Since the advent of digital photography and more importantly affordable DSLR's many comments have been bandied around by experienced photographers and printers about how it is the “death of photography” and even the “end of history” insinuating that the masses will produce low quality images that will not be recorded for posterity as photographs have been in the past. This is simply not the case; the truth of the matter is since the advent of the digital camera more photographs have been taken at any one time than ever before, of course the quality varies greatly and most of these images will only ever be seen by the person who took the photograph but the fact remains that photography is on the up and as cameras become more durable and more user friendly this will continue to be the case.

One sad loss with the advent of digital photography is the notion of disposable images; since we no longer need to pay for film and pay to have things developed (or spend time and money developing them ourselves) we can take thousands of images in a day and hand pick the best, and discard the others as surplus to requirements. As a side effect of this many people do not print out their images to keep hard copies as it is seen as more convenient to keep an online photo album; however the truth of the matter is that nothing can replace the feeling of a physical photograph in an album to show people.

Thanks to another cheap digital revolution printers are exceptionally cheap and have been for the past ten years; before this printers capable of producing photograph quality prints were few and far between and only for those with money to spare. In the 21st century the photo-printer is so cheap that it is almost more cost effective to discard it when the ink runs out and buy a new one, and although I do not condone such a wasteful approach to things it is comforting to know that the technology can be afforded by everyone who can also afford a DSLR camera .

The obvious choice for the discerning DSLR owner is an ink-jet printer. It produces the highest quality photographs at the lowest cost and is readily available and affordable. You could also opt for a dye-sublimation printer (these are usually used for dedicated photo printers of the type that you dock directly with your camera) and although of a high quality they remove the ability to amend the image yourself on your PC when shooting RAW or even high quality JPEG so are beyond the scope of this article. Ink-jet printers vary wildly from manufacturer to manufacturer so it is important that you spend some time reading reviews and discovering the particular models available within your budget range before making an informed purchase. New models are released all the time so if you are on a tight budget you can often pick up a previous model with the vast majority of the functionality of the newer version for a fraction of the price. As with everything else it pays to shop around when purchasing your ink jet printer.

There has been a lot of hype about ink jet produced images fading very quickly over time, this used to be true but fortunately is not the case any more. Printer manufacturers have worked hard to produce inks that are more resistant to the effects of ultraviolet radiation in sunlight and Canon even claim that when stored in an album their photographs will last 100 years. If you fame your photograph and mount it on the wall obviously it will fade quicker, but if you keep good backups of your photographs (as every photographer should) then you can simply print yourself a new copy in 25 years time or however long it takes for the ink to begin to fade.

When printing your images remember that you should not force any unnatural sizes on your pictures, a digital camera shoots with a 4:3 aspect ratio (as opposed to a 3:2 in regular 35mm wet film) so if you try to use any traditional photograph sizes such as 6 x 4 inches a strip will be left black at the top and bottom of the image, or the image will be stretched out of proportion to fit the 6 x 4 inch space. If you require this size for framing purposes you can always crop your images in a piece of image editing software which is preferable to either blank spaces or stretched pictures. A4 is also not a good size for images so you will have to crop if you want to fill a page; and no manufacturers to date produce photo paper with a 4:3 aspect ratio. When printing a resolution of about 300 pixels per inch is standard, which means that if you require A4 sized prints your image needs to be at least 3564 x 2520 pixels which is a shade under 9 megapixels