Craft & Vision offers a series of photography ebooks and their newest title “Making the Print” continues the tradition of informative, easy-to-read books at affordable prices. Author Martin Bailey (longtime photographer and the man behind the Martin Bailey Photography podcast) has produced a great book aimed at digital photographers who want to make beautiful prints. I was provided with a review copy of this book; read on for my review (discount codes at the bottom of this article).
I am one of those photographers who rarely makes prints, but I want to change that. I’m looking at expanding my photography business into the realm of fine art, and printing is an important part of that niche. I found Making the Print to be well-suited for my level of knowledge. If you’re thinking about printing your work or if you’ve printed some of your work but aren’t thrilled with the results, this book is for you.
Part One: Getting Started
The first 40% of the book is an overview of printing basics. A few pages are devoted to the topic of choosing a printer including considerations of size and brand. After the printer, the second most important aspect to a print is the paper. Bailey discusses each paper and then offers example photos that show the same image and the reflective qualities of matte, gloss, and lustre papers. It’s important to keep the final image display in mind and the explanation offers when each paper might be appropriate (or shoudl be avoided).
After discussing printers and paper, the book explores the printing workflow. The important topic of monitor brightness (darkness) is explained, and Bailey then spends time explaining how to adjust shadows, highlights, and colors for printing using three popular photo editors (Lightroom, Aperture, and Photoshop). Time is spent explaining the difference between managing color via the editing application vs. having the printer manage the color, with an explanation of which is preferable for the savvy printer.
I found the overview of the basic printing process to be straightforward; I’d feel confident making my first print after this overview. The section wraps up with a look at evaluating your work and the qualities of a good print.
Part Two: Step it Up
The remainder of the book is devoted to more intermediate techniques to move beyond a simple print. Even with my limited printing experience I found this section easy to read and understand. I was pleased to see a substantial number of pages devoted to color management, starting with monitor calibration and naturally mentioning printer calibration. In addition to the basics of “how”, Bailey dives into the “why” and explains how the image histogram fits into the picture. The beauty of ebooks is that it’s simple to make updates; a section on soft-proofing includes a footnote that the beta release of Lightroom 4 which arrived just last week includes new soft-proofing features.
A few pages are devoted to large format printers including the benefits and challenges they bring. Even with Bailey’s expertise, he recommends against a large-format printer as one’s first printing equipment. Instead he suggests getting comfortable with printing on smaller papers before moving up to the complexity of large format.
The last major topic of the book is that of gallery wraps and the process of printing your own. This section addresses the properties of printing on canvas as well as the method to laminate and stretch the canvas onto the frame.
I was very impressed with this book. Martin Bailey breaks down the process of making a nice fine art print into both basic and advanced steps so that the book applies to a wide range of audiences. It’s of value to someone who’s simply dreaming of making a nice print as well as those who have done some basic printing but are looking to take their printing skills to a higher level. In addition to straightforward information about printers, paper, and color management, Bailey does a great job of explaining just how everything works together such that there’s no magic formula that’s right for every situation. Making the Print will equip you with the information needed to find the right formula for your print with your needs.