recommendations for printing books

Discussion in 'Photographic Discussions' started by whistule, Nov 3, 2008.

  1. whistule

    whistule TPF Noob!

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    I recently tried blurb for printing a book of B&W photos and I guess I got what I paid for - poor printing. Can anyone recommend someone for printing reasonably priced one-off books? preferably they would be in the UK but international isn't out of the question.
     
  2. skieur

    skieur TPF Noob!

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    The problem is not poor printing. The problem is your shots. Look at them closely. Printing is based on tones and a grey scale. Your photos don't have the necessary range to print well. Your subjects do not stand out from the backgrounds, some are poorly lit and lacking detail, and some are even out of focus.

    A regular black and white laser printer should be able to produce a reasonably sharp, visible, contrasty shot of a good photo. Not great but it gives you a good idea of the quality of your original. If you can't see the subject, if it is "muddy" with objects blending into each other that are too dark and fuzzy, then your shot is the problem. A "professional" print will only be marginally better.

    skieur
     
  3. whistule

    whistule TPF Noob!

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    I've had exactly the same photos printed out at the local printers, which lots of pros use round here, and they are vastly different i.e. they come out very close to how they appear on a calibrated monitor. I tried using the colour profile for the printers that Blurb uses and cant get the images to look anywhere near the way I want them to, mainly because there's no detail in the shadows. Blurb themselves admit this problem in an as much as they claim to be improve this exact fact with their with their 'B3' program - supposedly more geared towards image professionals - but as far as I can see it's just they've built in a colour profile into the software for soft proofing....you'd still need to go back into photoshop to edit and there's no guarantee you would be able to get them looking like they should. Is it not usually the printing company that takes responsibility to make adjustments to compensate for the printers they have? Blurb certainly don't do that but maybe its unrealistic to expect them to because they are very cheap. I would say that their colour printing is definitely better.

    I'd love to be proved wrong but as it stands there's no way I can get B&W images to look the way I want them to when using the blurb colour profile.
     
  4. skieur

    skieur TPF Noob!

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    How are you doing your black and whites? Are you using any of the specialty programs or plug-ins to get the most tones and widest grey scale out of our images? Are you selectively brightening or dodging some areas and darkening or burning others? Do you have a high dynamic range mode in a camera menu and are you using it? What filters, if any, are you using on your camera? Are you using any of the software black and white conversion filters? Are you using any software that is customized for particular black and white printing? Have you noticed that some of your images are not sharp and lacking in detail even on your site?

    skieur
     
  5. whistule

    whistule TPF Noob!

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    Yes I have. I mean I'm not putting up those photos as a portfollio of my pictures - many of them are just memories and not necessarily great photos. They were shot on all kinds of cameras, scanned in different ways - sometimes from prints, sometimes from negatives - just experimenting ....and of course that doesn't mean they always turn out great.

    If I'm making a book however, I'm going to pick the photos I'm happy with, have them scanned properly if I'm working with film (and I usually do work with tri-x or ilford), calibrate my monitor if it hasn't been recently and then tweak them in photoshop using the techniques which I think are relevant - which obviously takes a long time. I use the levels, channels, contrast/brightness, sharpening, burn dodge etc etc until I'm happy with them. If I them have them printed at a good place then all that work I put in pays off and usually I'm happy with the results. The same goes if I'm working in a dark room - I'll often compare what I get out of the dark room, or from the lab, with the image from the printers and see what can be improved. Some need lots done to them, some not and some don't make the grade. I'm not unhappy with the pictures I end up with, just the prints I get back from certain places...the pro print shop here is Glasgow is great but they wont print books so I'm wondering if anyone has any recommendations....
     

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