Prints


You may choose to have someone else do the printing.At the standard print resolution of 300 dpi, a single 8" x 12" picture has 2400 x 3600 pixels, but the file size is still within bounds for broadband Internet transmission to an online printing service. Print quality varies considerably, as does the cost. The least expensive prints use classic optics and chemistry. More expensive services are typically inkjet. There are exceptions, with exotic optical prints processes.  As examples, AdoramaPix offers inexpensive prints, and West Coast Imaging does fine ink jet printing. Photoshop has a Create option that links to Kodak.

Note that high-end inkjet printing is sometimes called giclée [gee-clay].  Similar logic distinguishes a tie from fashion neckwear.
 
However you get the prints made, you are likely to end up with an assortment of awkwardly large prints in different sizes. You can simply put them in a box to carry around for show-and-tell.  Imagine experiencing photos without having to plug anything in. Surely it is a radical concept. The resolution of a large print is unmatched, so this is the ideal format for detailed images.

The photos can be put in clear plastic sleeves to minimize wear and tear, but most adults will naturally handle them carefully by the edges.  A printed label can be added to the back to identify the print. Chemicals in plastic sleeves, labels, and even the storage box can damage prints over time. To avoid that, use archival quality materials. Light Impressions is one reliable source for such materials.

Box of machine prints
Machine prints ordered over the Internet
An easy way to obtain prints is to upload files over the Internet to a vendor who will mail the prints to you.  This provides an opportunity to get some good out of all those megapixels. In Photoshop use Image > Resize > Resize image... to set the print resolution to 300 pixels per inch.  For a 8" x 12" print that will require 8.6 megapixels. If your camera does not produce that many pixels it is not a crisis, just use a resolution that matches what you have.  Few people will see the difference with 200 pixels per inch, which requires only 3.8 megapixels. An alternative is to drop the size of the print, but I recommend sticking with 8" x 12", at least initially.

The 8" x 12" shape is more appealing to me, but your camera may be closer to the 8" x 10" shape, or you may like that shape better.  If the shape of the paper does not match the shape of the image you will get white margins on two of the edges.

Print margins
Images that are not the shape of the paper will have margins on two sides
If you care, you can trim off the margins when you get the prints back. You may add margins in Photoshop if you would like margins completely around the image. The machine that prints the images doesn't know whether the camera made the pixels or whether you did. Add margins by setting the background color to white and using Image > Resize > Resize canvas... You can get even fancier by adding a thin black line around the image. Before the margins are added, Select > All and perform Edit > Stroke (Outline) selection > inside with about a 10 pixel width. A caption can be added in the margin using the Photoshop text tool. Copperplate is a traditional classical-looking font for a print title, but there is no need to be classical.

I recommend selecting at least a dozen of your favorite images to try out the system. They will only cost $2 or $3 apiece, and the quality is good. Keep the prints in a box and haul them out to show visitors or take them along when you visit Aunt Minnie and Uncle Fred. Prints can be shared around a table, rather than sitting in front of a screen; they are high resolution; and no batteries are required.

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