Ep 124 Set your pixels free: How to optimise images for print

Even though we live in a world where so much is done online, there’s still a need for photographs to be printed – either in the form of good old-fashioned prints for albums, but also for brochures, magazines, reports and so on. However, it’s easy to get this wrong if you’re used to supplying everything digitally.

In this episode, Gina and Valerie discuss what you need to know if you want to optimise your photographs for print. You’ll discover the essentials of DPI and PPI, how this is affected by viewing distance, how to supply your files and much more.

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Show notes

Photo Critique

Brian Becnel
“I had the great pleasure of being a second photographer at a wedding this weekend. It was a 14 hour day (with some breaks built-in). It was the most stress-free wedding I’d ever seen.
After all is said-and-done, I still need to slow down and remember the rule of thirds more often so I can apply even more creativity and artistry to images for the couple. I also learned that same-sex weddings are very different than opposite-sex weddings.

Here’s a few images that are currently my favorites. Definitely, CC is welcome.”

Above: Image Brian Becnel


Above: Image Brian Becnel


Above: Image Brian Becnel


Above: Image Brian Becnel

How to optimise images for print

Colour Space

Colour space is the number of colours you tell your computer, camera or smartphone to create your images with.


  • Most colors
  • requires 16 bits files
  • doubles file size.
  • Only high end/commercial printers can reproduce the tonal range


  • high end pro inkjet printers


  • Used by Walmart, Kmart and cheap printing labs
  • Most low-end scanners and entry level cameras work on this color space

If your work is going to be exhibited at the Guggenheim or National portrait gallery or you want your images to look fricken awesome.
Consider ProPhotoRGB (wider range of colours)
Higher quality = higher cost.
General magazine/newspaper/brochures/wedding images, use AdobeRGB
If you just want cheap prints use sRGB
Colour Profiles

  • Universal standard
  • Every monitor sees colours differently
  • Colour profile is a way to ensure the colours you see on your monitor are the same colours some else will see on their monitor.
  • This is very important when you are printing at home
  • A colour printer will have a recommended profile
  • Cheaper printing labs also have recommended colour profiles for optimum results
  • If you are taking your prints to a high-end lab, the lab will adjust the colour for you
  • When working with high-end labs, it’s a good idea to ask for a proof or test print first before you get your final image printed because what looks good, i.e. contrast, colour temperature can vary according to personal preference


  • In an image to be printed
  • DPI = Dots per inch
  • The more dots you get in an inch of print the better your image looks.

Higher the resolution the more dots of ink in an image
The tighter they are packed together, the better the image looks.

Low res image = fewer pixels= lower quality
High res images=lots of pixels packed in= higher quality
The confusing bit … Screen resolution vs print resolution

  • Resolution ONLY matters when it comes to printing an image
  • Our eyes can process only so much information
  • A 72ppi image viewed on a computer looks exactly the same as a 300 ppi, or 1000 PPI image on screen.
  • The most important measurement to remember for web images is pixel dimensions.

Printing is a whole new ball game. It’s all about getting the maximum number of pixels on the paper. More pixels = better-looking prints.

Image size vs resolution

Lets imagine resolution = jelly beans

72 DP1 = 72 jelly beans in an image
250DPI = 250 jelly beans in an image
300DPI = 300 Jelly beans in an image

  • The idea here is to pack the jelly beans in as closely as possible
  • The smaller the print size the more we can pack our jelly beans in
  • Resolution number determines how closely an image’s pixels are packed together
  • You can tell photoshop or Lightroom how much resolution (how tightly packed your jellybeans are)

With “resample” checked photoshop increases image size when I change resolution

This means that it’s adding more pixels to your image that were not there in the first place It’s “making stuff up to fill in the blanks”

For optimum quality “uncheck resample” your image size in inches or cms will be smaller but photoshop will only use the actual pixels in your shot and pack them in more closely = a better quality image.

Smaller image size but the same number of pixels.
Recommended Resolution size

  • Inkjets 225-250 DPI
  • BW Laser 150-200 (less information needed = less pixels)
  • The good stuff 300 DPI

Test your prints first

  • Lowest printing resolution is between 180 and 200 DPI anything below this looks shite
  • Higher res = higher quality up to a certain point
  • The printer you bought for $50 at Walmart is not going to be able to handle 500DPI image. It will lessen the quality by throwing out the extra pixels.
  • If you are unsure, do a test at 200, 250, 300, 360 and see what looks best
  • You don’t need to do the entire print only a small section

Image upsizing (interpolation)
Resize image

Viewing distance and resolution
Good article on viewing sizes and distances

#ginachallenge #freemypixels

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