Tips and tricks: Printing documents

Printing your own photos is a blast. Home inkjet printers bring the complete experience of photography to us, with serious ease of use and at a price that's becoming more economical every day. You can make straight prints, wild color-shifted prints—anything you can imagine—and the
satisfaction of the creative process is yours to savor.
These tips should help you get your printing process keyed in. 

                    1.Resolution! Yes, we harp on it, but it's an important thing to remember.
                        Set your output resolution between 240 and 300 dpi, regardless of your
                        inkjet's listed printer resolution (which refers to the number of dots its
                        inkheads print). 
                    2.Check your printer driver's settings. Be sure it's set to highest quality
                        and that it concurs with the type of paper on which you're printing.
                        Snoop around in all the options the printer driver offers you—sometimes
                        you can find little variable to make the prints better, like diffusion
                        dithering and advanced color settings. 
                    3.Clear up and crop your image whenever necessary. Use the cloning tool
                        in your image-editing software to get rid of annoying motes and specks
                        on your photos (surprisingly, the printer will pick them up and print them,
                        even if they're very small). Check the edges of your photo. Are they
                        clean? If there are distracting elements sticking into the frame, consider
                        cropping the photo. Sometimes cropping can increase the artistic appeal
                        of a shot by focusing on the subject and getting rid of superfluous

                      4.Start with a sharp, crisp original. There's no substitute for a high-quality
                        image. Although you can sharpen images, you can't sharpen blurry areas to any
                        decent effect—it will just pronounce the pixelation. Today's printers are
                        very fine, and will reveal every glitch and blurry or over-shaped patchy
                        area on the print. 

                      5.Try printing black-and-white images in RGB mode to get the most out of
                        the ink's tonality. Printing in RGB (or CMYK) mode makes the printer
                        utilize all it's inks to make up the tonal information, not just the black
                        cartridge. You can get much subtler and precise images this way,
                        converging on continuous-tone. 

                      6.Have a bright working environment to assess your colors—not only for
                        your image processing, but for your examination of the finished prints,
                        as well. Colors look very different, depending on lighting conditions. If
                        there's a constant in the world of printing, it's that color matching is a
                        pain. There will be much trial and error getting your monitor and printer
                        output to agree. 

                      7.Slightly sharpen the image before printing. The unsharp mask or other
                        sharpening filter in your image-processing program enhances the edges
                        in your print. Careful—it's easy to over-sharpen a photo, so before saving
                        the changes, zoom in and make sure there aren't many pixel
                        aberrations. They'll stick out when you seen them up close; they look
                        jagged and noisy, with prominent red and blue pixels where they
                        shouldn't be. 

                      8.Experiment with different media, relegating some time to trial and error.
                        You have a wide gamut of textures at your disposal, such as canvas,
                        watercolor paper, metallic paper and more. 
                        A brilliant glossy paper will reveal all of the pretty colors and textures.
                        Remember, not all papers work with all printers, so run a lot of
                        different types through your printer to find what works for you. 

                      9.Make test prints to compare the effects of different filters and adjustments by
                         making several small copies of your image on a single page and adjusting them
                         individually. When you make your print, mark the results of each variation and
                         keep the print for later reference. This is doubly helpful because it helps you 
                        identify the difference between your monitor and printer's output. 

                     10.Keep those print heads clean. Paper fibers can be left behind in your
                        printer's feed path. Dust can settle in there. Keep your printer covered
                        when you're not using it, and use a can of compressed air to blow out
                        particles carefully. Run the cleaner function in your printer every now and
                        again to get maximum efficiency from your printer, before you see a print
                        coming out with banding. 

Now that you've enhanced your shots, what now? To showcase your photo talents you'll need to use a photo-quality inkjet printer and some great paper stock! 

HP's latest inkjet printers (DeskJet 880C, the DeskJet 970C) are up to the challenge and offer great quality from screen to printer. But now that you have a digital camera, consider the PhotoSmart P1000 or P1100 printers. These all offer HP's highest print quality and the most realistic photo results with direct prints from the Flash Card.
Prints on HP Photo Premium Plus paper are recommended for finest results.