I wrote a post over the holidays about some projects you could do as a landscape photographer when you had an extra few moments of down time. One of the projects was to buy some frames and hang some photos. In the post I linked to my favorite frames (sold from IKEA), and in looking at the stats from the post I was amazed at how many people clicked on the link to see the frames. So I thought I’d share my quick process with you on how I size my photos, where I print them, and what frames I use.
Side Note: Also (and this is totally not why I’m writing this post), my friends at MPIX are having a 50% off large prints sale today (Jan 28th) so it’s a great time to give it a try. Again, this is totally not why I’m writing this, but it did kick my butt in to gear to get it posted. A 16×20 print which is normally $16.99 is now just over $8 bucks. Not bad. You can buy 5 of them for around $40, and five frames for around $100-125 and have some really nice large prints to hang in your home. Anyway, on to good stuff…
1. First you’ll want to size your photos.
• Lightroom – Just go to File > Export. Enter the size you want your photos. For most frames I buy, I increase the size by about 1/4 inch from what they recommend. This just helps you from going crazy when you’re putting the photo in the frame and trying to get the edges to line up with the edges of the matte – at least you’ll have some extra wiggle room. This square frame from IKEA, says the photo should be 11 3/4 inches, so I just rounded it to an even 12 inches.
• Photoshop – I create a blank document that’s 12 inches x 12 inches. Then I drag the photo I want to print in to the document and use Edit > Free Transform to move it in to place. Here’s a PSD file of the one I made for square prints.
• Resolution – I’m usually trying to get at least 150 ppi or up to 240 if the image is large enough. I know everyone says you need 240 but trust me, you don’t. 150 is enough for most photos.
TIP: What if I need my photo larger?
Lightroom and Photoshop can resize pretty well up to around 100%. Maybe even 200% if you want to push it. But if you really need to enlarge the photo you’ll want a program like onOne’s Perfect Resize (free trial here).
2. Add some brightness
• Lightroom – I bump up the Exposure slider by just a tiny bit. Maybe .25 or so. And if you’re in the Print module, you can adjust the Print Brightness slider and move that up to 20-30%.
• Photoshop – I press Cmd/Ctrl-J to duplicate the layer. Change the Blend mode of the duplicate to Screen and reduce the opacity to 20%-ish.
3. Color Space
If you’re printing to your own printer don’t worry about the color space. If you’re saving the image for MPIX then make sure you choose sRGB.
4. File Format
Then save the image as a JPEG (not a TIFF) with a quality setting of at least 80% (or 8 in Photoshop). Higher quality settings are fine, but it’ll take you longer to upload your photo and 80% is typically just fine. You may have heard TIFF is a better format, but for most online printing it’s not.
If you’re sending the photo to Mpix go ahead and log in to their site and upload your JPEGs. Place your order. Don’t forget to add the discount code if you’re doing this on the 28th to get the 50% off.
That’s it. Just wait…
6. When your package arrives…
It’ll take you about 3 hours to open it because MPIX packages your prints so darn good 😉 But when you do open it, stand in awe as you stare at your prints, critique them in only a way that a photographer would, and get ready to hang some frames (by the way, hanging frames would have been a great thing to do in Step 5 while you were waiting).