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).
Hi, I surfed onto this article today and learned a wealth of information from the article (and the QA). I have been an occasional hobby photography for 30+ years, but have almost never framed and hung any of my own photographs. When hanging your own photographs, do you usually add a visible watermark/signature on the photograph? Thanks for your much needed help.
so, I think the link to Ikea is no longer functional as it routes back to the main page. Do you remember the name of the frames you used?
OMG, great and awesome information for beginners like me!!! I just starting to print and framing some of photos, most of them from my trips…
Do you know where I can send my photos to get printed on inkjet fiber type paper? I tried looking at Mpix but I don’t think they offer that type of paper.
In reference to adding brightness, I am assuming you mean that this should be done even if your monitor is calibrated?
I assume you have your monitor calibrated so that when you do your corrections they will be accurately reflected in the finished print, but I thought I should ask just to clarify.
I checked out the frames you recommended at Ikea. They are the best frames I’ve seen for a very reasonable price. Already bought four and will be going back for different sizes. Thanks.
Great! Yeah, I really like ’em.
How do you determine the white space around a photo. Do you eyeball it or have a formula based on photo dimensions?
Any chance of you doing a video post on this? I think it would be helpful.
You read my mind 🙂
At work we printed some 24″ x 36″ landscape photos to hang in the lobby. I checked out the Ikea frames but I don’t think they will work for what we have. Any other suggestions? Thanks.
Jennifer have you tried Michaels? Or if you have a Hobby Lobby in your area.
Hobby Lobby has a nice selection of 24 x 36 frames. Almost every other week they are 50% off, bringing the price to $25 – $50.
Great post Matt, really useful tips. I am in the UK and wonder if anyone knows of a similar service to MPix across here.
Great info Matt!
I’ve been reading your stuff for a while and it has helped me a lot, this printing issue in particular is something that takes a lot of trial and error experimentation and you made it very easy and clear for those who are starting out.
Thank you very much for the sharing and happy clicking!
Thanks for the article.
Regarding increasing brightness, why not try to use print proof functionality?
Hi Evgeny – For the most part the “proofing” feature proofs colors that won’t print well. It’s not as helpful if determining if your print will be too dark because you have your monitor set too bright.
Ok, I agree, simply because I remembered suddenly that when printing my photos at home even when I did the proofing, and my monitor was calibrated, I had to move the compensation of brightness to a bigger value in Lightroom in printing dialogue. This way I could keep the visible brightness on screen not changed but to have the photo printed correctly.
I have not done any printing and feel the need to get started. And what would you do if you were using Perfect Resize? It appears to be quite straight forward, is it?
I’m a bit confused. After exporting your image out of lightroom as a 12 x 12, why do you further need to take to photoshop and free transform to a 12 x 12?
Hey Mindy – that was two separate ways of doing it. The Lightroom way or the Photoshop way 🙂
Well that cleared up my confusion on the two but I’m not quite sure why you would change the size on export instead of cropping in the develop mode?
Also, I just downloaded On1’s trial, so since my 60D gives me images of 5184 x 3456 and PS tells me that is 17.28 x11.52, are you saying I can successfully enlarge in PS up to 36 x 24 (100%) or 72 x 48 (200%) That seems contrary to what I’ve heard and why would I even need Resize It then?
Also…. 🙂 The service I am going to use says they want 300ppi. I’m guessing that the only way to tell is by testing at different amounts and that it really may only matter when you start getting past a certain size.
Thanks for your help! I’ve been battling aspect ratio and printing for about a month now. And am really close to being able to get some prints back. I had been exporting from LR at 150ppi without realizing it so I’m now putting together a folder with 150ppi and another with 300ppi. It’s also good to know about the tiffs not being a big deal either cause their such huge files and I’ve already got enough problem between RAW, psd’s and riffs from Painter.
Great practical post! So Matt, is that your living room ?? or is it a stock photo?
I wish! My living room would have 13 and 11 year old shoes laying around, with xbox wires and controllers everywhere 🙂
Matt, show us the prints on *your* wall.
Then I have to clean the house 😉
Say I buy prints from mpix and frames from Ikea, is it pretty easy to mount them if I don’t know what I’m doing? I keep reading that you should have your prints professionally mounted/framed. It seems like it must require some skill or special technique considering how much they charge for the service.
Also, do you prefer frames with or without glass?
Thanks for sharing! =)
Hey Denise – the ones from IKEA have glass or a clear plasticy front to them and looks great. As for professional mounting, the thing for me is that I like to change out prints. Doing it this way makes it really easy (and cheap) to swap them out every so often.
Denise, I printed and hung my prints for the first last year. My frames were 16×20 for 11×14 photos and a mat to look showy. They look great and I get many compliments. Go for it. Get the frame size and mat if you wish, then print the photo to the size of the opening of the mat. Viola!!
If you calibrate your monitor at a low enough brightness .. candle (I use 120), do you still need to bump up the brightness for printing?
Probably not Walter. Sometimes I do a small 8×10 print of a few photos from MPIX to do some test prints. It’s cheap and a good way to test out if you’re changing settings.
I calibrate my monitor (iMac 27-inch) to a cd of 105. This reduces the back lighting. I did this through trail and error like Matt said printing a 8×10 with different settings. However, I still couldn’t get it exactly right at 105. So, I still add around 10% in LR and PS. Works great every time! Also, make sure you use Day Light bulbs to view your photos under … and in your computer room when working on the computer. If you have a chance, purchase the ebook “The Digital Print” by Jeff Schewe. It really explains everything about printing in LR and PS. Help me a lot! Happy Printing!
I resized the images to fit in Ikea frames but MPIX only prints according to set sizes – like 16×20 – which are not the right size for any Ikea frames. Can you specify printed area when you order with MPIX?
What I usually do is create a 16×20 image in Photoshop. Then I save and crop my image to the dimensions necessary (lets say 13×19 as an example). Finally I place it in that 16×20 document in Photoshop and save that image to send to MPIX>
Maybe I’m confused or misunderstood Petruk’s question and comment, but the price list on MPIX shows the availability of 12″ x 12″ prints: http://www.mpix.com/products/prints/papers
Current cost is US $5.89 each.
I think he was asking what if you buy a frame that says it holds a print size that’s different than what MPIX (or whoever) offers as a print size.
Thanks for the great article. How do you adhere your print to the backing? Also do you find it necessary to add a little extra saturation as well as the brightness to get the prints to come out properly on paper?
Thanks so much,
Scotch tape 🙂
And sometimes I apply a little extra saturation. Can’t hurt. Everyone loves saturated photos 🙂
Thanks for the info Matt, I have started putting up my pic’s around the house. Now I see how you did some of yours and I will give it a try. I just got back a metal print that came out great in my eyes. There are so many options out there. I have my own printer but a deal like you suggested is to good to pass up. Thanks again!
I follow and enjoy your posts. In this one you mention Photoshop and Lightroom. How about Perfect Photo Suite 9?
If you have never used Mpix (i know there are 1 or 2 of you) take the time to check the additional services in terms of mounting, paper options, etc.) Your work may deserve and appreciate the additional cost.
I always try to get the histogram to where it has alot of the info towards the lights but isn’t clipping. I had assumed that this was enough. I am glad that you wrote this. The printing module in lightroom is something I have hardly looked at. The brightness problem is probably still the same in the printing module right? I mean we are still looking at a monitor but I thought maybe the Adobe wizards had compensated or something. Lol. I have a show in July at a gallery so I want to make my prints perfect. Thanks again.
This post comes at a perfect time. I’m in the process of printing a bunch of photos to hang at home and I was wondering what was the best way to export the photos to fit the frames I have. Keep the great info coming! Thank You!!!
One other thing to remember when printing your own photos, make sure you place some construction paper or copy paper over them and wait 24-48 hours before you frame them. This only pertains to photos you’ll be placing glass over them. Printer inks need to gas off. If you frame them too quickly the glass will fog up and it looks terrible. Have a fun time printing and framing!! It is a lot of fun!!!
Could you expand on why you add brightness? Do you let mpix make color adjustments. I can’t remember what they call it but Im never sure if I should click that box.
Hey Evan –
1) Most people find their prints are too dark because their monitors are so bright. Basically the photos have a backlight and it affects how you process them. But when printed they look dark so we add some brightness for the print.
2) No I typically don’t let MPIX do color correction because I have a style. However, I have let them do color correction and they do it perfectly.
Hi Evan, the reason for the additional brightness is to compensate for that same quality of brightness you see on your back-lit screen. Final prints come out a little darker, so that added 20% of lightening will closely match what you saw on your screen.