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Welcome to Light Print. I started this site years ago, devoted to photographic "C-prints," hence the name light print since c-prints were exposed to light and chemically processed. It's now 2019 and I've long since retired my c-print machines and I've replaced these printers with the latest Epson fine art printers. "Giclee" prints, ink jet prints, aqueous based ink prints, whatever you want to call them. I gave up on c-prints after trying for years to keep my old equipment alive, but also when I saw the results of the latest generation Epson, the Sure Color Epson P10000/P20000, among others, on the best paper I could find (Hahnemule), I was simply blown away by the results. And truthfully, although I loved traditional c-prints look and feel, they had a few problems. Namely, the dyes, when exposed to light over time, would fade, much faster than inks. So their "archival-ness" was questionable. They also had OBA's, which I'll explain later. Still the quality was so much better, I was willing to live with 50 years image stability (C-prints) over 200 years (Epson inks). That was until I saw a print on Hahnemüle paper off of the Epson Sure Color. Not only did Hahnemüle's special industry leading coatings render the image similar to a c-print, the gamut (saturation of colors) was greater than a c-print, producing simply stunning results, similar to a c-print, with much greater longevity.
If you're interested in a full bio on me, please check out the about page. The short is I'm a certified digital color expert and I have 25 years of experience in the NYC photo industry in some shape or form, and I've garnered a lot of experience about how to print photographs. It's my aim to help you pick up this skill for your own photography. Even in the Instagram era, there is nothing quite like a beautifully printed photograph to show off your work. And if you take your photography seriously, at some point, you'll want to print your images. Get them off your device, and into the real tangible world!
The good news, in this day and age, YOU DON'T NEED A PHOTO LAB. You CAN do this yourself. But like anything, you want to know what you're doing before wasting money, and our most valuable resource, time. And of course, you can't do everything. Printing large prints requires expensive printers, and mounting and framing requires specialty equipment and experience to do properly. That's what's this site is for. To help you learn and DIY all you can, and be there to assist with the stuff you can't, or rather not be bothered to do.
What about color? Well, luckily, that's my specialty. Would you believe me if I told you, with a little guidance, prints between you and I can match 99%, and be repeatable color for that edition you need printed on demand... All that said, let's start with some of basics:
1) Resolution: Simply the more native pixels the better. Do you need 300 dpi at large sizes? no, you can get away with less. How much less sort of depends on you, your work, viewing distance (based on print size), etc. But as a general rule I feel pretty good about 200 dpi at size, but even less can work. Again sort of depends on your work and what you're trying to achieve with it.
2) Image size: If you're a photography hobbyist and not acquainted with Photoshop at all. You'll want to at least download a trial and learn to use the "image size" command, and the "canvas size" command. I also recommend you buy my course on "digital color for photographers," coming soon. If you already know what you're doing, great. I recommend you size your file to the desired print size (including aspect ratio), including all borders (if desired) BEFORE uploading.
3) Sharpening: This is a Pandora's box. Generally you want to sharpen twice. First when you process your raw file before editing, and second, after sizing for print. "Over-sharpening" is often used when printing since things tend to soften a bit when printing. The amount of sharpening to use depends on your image/print size, and your total resolution. Ultimately this is a subjective thing, and trial and error is recommended.
4) Color: Always include an embedded color profile. It will be honored. Recommended is AdobeRGB, or sRGB. Do not attach/embed monitor profiles, this is wrong! I see this a lot, and I have no idea what misinformation out there has people thinking this makes sense. Although I understand why someone might think that makes sense.
5) Saving: This site only allows for up to 100 MB JPGS. If you save at maximum quality JPEG you will see no visually discernible loss in quality. That said, if you prefer to only print from tiff files, you can Wetransfer your order to kevin@light print.com
For a video on the basics, please check back soon.
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All materials used in print production are archival. We only use Epson branded inks and the highest quality archival papers on the market. All prints are handled with gloves and stored and shipped in PH neutral sleeves.
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