This book is the companion to Jeff’s “The Digital Negative” (see my review). I view this 2- volume series as the modern day (“digital”) equivalent of the Ansel Adams 3-volume series, “The Camera,” “The Negative,” and “The Print.” Since these reviews come quite far apart, I recommend a quick read of my review of “The Digital Negative,” which was done way back in 2012. There are a couple reasons for the long gap. First, when I read the first book, the second was not out. Second, though I finished it many month ago, I am just now getting my thoughts together. 🙂
This 2-volume series is a distillation of the essentials for capturing, processing and printing for the digital photographer
While I am not by any means comparing Mr. Schewe, the photographer, with Ansel Adams, the photographer, I can say with some confidence that he, along with the late, great, Bruce Fraser, were two of the foremost pioneers of digital processing of images. I have read a number of other, fairly technical books written by them, this 2-volume series is a distillation of the essentials for a digital photographer, of capturing the best quality image, and printing it. Like anything in life, some of us will relate to the writing style of certain authors. This book is far from a “for dummies” style book. Yet it is not a mind-boggling technical tome, either. I appreciate Jeff’s conversational style of writing, with some dry humor interjected here and there. Others like the more entertaining style of a — say Scott Kelby. To each his own. If you think you will never have an image printed on paper (or other substrate), read the first book and skip the second. Most of will want to read them both.
I have previously noted that I am a “get under the hood,” type. For those who just want to get on to printing, today’s printers, with their built-in drivers, will probably produce a satisfying result for you, “out of the box.” Or perhaps even easier, upload your images to one of the many, very good, commercial printers out there. But if you like to see how to optimize the pixels you have captured on your “mega-pixel” camera, then these two books are a “must read,” in my view – and will probably mean you don’t have to read any other books on post-processing and printing.
I am a “get under the hood,” type
Before executing the “send to print” command, there are a number of (some of them very technical) steps that must occur to get the image ready for printing. If you are interested in getting the most out of your digital image, this book gives you all the information you need, in a manner that — to my mind — has just the right mix of technical and down to earth. The companion (first in the series), “The Digital Negative,” covers both the Adobe Photoshop (ACR) engine and the Adobe LightRoom engine thoroughly. As one might expect from a continuation series, “The Digital Print” does likewise. But in this book, Schewe goes into a bit more detail about the two. Toward the end of the book, in the section on actual printing, he opines that Lightroom (generally) is a better place to print from. But first, he gives us a brief, but interesting history of the development of digital printing technology. I have become set in my ways. I need to spend some time in Lightroom. I have never printed an image from Lightroom, but I will be trying that in the very near future.
You don’t have to read any other books on post-processing and printing
He next gives some insight into choosing a printer and the different “flavors” available today. Printer and ink technology continues to evolve favorably, so look for updates to these texts in time. The book spends a fair amount of time discussing use of printers and drivers on different platforms, and printing from two software sources: LightRoom and Photoshop. He also covers printer-specific settings, and when and how to choose between printer and software drivers. There is also some coverage of B&W printing. Different printer technology creates the print differently and Schewe explains how to “purpose” your digital file for the particular output method.
There is a chapter on color management. There are a number of great books available on the subject of color management. Though the term, itself sounds intimidating, the concept is simple enough. When we go from one display medium to another we need to have a way to “communicate” the information so the viewable result is consistent. Because of the different technologies employed in capture, post-processing, and displaying, that is much more easily understood in concept than in actual practice, however. When you do “look under the hood” of your Photoshop or Lightroom (or any other) printer driver, you see lots of scary words and checkboxes like “color space,” “rendering intent,” “profiles,” etc.). So most of us need some “plain-English” interpretation. This book does that. Schewe does a good, and succinct job of making this very complex subject understandable to us laypersons.
The Digital Print completes the journey following capture and post-processing, to final output
The Digital Print spends some time covering important aspect of post-processing for preparation of a file to print. For those who did read “The Digital Negative,” there will be some repetition here. I have two observations about that. First, a little repetition/review will do most of good. Second, and more practically, the author had to consider the at least a percentage of his reading audience would not have read the first book. So he includes the essentials again. :-). It then moves on to an oft misunderstood topic: resolution. Schewe gives us an understandable explanation of image resolution vs. printer resolution and why the really aren’t identical concepts. Most importantly, he explains how it relates to the final print and how to choose resolution, re-size images for print, etc.
There is coverage at the end for purposing your digital file for a third party printing company. If there is a weak area in the book, this is it. I am not sure it matters, given what I percieve to be the intended audience: those of us serious (geeky 🙂 ) enough to want to do our own printing and own our own printers. For those who spend significant time and effort getting images ready for the third-party printer, perhaps an entire short text could address the more aptly. In my case, for the few times I have engaged a third party printer, I have worked closely with them, obtaining specs they want, giving them proofs, and discussing my vision of the final image. That has worked well for me. The book concludes with a discussion of inks, papers and other media, viewing distances and environments, longevity, and workflow.
A little repetition/review will do most of good
The Digital Print completes the technical journey following capture and post-processing, to output. In my view the books are a great companion series, but are not necessarily equally weighted. If I only had the interest, patience, or budget for one of the two books, I would recommend the first book, “The Digital Negative.” But for those who like closure and the whole picture (pun intended), I can wholeheartedly recommend both books in the series.