I rarely write about software or even hardware for that matter. However, I do so occasionally when something I value is worthy of mentioning, especially if it is overlooked for one reason or another. Such is the case with ImagePrint, the subject of this essay.
2. What is ImagePrint?
ImagePrint is a RIP, a Raster Image Processing program. The sole function of a RIP, and by extension of ImagePrint, is to print your photographs. You may say ‘but I can do that from Lightroom, Photoshop and other image processing software packages using the printer driver.’ Agreed. However, ImagePrint offers significant advantages compared to printing from your image processing software using the printer driver provided by printer manufacturers, be it Epson, Canon or other.
3. Printing Simplified
When you print from Lightroom, Photoshop or any other image processing software, printing is done through a combination of the functions offered by the image processing software plus the printer driver. For example, if you print on an Epson printer from Photoshop you must use the Photoshop printer interface plus the Epson printer driver interface.
This means that the image processing software and the printer driver have to interface seamlessly. Unfortunately, this is not always easy to do. To achieve that you have to make the correct settings in both the image processing software and the printer driver otherwise you will have conflicts such as selecting a profile both in Photoshop and in the printer driver (usually referred to as double profiling), selecting the paper type twice, or other mishaps. These issues usually come from not being sure if the printer is controlled by the printer driver or by Photoshop.
When you use ImagePrint you bypass all these potential issues because ImagePrint controls the printer 100% by bypassing the printer driver. All the printer settings are done in ImagePrint. The printer driver is no longer used except to check ink levels and to perform print head cleaning and alignment. This approach prevents the problems that can take place when printing from an image processing software package.
4. ImagePrint Features
The advantages offered by ImagePrint fit in four different categories: sophisticated layout capabilities, technical adjustments capabilities, artistic adjustments capabilities and print quality.
A – Sophisticated layout capabilities
- You can lay out print jobs with multiple pages.
- You can use layout templates included in ImagePrint or you can design your own.
- You can recall previous print jobs including layout, image adjustments, profiles and all other settings. This saves you time because you don’t have to redo all the preparation work.
B – Technical image adjustment capabilities
- You can adjust margins, profiles, tonality, color and other variables individually for each photograph.
- You can sharpen from ImagePrint.
- You can resize the image from ImagePrint.
C – Artistic adjustments capabilities
- You can colorize the image from ImagePrint.
- You can control the shadow point from within ImagePrint.
- You can control the density of the image by setting the transparency level from 0% to 100%.
D – Print quality
- ImagePrint features proprietary stochastic printing.
- ImagePrint features proprietary printer profiles.
- These profiles include the illuminant (the light source) in addition to the paper, ink and media type.
- The Profile Valet downloads profiles from within ImagePrint automatically making finding profiles a breeze.
5. The Dashboard
Image adjustments are available through the Dashboard and through the Edit menu. Let’s start with the Dashboard.
In the screenshot below the Dashboard is the window on the top right side. To the left of the dashboard is the layout window and below the dashboard is the image strip where you can select the images you want to print.
The first thing to do when you start working in ImagePrint is to create a Layout. You do this by choosing the page size. You can use the paper at full size or you can use one of the layout templates that come with ImagePrint. The layout templates are useful if you want to create print packages, multiple prints of the same image or prints of different sizes.
You then add photographs either by dragging and dropping images from the desktop or from the Image Strip. If you are printing more than one image you can add pages as needed by clicking the small Page icon at top left and dragging it until you set the number of pages you want. You can add more pages at any time.
You can also print multiple copies of the same image on a single sheet of paper by using the Step and Repeat feature. You simply type the number of times you want to repeat the image both vertically and horizontally and indicate how much distance you want to leave between each image.
The next step is to set the printer profile. ImagePrint makes this very easy. You select the brand and the type of paper you use and ImagePrint selects the profile. If this profile is not installed on your computer ImagePrint downloads it for you automatically using the Profile Valet.
In the Dashboard, there is a section titled Image Properties. This section allows you to define the many variables that affect the image such as image size, paper type, input profiles, number of copies and so on.
Two interesting Image Property adjustments are the Shadow Point adjustment and the Transparency Level adjustment. The first one lets you control the shadow density of the image by raising or lowering the black point. The second one lets you control the opacity of the image from totally transparent (no image visible) to fully opaque (normal print opacity). The opacity adjustment can be useful when you want to print in several passes, for example, print a partially transparent version of an image on the first pass then print an opaque text or design on top of it in the second pass. It can also be used to print the same image several times to make it more opaque than you could in a single printing pass.
6. The Edit Menu
The second way you can make image adjustments is through the edit menu.
Here are the adjustments available in the edit menu. They are both technical and artistic:
- Adjusting the tonal value of the image (the brightness)
- Checking the histogram
- Visualizing the image gamut
- Adjusting the image sharpening
- Adjusting the color cast
- Modifying the image transparency
7. My Approach
Personally, I make all the final image preparations in Photoshop. This includes finalizing color and contrast adjustments, doing final sharpening and so on. For this reason, I do not use ImagePrint sharpening and color or contrast changes capabilities related to these adjustments.
However what I do use is ImagePrint tonal adjustments. When you print a photograph it will always look darker on paper than it does on the monitor. This is because while the image on a monitor is backlit a print is front lit. The light illuminating a print travels through the ink bounces off the white paper and travels back again through the ink before reaching the viewer’s eyes. A monitor image, on the other hand, is backlit. Light only needs to travel through the image once, from the back to the front of the monitor, to reach the viewer’s eye.
To compensate for this change in illumination photographs need to be lightened before they are printed. While this can be done in Photoshop or in Lightroom I prefer to do it in ImagePrint. The reason for this is simple. I publish my photographs in multiple venues: on the web, in printed publications, as PDFs and as fine art prints. Each of these publications has different requirements in terms of lightening or darkening the original master file. To create different versions of one image that take into account all these different uses would be inefficient because not all photographs are published in all these different outlets. It would also take a lot of time.
It is simpler and faster to make this adjustment in ImagePrint using the Tone/Gradation correction under the Edit menu. This adjustment, which is shown in the screenshot below, is always the same as long I use the same monitor and printer. It has to be recalculated if I change my monitor, printer or both.
8. Backgrounds and Gallery Wraps
Gallery wraps have become very popular both with photographers and with fine art collectors. They are called wraps because one or two inches of the canvas is wrapped around the stretcher bars that hold the canvas.
This can be done in one of three ways. You may print the photograph on an oversized piece of canvas and leave the canvas white. You can print the photograph on an oversized piece of canvas and print the oversized area black or another color. Or you can extend the image area so that part of the photograph covers the stretcher bars.
Personally, when I create a canvas wrap I don’t extend the photograph past the borders of the frame. For this reason, I leave the canvas borders white. After stretching the canvas I cover the borders with a canvas floater. When I do not want the borders to show I either print them black or cover them with black cloth tape. However, taste is personal and you may prefer to extend the photographs so that it wraps around the stretcher bars.
Of course, all of this can be done in Photoshop. However, it is time-consuming and it requires the creation of a separate file for canvas printing. ImagePrint, on the other hand, provides a more convenient solution by making all these options available in the Add Boundary dialog box.
When you select Gallery Wrap, Add Boundary gives you the option of extending the image area so that it wraps around the stretcher bars.
When you select Solid Add Boundary gives you the option of adding a border of any color around the image. You set the dimensions of this border to match the width of your stretcher bars.
One of the highlights of ImagePrint is the profiles. These profiles are unique in that they do not only allow you to select the paper brand, paper type and ink set. They also allow you to select the illuminant (the light source) that will be used to light your print when it is displayed.
10. Downloading Profiles
You can download profiles automatically from within ImagePrint using the profile manager (above) or the Profile Valet (below). These two options make finding, downloading and installing printer profiles a breeze.
When all the selections for media type, ink, illuminant and other are made it is time to send the print job to the printer. This is done by clicking on the Print button at the top of the Image Properties dialog box. ImagePrint will use the title of the first photograph in the job as the Job Name. However, you can change this title by typing a different title in the Job Name window.
When you click Print the print job is sent to SpoolFace from where it will be printed. SpoolFace is the ImagePrint Spooler. It is from SpoolFace that the print jobs are sent to the printer and monitored. The purpose of the spooler is to spool the print jobs from ImagePrint to the Printer using two-way communication in order to keep track of the printer’s progress and not overload it with information.
SpoolFace also gives you the option of recalling and reprinting a previous print job without having to redo all the settings. Your settings are saved with the original print job and as long as the location of the image file has not changed ImagePrint will be able to reconstruct and reprint the same job as many times as you want.
13. Trial Version
You can download a free trial version of ImagePrint from the ColorByte website here. This trial version will have all the functionality of the paid version except that the word DEMO will be visible across your photographs if you print them. However, the word DEMO will not be visible on your monitor. It will only be present on your prints.
14. ImagePrint/Colorbyte Contact Information
A discount is available for Luminous-landscape readers. To get this discount you can call or email John Pannozzo at Colorbyte Software here.
ColorByte Software website here.
234 Crystal Grove Blvd.
Lutz, Fl. 33548
ImagePrint provides a lot of convenient features that make the task of laying out and printing images faster and more effective. These features address both print quality and printing speed.
These features are important if you seek the highest print quality possible. They are also important if you want to save time when printing your work. Personally, I have been printing solely from ImagePrint since the late 1990’s, both to achieve superior print quality and to optimize my printing process. Today ImagePrint has become part of my workflow, both in technical and in artistic terms. It simplifies my life and it allows me to achieve the print quality I desire. I cannot match the print quality I achieve through ImagePrint with the Epson printer driver. For this reason, ImagePrint is an essential aspect of my personal style. I cannot consider doing the work I do without ImagePrint.
16. Workshops With Alain and Natalie Briot
If you enjoyed this essay you will enjoy attending a workshop with us. I lead workshops with my wife Natalie to the most photogenic locations in the US Southwest. Our workshops focus on the artistic aspects of photography. While we do teach technique, we do so for the purpose of creating artistic photographs. Our goal is to help you create photographs that you will be proud of and that will be unique to you. The locations we photograph include Navajoland, Antelope Canyon, Monument Valley, Zion, the Grand Canyon and many others. Our workshops listing is available at this link.
17. About Alain and Natalie Briot
You can find more information about our workshops, photographs, writings and tutorials as well as subscribe to our Free Monthly Newsletter on our website here. You will receive 40 free eBooks when you subscribe to my newsletter.
I create fine art photographs, teach workshops with Natalie and offer Mastery Tutorials on composition, image conversion, optimization, printing, business and marketing. I am the author of Mastering Landscape Photography, Mastering Photographic Composition, Creativity and Personal Style, Marketing Fine Art Photography and How Photographs are Sold. All 4 books are available in eBook format on our website at this link. Free samplers are available so you can see the quality of these books for yourself.