In a perfect world you would have the ideal digital darkroom set-up:
1. Large calibrated monitor and all the ram you can stuff into your computer.
2. The Epson printer of your dreams and an unlimited quantity of the papers you love to print on.
3. And last but not least a profile that has been built for every single paper type you want to have on hand.
But you are students living on fumes and Top Ramen and don’t have the funds to get all this stuff done.
Before the digital darkroom reached the sophisticated level it’s at today we relied on the wet darkroom to make prints. Once we loaded the negative into the enlarger our first step was to make a test strip. A test strip is a series of exposures made on one sheet of paper. A black card was used to cover the paper that we didn’t want exposed, we’d make a series of 4 exposures across the paper each exposure was 5 seconds long. The result would be 4 exposures at 5 seconds, 10 seconds, 15 seconds and 20 seconds. From this we could tell what the proper exposure was and we could also see how to adjust the color.
Because you may not have the right tools at this point and can’t always control where and who will make your prints here’s something you can try. Once you’re ready to send your file off to be printed (if you’re not lucky enough to have your own printer) send one you feel comfortable with…if it comes back great no problem…if not try this technique.
The image I want to print:
The first thing you want to do is create a new Photoshop document…COMMAND “N” will allow you to this…
Push the “M” for the marquee tool…draw a selection around the important part of your image hit the “V” key for the move tool and drag the selected area to your new document.
Use the short cut, COMMAND “J” to create two duplicate layers. Now you’ll have a total of three layers.
This is what you should have:
Now you can begin to use some adjustment layers to adjust color. In this case I used selective color. Since I’m dealing with skin tones I worked with the reds. The cool thing about selective Color is that you can adjust all the color components that make up the color you’re working on…both primary and secondary color.
I adjusted each layer so there would be warmer and cooler variations.
You can also add a curves or levels adjustment layer to get various densities on the test strip. Make sure you group the adjustment layers with each layer of the image so you are only appling those adjustments to the intended layer.
Once you’ve seen the test strip and you’ve selected the adjustments that are giving you what you want… go ahead and select them in your layers palate and drag them to the image to be printed…all done!