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Preparing images to print in Lightroom

printing in lightroom

For most people printing photos is a bit of a nightmare with so much to learn from colour management right through to resolution. I wanted to go through the process I use for preparing my images for printing using Adobe Lightroom. First we need to understand all the setting inside the lightroom print module, bellow I have given an explanation of the settings and provided some photos too just to make things easier.

STEP 1 – Find the Print menu in Lightroom:

The menu can be found on the top-right of the screen and there you will find the Print module.

lightroom print menu

STEP 2 – Layout Styles

Lightroom Layout Styles

  • Single Image / Contact Sheet – Print selected images at the same size
  • Picture Package – Print selected images at various sizes
  • Custom Package – Print selected images at any size in and in whatever configuration you want

STEP 3 – Image Settings

Lightroom Image Settings

  • Zoom To Fill – If the image does not fit the dimensions you want then this setting will fill the empty space by zooming in. Some of your image will be cropped as a result.
  • Rotate To Fit – Rotates the image if necessary to produce the largest photo possible. Great if you want to print landscape and portrait images at the same size without having to manually rotate the photos
  • Repeat One Photo Per Page – Repeats your photo in every image cell on the page in a Grid template layout.
  • Photo Border – Adds a border of the specified width to the photo in each image cell.
  • Inner Stroke – Adds an inner stroke of the specified width and color to the photo in each image cell.

STEP 4 – Layout

lightroom layout

  • Margins – The space between the paper edge and what you want to print
  • Page Grid (Rows and Columns) – Adds horizontal and vertical windows
  • Cell Spacing (Vertical and Horizontal) – Space added between horizontal and vertical windows
  • Cell Size – The exact size you would like the windows to be
  • Keep Quare – Keeps width and height the same.

STEP 5 – Guides

lightroom print guides

These settings allows you to switch on and off all the viewable elements

STEP 6 – Page

lightroom print page

  • Identity Plate – Unlike a watermark the Identity Plate is added only once to the final print
  • Watermark – Adds a watermark to every image
  • Page Options(Page Numbers, Page Info and Crop Marks) – Easily number your printed pages and add extra information such as crop marks
  • Photo Info – Add image specific information such as the filename, ,exposure, title, caption etc

STEP 7 – Print Job

lightroom print job

Here you can specify to sent to a printer or print to jpeg which you then sent to the printers. Other options include print resolution and the paper size to print on under “Custom File Dimensions”. You can also select sharpening level and whether you will be printing on matte or gloss paper. Finally you choose the Colour Management which is great if your printers supply you with a colour profile file

STEP 8 – Print to File

lightroom print button
To complete you can send it straight to your printer or print to jpeg

Printing Brightness Warning

Sometime your photos look lovely on screen but when they are printed the brightness just isn’t there or at least not the same as what you see on screen. There are several things you can do to resolve printing brightness.

1 – Turn the brightness on your screen down. A screen that is too bright will result in darker prints because it tricks you to think tha the image is exposed brighter than it actually is.
2 – Use a screen calibrator which enables me to get correct colours, contrast and brightness. I use the Spyder4Pro.
3 – If you haven’t got a screen calibrator best thing to do is to get one photo and create three 10″x10″ print files for printing:

  • FILE 1 – 1 stop of brightness added just before exporting for print.
  • FILE 2 – 1 and a half stops of brightness added just before exporting for print.
  • FILE 3 – 2 stops of brightness added just before exporting for print.

Then I send the files to the printers I use. Once I get the prints back I’ll select the best print that matches what I like and if I like 2 stops exposure then before sending my images to print in the future then I’ll add 2 stops just before exporting (after exporting make sure you put the image back to its normal exposure).

My printing method

Because I do not shoot weddings I don’t usually print more than one photo per page.
I first start by going to Print Job and manually typing in the exact paper dimensions supplied by my printers such as 23.40inx16.50in which is their A2 paper size.
I prefer to print on lustre (matte) paper up to A3 size, then Satin or Ultra Pearl from A2 upwards.

If you’re going to print large A2 and up then you need to be mindful of the resolution (DPI/PPI), for example I would not print for a billboard at 300dpi because no one will get close enough to it to appreciate any detail never mind the fact that you would need a huge megapixel raw file in order to produce good details at that scale when standing up close.
For a billboard I would go as low as 150dpi to 170 dpi.Once I’ve got my file size and resolution sorted then I go through each image and print each to file before I upload them to the printers.
Unless your printer supplier provides you with a colour profile then the safest bet is to use sRGB under colour management as this is the industry standard and majority of print companies use sRGB.

I hope that helps you to navigate printing your photos without building up a sweat, using this method will allow you to easily get your photos at the right size, colours and dpi to your printers. Enjoy