Print Image Preparation Guide

Capturing the Image (some camera settings)

  • Most cameras offer a range of resolution/quality settings for the images you take. Make sure your camera is set to the highest resolution and/or the finest quality setting provided. 
  • If your camera is capable of saving images as RAW files decide which file format to use JPEG or RAW or maybe both

JPEG v’s RAW image files

JPEG files from a camera are quick and convenient to use as they generally have: 

  • White balance applied 
  • Some sharpening applied 
  • Some level and colour adjustment applied 
  • Some noise reduction applied 
  • Compressed to take up less file space

On the other hand if you have an image with incorrect white balance or blown out highlights then a RAW file allows you to apply all your own adjustments. RAW files generally have 12bits of digital information per RGB (Red, Green, Blue) pixel vs 8bits for a JPEG file. This allows some of the lost highlight and shadow detail to be recovered. The downside of RAW files is that they take more of your precious time in post processing them. Most modern cameras that offer RAW files often have the ability to produce both RAW and JPEG for each shot. This means that you only have to process the images that may require adjustment.

Factors involved in capturing a good image

The more you can capture a good image in your camera the less you have to process it later.

My main points would be:

  • The right light. Photography is all about light
  • Understanding what your camera sees compared to the human eye. i.e. Shadow and highlights, The colour of artificial light sources.
  • Composition

Image Post Processing

This is a separate subject on its own and we won’t go into this except to say that one of the simplest things to do and often has the most dramatic effect is to crop your image (if required). All image editing software programmes from the most expensive to the free ones will allow you to do this. If you are mounting a print in a mat frame you can use the mat opening to crop by hiding some of the image.


Always use a high resolution file (i.e greatest number of pixels) to print from. Printers have far higher resolution that the monitor screen attached to your computer. 

Printing at Home

Be aware that often not all the colours you see on the screen will print the same on paper. Part of this can be calibration and part the fact that most printers cannot reproduce all the colours you see on a screen. Photoshop has a so called ‘Gamut warning’ that can give you an idea of what may or may not print. Highly saturated colours can be problematic.

It also helps if your screen and printer are colour calibrated. The club has a colour calibration device which can be borrowed by members.

Printing your own images does give you a lot more control over exposure and colour rendition. Apart from the mount you use, printing is the end point in controlling the appearance of your image.

Canon and Epson are the two popular brands producing a range of photo inkjet printers. Even the lower cost models are capable of impressive results and can print in excess of 1200DPI (dots per inch). Also modern photo printer provide inks with improved colour longevity. One of the cheaper Epson printers claims 200 years if kept in an album.

Printing at a Photo Lab or shop

For those who do not own a photo printer the following providers have been used by members to print their images.

Paper Types

These generally fall into about four groups

• Glossy
• Semi-Gloss
• Matte
• Specialty

Choosing a paper is generally a personal thing and you often find that some images suit a particular paper type. You can also notice slight colour and perceived sharpness shifts between papers. Once again this is where calibration can play a part.

Print Mounting Methods

For club competition work images are never mounted under glass or in a wooden frame. Generally they are mounted on a firm card or maybe a wooden backing.

The following styles are used: 

Mount print directly on a backing which also provides a border 
Mount print directly on a backing with no border 
Mount print on a backing with an overlaid mat frame.

The last style is the most popular at the current time. This is the style we will discuss tonight.

Print Mount Sizes

The mount sizes accepted by APS for competitions are:

  • Max: 400mm x 500mm
  • Min: 210mm x 297mm (A4 size)

The images placed on these mounts will generally be smaller to the extent of any border used.

These sizes line up with outside competitions which are also typically 400mm x 500mm maximum.

Labelling a Print for an APS Competition

Before entering your print into a competition make sure you have labeled the rear - preferably the top left corner with the following information: 

  • Your Name 
  • Grade: i.e. Novice , Advanced or Salon 
  • Section: i.e. Set Subject or Open 
  • Title

Registering a Print for an APS Competition

All images both print and digitally projected must be registered via the APS website. To do this log in (must be a member) and upload your image file. The file size for print registration is the same as for digital entries i.e.
no wider than 1920 pixels and no higher than 1080 pixels.
This means you need to check both width and height for conformity. Check the section on page 17 below to see how this is done. The image must not contain a watermark.

NB: Before resizing make sure to keep a copy of the original high resolution file. This is required for printing or possible future editing.

Basic Mat Mounting technique 

Typical Tools 

  • Ruled mat (warning use for sizing only as the hard surface blunts blades very quickly) 
  • Knife (Stanley or similar) 
  • Ruler 
  • Pencil 
  • Mat cutter 
  • Tapes (possibly acid free) 
  • Adhesive dots

Typical simple mat cutter (around $90-$100.00)  Logan Starter kit 

Step By Step

  • Place your image on the rear of the mat and mark out the window area. Bottom border larger than top border

  • Use the mat cutter to cut a window (from rear)

NB: put some old cardboard under the mat board being cut. This will prevent the tip of the cutting blade from becoming blunt or damaged.

  • Attach tape to top edge of print

  • Place mat over print and press to attach

  • Complete by attaching the mat to a backing board (i.e. Foam board) with either a taped internal hinge or double sided tape.

You can watch a video by Logan (the most popular hand cutters) here >> Logan Cutter Tutorial

Suppliers of Materials and Tools

Mat board, Mat cutters and associated materials can be purchased from:

Gordon Harris stores (discounted for club members)

4 Gillies Avenue, Newmarket

31 Symonds street

Northridge Plaza, Albany

Tayles Framing Supplies

Building 2, 50 Frost Rd, Mt Roskill

Mat board usually comes in 32x40 inch sheets which cost around $20.00 per sheet. Mat board comes in a variety of colours. Some options allow the beveled window edge to show as a contrasting colour -typically black or white.

Foam board sheets are popular for the backing card and come in similar sized sheets costing around $13.00 to $17.00 for a 5mm thickness.

Suppliers of Materials and Services

Supply and cut a mat
Tayles Framing Supplies 
Building 2, 50 Frost Rd, Mt Roskill

Factory Frames 
22 Apollo Drive Mairangi Bay 

72 Lunn Avenue Mt Wellington