Making Prints - Marc Allen

The short version:

Pictures on this website are optimized so that when you buy a print, the print will look great.  This means when viewed on the website they might look a little extra bright and a little extra colorful.   If you wish to purchase a digital copy of a picture and have specific requests for look and feel, please contact me.

The longer version:

Today's monitors and other screens (phones) come with the ability to produce very bright illumination and strong contrast.  This increases the amount of dynamic range you perceive when viewing a photo digitally.  What is dynamic range?  It is simply how how big the difference is between bright areas and dark areas within the picture.

So what's the problem?  A printed version of a photo is going to be noticeably darker.  In fact, a print will look more than one stop darker than its digital counterpart.  What's a stop?  In photography, a "stop" is a measure of how much light hits the sensor or film.  If you go down one stop, you cut the amount of light in half!  A print also reduces the amount of dynamic range, compared to what you see on a screen.

So what's the problem?  When starting out, I made some pictures and I thought they looked nice on my computer.  Then, before I tried to sell them, I ordered some sample prints.  They looked wrong!  Most of the picture was too dark, and subtle differences between light and dark on my monitor were now invisible on the print!

To make matters slightly more complicated, SmugMug gives me the choice of using 3 different printing labs, between which there are slight variations in how they process color.

Let's just say that a long process of experimentation followed, in the pursuit of a print that I could feel good about selling.  In the end, I found I had to re-edit several of my pictures, and afterward people commented on how bright and saturated they looked when viewed online.  Sometimes, I will even share a darker version of the picture on social media.  That said, I feel confident that you will appreciate the effort I put into making sure the prints you order from this website look as good as possible.