Lab Printing with Lightroom
by Andrew Darlow
May 01, 2012 —
I really enjoyed teaching a MasterClass on printing with Lightroom at WPPI 2012 in Las Vegas this past February. Below are a few of the questions I was asked during and after the event, followed by my answers. I hope you find this to be a great reference as you delve into the application. The answers are applicable to both Lightroom 3 and 4 unless specifically noted.
Question 1: We send a lot of PDF files via e-mail to our clients, and you showed a tip during the workshop that allows Lightroom users to “Print to a PDF” in the Print Module. When you do this, will the image(s) inside the PDF retain the resolution settings that you set in the Develop Module?
Andrew Darlow: Yes. Any resolution settings (as well as any sharpening or Print Module Brightness/Contrast adjustments—a new feature in Lightroom 4) will be retained. To create PDFs for sending via e-mail, I recommend setting the resolution box to about 72-to-100 ppi (see Fig. 1 for a look at some suggested settings). You should always run a test first, since the resolution setting you choose will depend on how large you want the images to be viewed on screen (without pixilation). When printing to an inkjet printer, I almost always recommend choosing a profile from the drop-down window (and turning off color management in the printer driver), but for this approach, based on my testing, it’s best to use “Managed by Printer” as shown in Fig. 1.
To save a file from the Print Module as a PDF on a Mac, send the file as though you were going to make a print by pressing Print in the bottom right corner of the Print Module, but instead of choosing a printer in the Print dialog box, select “Save as PDF” from the bottom left corner of the Print dialog box in Mac OSX (circled in red in Fig. 2). Also, I should mention that printing to PDF is built into the Mac OS but not the Windows OS. To get similar functionality on a Windows system, I recommend using Primo PDF (www.primopdf.com), a free application that has more options than Apple’s built-in tool, including the ability to choose compression settings to reduce PDF file sizes (a good preset to start with is the “e-book” setting shown in Fig. 3). To use it, just select PrimoPDF as your printer, and after you click Print, the dialog box in Fig. 3 will appear.
Mac or Windows users can use Acrobat Pro to open and compress PDFs to reduce file sizes (PDFpen is a less expensive alternative for Mac users). Acrobat Pro users can choose Document>Reduce File Size, or for more control, open the PDF and choose Advanced>PDF Optimizer, then adjust your settings to match the compression settings that you want. Acrobat Pro Mac users will also see the option: “Save as Adobe PDF” in the bottom left corner of the Print dialog box (circled in blue in Fig. 2).
After you select it, you will be able to choose from many presets that will allow you to compress your files inside the PDF.
Another option is to just export your image(s) as JPEG files by changing the “Printer” drop-down menu in Lightroom’s Print Module to “JPEG File,” with the JPEG Quality set to about 80 (circled in Fig. 4). Most e-mail programs will accept JPEGs as attachments. One big advantage of PDFs over JPEGs is that PDFs can be multi-page, so your clients can view the PDF like a book.
Q2: You mentioned a plug-in for Zenfolio that makes it easy to send files from your Lightroom catalog to a Zenfolio gallery. Can you provide more information and are there similar plug-ins for other services like, for example, SmugMug?
AD: The plug-in for Zenfolio that I really like and use is by a developer named Jeffrey Friedl. You first install the plug-in from the site http://regex.info/blog/lightroom-goodies. The way I use it is as follows: I first set up my Zenfolio gallery on Zenfolio.com so that the gallery is ready for images to be imported into it. You can create a new gallery inside the plug-in’s interface, but I find it easier to create new galleries on Zenfolio’s site, especially because I create passwords for almost all of my client galleries.
I then create a Lightroom Collection and put the photos in the order I want them to appear in my Zenfolio catalog. I then select all of them and choose File>Export..., but instead of choosing “Hard Drive” from the options at the top of the screen, I choose “jf Zenfolio” (Fig. 5 shows the jf Zenfolio plug-in interface). I then select my image sizing and compression options (JPEG, TIFF, etc.), and I choose the gallery I just created from the list in the plug-in interface. I then go back to my Zenfolio page and choose “Sort By: Upload Order” (circled in Fig. 6) so that the images appear in the order I arranged them in Lightroom. And to answer the second part of the question, Jeffrey Friedl has also written export plug-ins for other sites and services, including Facebook, SmugMug and Flickr (all can be accessed from the regex.info link listed previously).
Q3: Where are the Print Module templates located on my hard drive?
AD: The easiest way to go directly to your Print Module templates is by doing the following: Right click (or Ctrl Click for Mac) on any template, then choose “Show in Finder,” and the folder in which it resides will appear. You can then copy any preset to another location, such as your desktop. You’ll also find other templates and presets there by navigating up a few levels to the Lightroom folder (Fig. 7 shows the folder structure on a Mac). I recommend backing up that folder on a regular basis.
To navigate to your Lightroom templates and preference files from your desktop Finder (Mac)/Explorer (Windows), see the information on this page of Adobe’s Web site: http://tinyurl.com/LR4files. It also has a link to information about how Mac OSX 10.7 Lion users can find the User Library folder and Lightroom files, because 10.7 currently hides them by default.
Andrew Darlow is a photographer and consultant based in the New York City area. He is editor of the Imaging Buffet (www.imagingbuffet.com), an online resource with news, reviews and interviews covering the subjects of digital photography and printing. For printing tips, free chapter downloads of his book, and his color management/printing workshop and lecture schedule, visit www.inkjettips.com.
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