Author: Ctein


Ctein is the author of several hundred magazine articles on photographic topics and of POST EXPOSURE: Advanced Techniques for the Photographic Printer (Focal Press, 2000). He has been doing darkroom printing for 40 years and is one of the few remaining practitioners of the art of dye transfer printing. He has been making electronic and digital prints for over 30 years. Ctein resides in Daly City CA in a house that overlooks the ocean with his companion of 20 years, Paula Butler, along with too many computers, 20,000 books, and two demented psittacines.

Posts by Ctein:

Figure 1: A contact sheet with a large assortment of different image files on it makes a good printer/eyeball test.

The Fine Art of Digital Printing: How Much Print Sharpness Should You Care About?


Don’t believe what some author tells you is the right answer; their taste is unlikely to be the same as yours. Also, “good enough” is going to depend upon subject matter and viewing distance. Everyone’s going to get a different answer. It’s not possible to make perfectly sharp prints today, but you can figure out…

Figure 1: 1) A photograph like this demands as much sharpness as I can get from it in a print.

The Fine Art of Digital Printing: What is a Sharp Digital Print?


You can think about print sharpness in two ways; there is acceptable sharpness and then there’s perfect sharpness. Acceptable sharpness is when you look at the print and think to yourself, “Gee, that looks nice and sharp.”  For most people, an 8 x 10 print looks nice and sharp so long as it has 250-350…

Figure 1: This photograph prints out nice and sharp at 11x14" image size.

The Fine Art of Digital Printing: PPI? DPI? — Part 2


Last time I talked about PPI (pixels per inch) — click here to read the first article. This time it’s DPI.  People use the terms interchangeably, but they aren’t the same. In fact, DPI doesn’t even mean just one thing. DPI originally stood for “dots per inch.” That meant the halftone dots that make up…


The Fine Art of Digital Printing: PPI? DPI? — Part 1


Some understandable amount of confusion exists in the world of photography over the terms “PPI” and “DPI.” They do not mean the same thing. First, there’s  PPI. That stands for “pixels per inch.” A pixel is the basic unit of a digital image, simply a point of visual information. When we talk about an image…

Figure 8: The final results. The glare spots are gone, and this will print out much more attractively than the original

The Fine Art of Digital Printing: How to Get Rid of Shiny Highlights on Faces


In my last column (read it here), I talked about an easy way to even out the color in skin tones. This time, I’ll tell you about an easy way to soften glare and highlight in faces using the  content-aware Spot Healing Brush in Adobe Photoshop CS5.  This is much improved over the Spot Healing…

Figure 4

The Fine Art of Digital Printing: Easy, Pleasing Skin Tones


Extraordinarily accurate color rendition is a hallmark of today’s digital cameras and color films (especially when said films are scanned rather than printed in the darkroom). Unfortunately, accuracy is not what we are always after. Sometimes we want a photograph to look good, not correct. Skin tones are a special problem, simply because our brains…

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