From digital land­scape image to fine art print

The number of images taken in the world increases year after year. Many of them sink into insi­gni­fi­cance in the depths of data carriers. But still they exist, the snapshots or even high-calibre, well-planned, well-composed photo­graphs that are abso­lutely worth prin­ting out in the best possible quality and hanging on the wall so that ever­yone who comes to visit can see them. Espe­ci­ally photo­graphs from nature and land­sca­pe­pho­to­graphy come to life when printed on a large format and thus amaze the viewer. On the way from camera sensor to fine art pigment print on exclu­sive photo paper (or photo print behind acrylic, canvas etc.) lurk some pitfalls that I would like to explain in this blog post.

I will explain how to convert a digital image into a printed photo and what factors to consider. We will look at the role of the colour space and the reso­lu­tion, which types of paper and Printer are best suited and how to prepare the image to achieve the best result. An inte­res­ting topic that, once you have gone through it and have your first own print in your hands, can lead to streams of enthusiasm.

The captured image

Already when taking the picture, one should pay atten­tion to a certain stan­dard. Because accor­ding to the motto “shit in, shit out”, the end result can only be as good as the starting point, but not better. For this reason, I recom­mend, as is often the case, to take your photos in the RAW file format of your camera this is the only way to have the best control over colours, sharp­ness, etc. in image processing.

Solid and Vola­tile | Sony a7III + Sony FE 4/24–105 mm G @ 24 mm, f/13, 0.4 sec, ISO 400

This and all other shots of this post you can request under “Prints” as an art print for your wall at home directly from me. 

Colour space and resolution

The two most important factors in conver­ting a digital image into a printed photo­graph are colour space and reso­lu­tion. The colour space refers to the number of colours that an image can repre­sent. Humans have a certain colour space that they can see at all, shown as a coloured area in the follo­wing photo. The sRGB colour space was intro­duced as a stan­dard some years ago to reduce or stan­dar­dise colour shifts between diffe­rent moni­tors and devices. Photo­shop and Ligh­t­room , as image editing soft­ware, work intern­ally with ProPho­toRGB and thus the largest digital colour space, which parti­ally exceeds human vision. AdobeRGB covers more colours than the sRGB colour space, and was actually deve­loped to transfer files into the print colour space CMYK, as it covers all colours of the print. However, this is where the danger curr­ently lurks.

Which colour space is best (suitable)?

Often the ques­tion for begin­ners is, do I shoot my RAWs in the sRGB or AdobeRGB colour space? Probably some will think AdobeRGB would be the better choice, as this colour space contains more colours, which is of course correct. But very few people have a monitor that can display these colours, so, to put it simply, they are proces­sing colours that they cannot see and on which they have virtually no correct influence. This leads on the one hand to colour shifts when a device that can only display sRGB displays a file and on the other hand to “misin­ter­pre­ta­tion” as far as colours in the finished print are concerned. So in most cases it is better to use the stan­dard RGB (sRGB). (You can find more on this topic here. It will be some time before AdobeRGB is more or less the new stan­dard and you should orien­tate yourself on what your screen can display to you.


From screen with sRGB to print in CMYK

But even the sRGB colour space, which we mostly use for digital images, can repre­sent many more colours than the CMYK colour space used for prin­ting. Ther­e­fore, if you want to print your digital image, you need to convert it to the CMYK colour space to ensure that the colours are repre­sented correctly. This is done with the help of the printer driver and icc profiles adapted to paper and prin­ting inks. With them we can also simu­late the print result on the monitor. More about this later. It is important to under­stand that in the RGB colour space, put simply, a black screen is made to glow with the help of the colours and in the CMYK colour space a white sheet is coloured.


Very briefly, a few words about reso­lu­tion. Reso­lu­tion refers to the number of pixels in an image. For good print quality, you should make sure that the reso­lu­tion of the image is high enough. A reso­lu­tion of 300 dpi (dots per inch) is ideal for prin­ting. For compa­rison, an image for the web often has a reso­lu­tion of just 72 dpi. If the reso­lu­tion is too low, the image will look blurred and pixel­ated in print.

Monitor and calibration

I hope you are still with me after the some­what dry topic of colour space. Perhaps you will now realise why a good monitor that covers at least almost 100 % of the sRGB is neces­sary and why the cali­bra­tion of this monitor is important.

To put it bluntly, if your screen is set too warm, you will probably process your images with too cool colours. If the monitor colours are set too cold, your image will have too warm colours. If your monitor is too bright, you will edit too dark, if your monitor is too dark, you will edit too bright, etc.

I myself use a Benq monitor with 100% sRGB colour coverage and cali­brate it at least once a month with my Data­color SpyderX Elite to ensure that my photos are displayed opti­mally on the web as they will be when printed later. When it comes to prin­ting, please under­stand monitor cali­bra­tion not as a gimmick but as a necessity.

Paper and printer

The paper you print the image on and the printer you use are also important factors. But even if you don’t print yourself, but have the prints made, make sure you only trust suppliers who also offer you icc profiles for the product. Other­wise, the result will not satisfy you, I am sure. With the help of icc-profiles you can simu­late the print output and the influence of the paper colour in Ligh­t­room (soft­proof in the deve­lo­p­ment module) and Photo­shop (Ctrl+Y or view/colour proof). You can then prepare the file a little for prin­ting. I usually correct the expo­sure slightly upwards, increase the contrast and satu­ra­tion if neces­sary. Depen­ding on the paper/printer. Then the image proces­sing for prin­ting also fits.


An important point is to choose the right printer/printing service provider. An inkjet printer is ideal for prin­ting photos as it offers high colour accu­racy and good detail. Espe­ci­ally in the fine art prin­ting sector, three manu­fac­tu­rers have emerged, namely Epson, HP and Canon, which offer a really convin­cing print quality with high quality pigment ink.

You should pay parti­cular atten­tion to print service provi­ders. Do they offer icc profiles? Are they renowned photo labs with good ratings? It is not uncommon for the chea­pest to be the ones with the lowest quality. So it’s some­times worth spen­ding an extra euro. 


If you print yourself, be sure to follow the printer and paper manufacturer’s recom­mended settings. For my printer (an Epson SC-P900) and the Hahne­mühle© papers used, there are coor­di­nated icc profiles with recom­mended settings available for down­load. Proceed step by step and you will have a very good print result.

If you use a print service provider, down­load the icc profiles from their home­page and try to repro­duce the print result on your own cali­brated monitor. Then export a JPG or TIFF with the adjusted settings for prin­ting by the service provider. 

Printer settings

When prin­ting from Photo­shop (which I recom­mend), I always bring the file into the vertical arran­ge­ment before­hand, as the printer also feeds the paper in this way. This way you have the least problems with incor­rect crop­ping, alignment etc. I adjust the image size in advance to the desired final result and then go to the print menu. Now it is important that the colour hand­ling is set to colour manage­ment by Photo­shop and the correct printer profile (icc) is selected. Render prio­rity should be set to rela­tive colou­ri­me­tric. This is used to crop and adjust colours that cannot be printed. Select the correct paper size and print quality in the printer settings and start printing.


The subject of paper (and, indeed, other print media) is a big one where, on the one hand, personal prefe­rences matter, but on the other hand, a whole world of its own emerges when you delve deeper into it. First and fore­most, of course, it is the artist who uses the chosen paper to empha­sise the message of his or her work and the character of the motif. Glossy or matt paper is suitable for prin­ting photos. Each type of paper has its own advan­tages and disad­van­tages, these can be black and white values, diffe­rent surface struc­tures, but also the compo­si­tion of the mate­rials and sustaina­bi­lity is a topic that is incre­asingly coming into focus, espe­ci­ally among nature photo­graphers. And it is important to choose the right paper for the desired result.

Prepa­ring for printing

The steps as a short checklist:

Before you print the image, make sure you follow these steps step-by-step to ensure that your end result is satisfactory.


It can seem a little compli­cated at first, because prin­ting digital images requires a certain amount of prepa­ra­tion and know­ledge about colour space, reso­lu­tion, paper and printer. However, if you take these factors into account and follow a step-by-step approach, you can be sure that your high-quality printed photos will look as good as they do on screen.

If you have any addi­tions or if I have forgotten some­thing, please write them in the comm­ents. Also feel free to write me if you want me to explain the whole process in a video.

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