You've taken a superb photograph, edited it so it looks stunning, uploaded it to your favourite social networking site, but what do you do with it now? It's estimated that there's 2.5 Billion digital cameras in the world. And if each photographer takes a conservative 150 images a year (I usually exceed that in a month) thats a whopping 375 Billion images a year. ( Approximately 70 Billion images a year (and constantly rising) are uploaded to Facebook alone, and theres Billions more on photo sharing sites like Flickr and Kodak Gallery.  With an average 14 Megapixel image size of 4 to 5 Megabytes, there's literally Gigabytes full of photos cluttering up our hard drives slowing our (definately mine) computers down.

On the whole we never print our photo's at home. This stems from two reasons: 10 years ago printer inks were (and still are in some cases) ultra expensive. Five or six years ago ComputerActive magazine did a study on photo printer cartridges, and concluded that some inks cost more per ml than the top brand perfumes (and yes, you've guessed it, one was my photo printer cartridge). 10 years ago, including photo paper, it cost over 50p a photo to print at home. If you consider an average cartridge printed between 200 - 500 (dependant on cartridge) pages of text at an average 5% coverage per page (that's 5% of the paper having ink on, at a cost of between £20 & £30 per set of cartridges more for expensive photo printers) then an A4 print at 100% coverage would yeild between 10 and 25 pages (5% is 1/20th) or if you did four 6 x4 inch prints (= 1 A4 sheet) per page you'd get between 40 and 125 prints, which works out at 50p per 6 x 4 photo's or £2.00 per A4 print for a 200 page cartridge costing £20.00 or 16p per 6 x4 photo and 64p per A4 print for a £20.00 500 page cartridge. That's without paper. My HP 6 x 4 inch printer averaged 60 sheets a 7 ml cartridge equivalent to 33p a sheet. Buying a larger volume compatible cartridge from the stationary store owned by a TV 'Dragon' (17ml) reduced the cost to about 13p. Compatible, or remanufactured cartridges may save you a lot of money, but the ink may clog your printer up, and if it's a new one, will invalidate your warranty.

Thankfully, modern printer cartridges have a much higher yield today, or have dropped in price, making home printing much more economical. My current printer is good for 2500 pages at 5% coverage. so I'll print a photo. In the Taskbar, click on the image of a file to open Windows explorer and double click on the 'Pictures' Library. Navigate to the folder the image you'd like to print is in, and double click it. If you double click on the image you want to print. It will open in a screen like the one on the right.

Click the down arrow by the 'Print tab' and then click 'Print' (It's a printer Icon) and you should see a screen similar to the one on the left.  If you've more than one printer, select it from the drop down menu on the left of the dialogue box. The default printer is always selected, so if your photo printer isn't your normal printer, you need to select it.

Next we select paper  size. In the UK and Europe A4 is default, in the US and Canada it's Letter. That's fine if we want to print a full page photo, but if not, click the 'Paper size' tab then scroll down and click 'More'. Choose the right size for your photo paper.

Next, click on the paper type. Several choices will apear.  You'll need a glossy Photo paper, and your printer driver will have added several of it's own paper types.The printer will be optimised to give better results with it's own papers, though this is a marketing gimmick and any paper should give good results unless the printer's faulty.  Let's assume your using 'Other Photo Papers'. You could select your printer manufacturers own paper when using generic paper to see if it gets better results. Select this, then click on the number of copies to set the number of prints we want, and then if you're doing a full page print, ensure 'Fit picture to frame' is also checked.

There's a scroll bar to the right, and we can scroll and select the number of prints on the page. We'll leave this at 'Full page photo's' for this workshop.

Next check the paper is loaded in the printer correctly, and that the glossy side is the right way up. My printer feeds from an input tray at the bottom. Printers that feed this way usually need to have the glossy side facing down, as the the paper goes over several rollers in a U shaped fashion to come out of the printer glossy side up. Printing on the wrong side often producers blurry oe smudged prints that look awful, so make sure you get it right.

Finally, just click print, and it will send your image to the printer. Photos take a while to print, and, epending on your model, could take between 2 and 5 minutes for a full page. print. Voila! Your print is ready. Carefully remove it from the printer by the edges and lay it on a flat surface and let it dry. If you're printing several copies, then make sure you remove them as they finish printing, because if you let the next copy drop on to it, the wet ink could mark the back of the top copy, damaging the copy underneath.

Another way of printing is to take your memory card or a CD with your pictures on to a store and print your own pictures off. Take your memory card, CD, Camera or Bluetooth enabled phone to your nearest photo store. They'll have dedicated photo kiosks that let you print your photo's off. Touch the screen to begin, select what you'd like to do (Print photo's, create a birthday card, calender or photo book etc... from the on screen menu) then insert your Memory card into the correct slot, or attach your camera with it's usb lead if your photos are on the cameras internal memory or put your CD into the drive. Follow the onscreen instructions, and select the photo's you want to print by tapping them on the touch screen, and then print them off. You can edit photo's to crop them, remove red eye, add frames and more before you print.

If you have photos on a bluetooth phone, some kiosks will detect it and transfer images to it, saving you the trouble of taking your memory card from the phone.

Printing from a kiosk is very easy to do. When you do it this way, it's quick and convenient to do. Prices start at about 20p per print, but the more you print, the cheaper it gets. The biggest advantage is that the store staff are on hand to guide you if it's complicated. And the print quality is better than doing it at home.

And you don't even have to take anything to the store with you. Some kiosks are web connected to allow you to print photo's from facebook or other similar sites.

But for the best prints, you have to do it the old fashioned way. No, I don't mean using film, I mean using a photo lab. Photo stores and supermarkets will do it for you. Simply put all the images you want printing onto a memory card or cd. Follow my Transferring images to your computer article but do it in reverse. Insert a memory card into your computer, or attach the camera via USB (make sure the card is in the camera first), and drag and drop the images you want to it. The store will make a copy of the images to use and print them off for you. It's just like the old way, where you wait a day or two for your photo's to be ready. You can get a one hour service if you need them quickly done. The prints are made using photographic chemicals on proper photo paper just like they print film prints. You can order enlargements and traditional photo gifts, as well as mugs, T-shirts, calenders and other gifts. too.

You can also order prints on line. You just upload the prints to the website, and then await delivery. Many sites offer free prints when you join. Martin Lewis' Money Saving Expert has the best deals online.Whilst reasearching this article  I was able get free personalised cards from two of the deals listed. Other sites like vouchercodes will give you codes to get discounts on printing.

It's really easy printing your own images. Now the cost of printing your digital photo's has fallen, why not give it a try?


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