Thursday, September 23, 2010

Printing Series: Eddie Tapp – Photoshop Guru, Canon Explorer of Light and Canon Print Master

Copyright © Eddie Tapp –All Rights Reserved

In one of the first episodes of Scott Kelby’s Photoshop TV podcast that I watched, I saw how excited Matt Kloskowski was at idea of having Photoshop Hall of Fame member Eddie Tapp on their show. He exclaimed “Holy Crap, it’s Eddie Tapp” when Eddie arrived, and that pretty much sums up how I felt getting to talk to this Canon Explorer of Light.

Eddie has been a photographer since 1973, and was one of the early adopters to digital photography in 1993. He suffered through the early days of Photoshop and digital photography, but also helped to define many of the features we enjoy today. In the mid 90’s, Eddie was one of the first to take on the challenge of printing and by the mid 1990’s, he was already doing his own paper profiles. These days Eddie travels the world teaching Photoshop and digital workflow.

Eddie is not a high volume printer, but he does handle the printing needs of his portrait photographer fiancé Judy Host as well as doing printing for his classes and the occasional top pros who need assistance getting the most out of their Canon printer.

Eddie has had the opportunity to tour many of the major print facilities in the US and he’s observed that many labs have switched over to wide format Canon printers for their outstanding quality and high speed printing performance. Eddie was a former Epson printer user, and concedes that Epson prints are still very strong in the transitions in gradients, but that Canon has come along way to offer products (the 6300, 6350 & 8300) that match or surpass Epson’s performance in a variety of categories.

Eddie is quick to point out that he’s never had to replace the heads or had any issues with clogging on his Canon printers. Although he has one replacement print head on standby just in case there should be a problem, he’s never had to actually replace a head. He commends Canon for offering the solution of replaceable print heads as opposed to throwing the printer away as is required by some other in the industry. Eddie’s big tip to keep things working their best is to leave his Canon imagePROGRAF printers turned on as the printer will wake up occasionally and do what is necessary to avoid clogs. In addition, each head of the iPF6300/6350 features 2,560 nozzles with non-firing detection and compensation to ensure that a great print is always possible.

Black and White Printing

Copyright © Eddie Tapp –All Rights Reserved

In all of the photography forums where printing is discussed, the hot topic for the geeks is always Black and White printing performance. Eddie has pointed out that he has had excellent success on his Canon iPF6350 with his black & white images. He said that he is getting extremely clean grayscale images printed both as native b&w and full color images converted to b&w via the driver. Both techniques produce “superior results”, he said.

For those who want to control their Black and White output, Eddie was no different than all of the pros who I’ve interviewed in recommending Silver Efex for it’s superior grayscale performance.

Color Management / Paper Profiling Recommendations?

Eddie (a member of the X-Rite Coloratti) recommends using X-Rite’s ColorMunki for 13” and under printers, but for critical professional work he insists that the best results are only possible with a professional spectrometer like the X-Rite i1iSis XL Color Calibration System (B&H) combined with profile adjustments made using Profile Maker Pro (currently only available i1iSis bundles). The software more than the hardware is the critical element to creating a top notch profile. Ironically, Eddie reiterated a comment I heard made by another famous print master in this series in that the X-Rite i1iO Automated Scan Table also produce fantastic printer profiles as well (bargain hunters take note).

Printing Tips for the imagePROGRAF Print Plug-In (for Photoshop & DPP)

imagePROGRAF Print Plug-In Color Settings Tab

Eddie strongly recommends that when using the Canon Export Plug-In that the Color Settings tab is zeroed out (as shown) when using a good paper profile. He also finds that for most images that the best prints are achieved using the Perceptual matching method found on the Main tab (shown below). It should be noted that this is also called Rendering Intent by Adobe.

Auto (Color) Output Profile

Another great tip I got from Eddie is to use the Auto (Color) Output Profile option (shown above) when using Canon papers for the Media Type. When you do, the correct output profile for the given paper and settings will automatically be selected. I was very skeptical about this at first, but since I hated trying to hunt through that huge confusing list I thought I’d give it a try. Sure enough, Eddie was right and it worked like a charm – WOOHOO! Eddie also claims that if you use the Canon Media Configuration Tool to create a Media Type for a third party paper, then Auto (Color) will also automatically choose the correct profile for it too, but my Canon Field Analyst seemed unsure if that technique would work or not. I haven’t had a chance to try this yet, but I certainly will report back my findings in this article at a later date.

If you run into trouble or are unsure about how to get the best results from your imagePROGRAF printer, he pointed out that Canon’s customer service is  excellent. They are very knowledgeable and will walk you through any situation. On a separate note, I’ve also been told by Canon printing division field analysts that there are no overseas call centers, so you’ll get highly trained professionals actually based here in the US.

GOTCHA: Don’t forget to tell the printer AND the driver your media type

One issue Eddie warns new users about is to keep in mind is that when doing sheet fed paper, you MUST setup your paper on the printer itself (via its control panel). Only AFTER you do this should you also make the same media type selection on the printer plug-in or driver. This is a common mistake that people new to printing make, so he warned to be sure to look out for this problem. He also said to make sure to visit the web site for the latest software and firmware updates (example for the iPF6300) for your operating system.

Things to look for when making a great print

Sweet Light by Eddie Tapp
Copyright © Eddie Tapp –All Rights Reserved

  1. Make sure there are no lines, streaking, or bleeding colors.
  2. Color Matching – do the colors match your artistic intent?
  3. Tonal Gradation – ensure that there is a dynamic printable range from highlight to shadow especially in the transitional areas
  4. Sharpness (Ron recommends Sharpener Pro for its printer output sharpening feature)

A signature Eddie Tapp print is when where the color matching, shadow & highlight detail are all spot on.

Eddie Tapp’s Printing Motto - If you make it easy for me, I'm adapting it

“There is an area of absolute targeting (color, tonal, detail/sharpness) and then there is an area of forgiveness that one learns through printing experience with various papers. My objective is to obtain superb and predictable results. When that doesn't happen, a closer look at the file quality will usually define the reason.” – Eddie Tapp

Printers & Papers

Eddie Tapp owns and uses the following Canon printers:

iPF6350 (Amazon & Adorama), iPF5100 (Amazon & Adorama), iPF6200, PIXMA Pro9000 Mark II (Amazon & Adorama) & PIXMA Pro9500 Mark II (Amazon & Adorama)

Eddie uses and recommend the following Canon fine art papers:

Parting Words

It was an honor to have Eddie contribute his thoughts on his printing workflow on my blog. He is a super friendly guy who clearly cares about the people he works with. If you enjoyed this article, you should consider following Eddie on his blog at

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