Making 8.5 x 11 Digital Prints

I’ve been making 5×7″ prints for several years. I like small prints that are handy to toss around on the coffee table, are easily mounted in notebooks, and don’t take too much wall space (or storage).

But I also complain a lot about the problems with viewing tiny Instagram photos on a phone. “Too small!” I’d lament. It got me thinking about making larger prints. I don’t mean crazy 16×20″ monsters that eat up ink, paper, space, and money. I was thinking maybe 8×10″ would be a nice, larger change of pace.

I can only enlarge 35mm negatives in my current darkroom, meaning that for anything larger than that, I need to print digitally. So, I made a few (digital) prints on 8×10″ Canon photo paper with my 10-year-old Canon Pixma Pro-100 printer.

The prints look fine, but they don’t feel good. They feel flimsy and cheap. It bugs me. I almost never mount and frame my prints, so I prefer something meatier. Something that handles better. You know, like a proper silver gelatin print on fiber paper. But, as I mentioned, my darkroom can’t do anything other than 35mm. Besides, making fiber darkroom prints is a ton of work, and reserved for only special images.

I want to print the more mundane stuff, too, but I don’t want the prints to feel cheap, so I bought some Canson Infinity Platine Fibre Rag Paper. Wow, what a difference good ink jet photo paper makes.

Digital print on 8.5×11″ Canson Platine paper

I installed the ICC profile from Canson for my printer and made a few test prints out of Lightroom. I really like them. Instead of going full-bleed borderless, I added a giant border on all four sides and added a narrow black border around the image itself. It may be a little gimmicky, but I think they look great and the border makes them easy to handle as well.

The actual image area ends up being only about twice the size of the 5×7″ prints, but bigger is better, and this is a good compromise between size, convenience, and cost.

Now to figure out how to make decent color prints