How does professional photo printing work?

Printing a photograph onto chemically sensitized paper is the final step in the process of displaying a photograph. An enlarger or digital exposure devices like a LightJet or Minilab printer projects negative, positive transparency, or digital image file onto the paper. To make a contact print, the professional photo printing labs iowa place a negative or transparency directly on top of the paper and expose it. There is no such thing as “photographic printing” when digital photos are printed a regular printer paper. 

Both the means by which the image is transferred and the nature of the image carrier used to set the five basic printing techniques apart. The printed picture is either directly or indirectly transmitted to the substrate, depending on the method used. Gravure, flexography, screen printing, and letterpress are all types of direct printing, in which the image is transmitted directly from the image carrier to the substrate. In indirect printing, also known as offset printing, the image is passed from the image carrier to the blanket cylinder and finally to the substrate. The current industry standard, lithography, uses an indirect (offset) printing process.

There are four main stages to this process, all of which can be accomplished in a conventional photography darkroom or by use of a modern automated photo printing machine. The following procedures is followed by professional photo printing labs iowa :

  • Use of a contact printer or enlarger to expose the picture onto the sensitized paper;
  • The chemical technique used to reveal the hidden image is as follows:
  • When the exposed image is developed, the silver halide in the latent image is converted to silver;
  • Neutralizing, diluting, or eliminating the substances responsible for development;
  • Cleaning the print properly to eliminate processing chemicals will prevent the final product from deteriorating or fading over time.

For added peace of mind that the fixer has been completely washed off the print, a hypo cleaning agent can be applied after fixing. After printing, prints can be colored either with chemicals or by hand.