One of the Lightroom Print module’s strengths is the ease with which you can adjust the print margins so that you can place the image pretty much anywhere on a page that you like. Like most everything else in Lightroom, all it takes is dragging sliders while you watch until you like what you see. I’ve found this an invaluable aid in making very classy-looking hard-cover perfect-bound books that can be turned into portfolios, event albums, scrapbooks, and…best of all…very high-priced art books.
It’s always been possible to make prints and then send them to a book-binding company, but that may be a little beyond your budget. I’ve been wanting to do that for the many models for whom I take composite and portfolio pictures. Not to mention simply wanting a more elegant but affordable way to print my own images. So I was thrilled when, in the course of doing some research on an upcoming O’Reilly book, I came across a cool gadget called Photo Book Creator (www.myphotobookcreator.com). It’s a “make your own photo book” kit that sells for just over $100, complete with a sample of a book cover and software that helps you layout and make the book. You get the binding machine, a sample cover, and layout software. These binders will hold only ten to forty (depending on thickness) pages of photo-quality inkjet paper, but if you buy double-sided paper, you can have twenty pages. You can also print multiple images per-page, so you could easily show off 30 or more images in a single book. All it takes to make a book is to print the pages, drop them into the slot in the binder cover and set the binder into the binding machine for about 90 seconds (see the image below). When you set the binder into the machine, it automatically turns on and heats the glue in the binding. Thirty seconds later, the binder turns off and you let it cool for a minute. Now you have a book. It’s even easier than sliding prints into portfolio sleeves.
Now you’re going to ask, “Why is this piece in the Lightroom Blog? This machine comes with its own layout and printing software. Yes, it does, and it’s nice software, too. But I’m already sorting, choosing, processing, and organizing the photos in Lightroom. The Print Module also does a very nice job of page layout…and you’re already working in Lightroom. The rest of this blog tells you how to do that.
If you’re going to use Lightroom for printing these pages, be sure to layout and print all the right-side pages first (including the first page), then print all the left-faceing pages on the backside of the right facing pages.
It’s not usually all that great to just bleed-print each page, but that’s one way you can do it. If you do, you’ll have to crop the images exactly so that they fit each page. Also, remember that the photo on the first page is going to be peering through the window on the front cover. So you’re going to want to measure the front cover and where the window falls on the page. Then you can either place the image on the page so that it’s sized and cropped to fit right into the window or you can just size and crop the image so that the portion that appears through the window is an interesting shot in itself. To give you an idea of how this looks, I’ve shown a photo positioned on a layer below a semi-transparent layer with a hole (window) in the same position where the window will appear on the cover. To do this from Lightroom, I Right Click to open the picture in Photoshop. I make a New Layer above the photo, fill it with black, reduce the opacity to 50% so that I can see the photo through it. Then I turn on the Photoshop grid so that I can see how to center the window and drag a rectangle to the exact size and proportions of the hardcover window and press Delete. This cuts a hole in the black layer that reveals the photo below. It’s easy to reposition the photo on the layer below so the window crops it exactly the way you want. You can see the result below. When I’ve got it looking exactly the way I want it, I just save the image and go back to Lightroom. I then go to the Develop module and do any necessary cropping, then go to the print module and print it. This becomes my first, right hand page.
Now it’s time to layout and arrange the photos for the rest of the pages in the book.
These books are available in either square or horizontal (landscape) formats. I’m more inclined toward the landscape format, since they come in standard paper sizes that I don’t have to take the time to trim. Since I’m generally using them to produce model’s portfolios, where most of the images are composed in a portrait format, I have to be creative about where the images will fit on a page. First, if there’s only one image on a page, it’s going to present itself more advantageously if the images are positioned so they’re closest to the outside border.
I really like using Lightroom for this job because it makes it very quick to layout and print the book right after you’ve organized the order in which photos are going to be printed in the Library Grid mode. I then select all the right hand images and drag them to the top of the grid. I then go to the Print module and layout and print each image separately so that I can place them on the page the way I want them to appear.
I used the Identity Plate plaque in Custom Text mode to put the model’s name on each page. I also use Custom Text to put my own name as the photographer on as many pages as possible. The “as possible” part becomes impractical when there are multiple photos on a page–unless you’re putting together a portfolio that shows the work of multiple photographers.
Once I’ve printed out all the images, I double-check to make sure that they’re in the order in which they need to be in the book, drop them into the hard-cover’s binder, and drop the binder into the V-shaped machine.
Covers come in 12″ square, 8-inch square, 8.5 X 11-inch landscape, and 5 X 7 landscape. You get a package of 10 landscape covers for about $85. Other sizes are pretty close to the same price. To figure your costs, you’ll also have to add the cost of printing paper. You can order them through www.scrapdish.com.