From Screen to Wall: The Ultimate Guide to Printing Your Photography with Saal Digital

As photographers moved from film to digital photography, they gained a new flexibility that changed the entire process. However, what was lost in that transition was a need for a more tangible connection to images that only a printed photo can provide.

Full disclosure: This sponsored article is brought to you by Saal Digital.

I have only printed a small fraction of the hundreds of thousands of images I’ve shot since I got my first professional-grade digital camera (the Nikon D1). The lack of physical output isn’t confined to the 4×6 or 5×7 prints from a lab with a developed roll of film. I also have made fewer wall-sized prints of my digital work than my film work.

I’ve always owned a high-end photo printer, and there are some shots I’ve hung on my wall, but often, the experience of making wall-hanging prints is cumbersome, and the results aren’t great. Unless I had a print framed professionally, the paper would sag over time, distorting the images.

The better option, and the one I turn to when I want to hang something on a wall or provide something for a client, is to turn to one of the expert photo services, where I can rely on their expertise to produce the best possible images.

Saal Digital is a high-quality print provider that prides itself on its output and is ”working to develop our products further to achieve higher standards and meet our customers’ needs.” SAAL Digital offered to create prints from some of my work so I could share the results. While they sponsored this post, they had no say over what I could write.

I picked four types of print: a metal print, a brushed metal print, a gallery print in a matte finish, and a Fine Art print using Hahnemuhle Baryta.

Saal Digital offers many other photographic solutions, including photo books, albums, gift boxes, cards, calendars, and more. Still, to me, the proof of a printmaker’s quality is large-format output.

With these four different print styles, I selected images I wanted to hang that would benefit from the characteristics of the media.

I selected a long exposure night shot in Joshua Tree under a full moon for the aluminum metal print. The lodge I was staying at had a western-themed location set designed for weddings and events to use as a backdrop. I’ve always wanted to have this on my wall, but most media can’t capture the shimmering skies of the long exposure, and most prints I’ve made lose all details in the shadow.

The matt-finished HD gallery print was used for a high-detail photograph my son took while we were on a photo trip to Brazil. A shot of a cayman (it’s like a small alligator but lower on the chain of predators, a favorite meal of jaguars) had incredible detail in the eye of the reptile. The cayman had startled us when our boat pulled to shore so someone could photograph a bird, we noticed the cayman sitting just inches from the side of the hull.

At such a large size, the print would be a good test of the detail of the aluminum print, and I figured the matte finish would make the image look more lifelike since a glossy coating would give a shine to the creature it didn’t have in real life.

One of my favorite images is a shot of a snow monkey at the Central Park Zoo while testing a super-telephoto lens. The image was shot as dusk approached, and the background dropped into darkness. The expression on the monkey’s face was so human that it became one of my favorite portrait shots.

Finally, for the fine art framed poster, I picked a macro shot of a bee that has a nice mix of background bokeh and foreground sharpness. Since I’m familiar with Baryta paper, I had specific expectations for the results and wanted to see how it matched similar prints I’ve made on the same paper.

The process of selecting the materials and uploading the images is straightforward. Pick a style and size, and use their online tool to upload the photo. Many online photo output houses have complex and unnecessarily cumbersome tools, but Saal Digital’s site is straightforward.

My order was placed on December 6th and arrived on the 13th, which is no small feat considering how large the prints were. The largest print was the Cayman, measuring 30×40, and the smallest was the 12×18 fine art print, so I was interested in seeing how the variety of print sizes were packed.

Saal Digital ships via DHL, and the box arrived with a bit of a crumpled edge (thanks, DHL!) I was worried about the contents, but Saal Digital had the prints packed incredibly well-protected, and nothing was damaged.

The prints are exceptional. My favorite is the shot from Joshua Tree, as it’s a print of an image I’ve always loved but have not been able to produce well on my photo printer. The metal surface is exceptional, bringing out each star hanging in the sky, especially when light hits the print. Color is vibrant in the output, which is exactly what I saw in real life, and it has quickly become my favorite wall art.

The Cayman photo maintained all the detail in the original shot, right down to the astounding detail in the eye of the Cayman. In the original image, it’s possible to see the silhouettes of people on the boat, including my son, holding the camera while taking the photo. The print captures that perfectly, and you can see every blade of grass, every detail on the cayman.

The snow monkey photo came out exactly as I intended, with a smooth black background and a sharpness in the eyes that made the monkey look even more human. (Or, shows how monkey-like we are.) The saturated colors on the face of the animal pop without overpowering the rest of the image.

Finally, there’s the fine art print of the bee on flowers. While I’ve printed on Baryta paper, I haven’t had results as good as this print. I’ve hung it near some hyper-macro shots of flowers I’ve done, and it looks beautiful on the wall.

I ordered each of the prints with the aluminum subframe, which gives the prints a very stable backing and allows for easier hanging. The hardest part of hanging the prints was finding my picture hanging wire buried in a drawer in my basement.

Unlike when I self-print artwork, the prints from Saal Digital are flawless, and the metal prints seem likely to outlive me.

The process was seamless, and the quality was excellent. I’ll use these images to show off print examples to my clients.

The full range of Saal Digital’s photo offerings can be found on their site, and their online design toolkit allows the creation of photo products directly on their website, which is particularly helpful when creating photo gifts and self-promotional tools like calendars.

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Full disclosure: This sponsored article was brought to you by Saal Digital.