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Thread: Printing General Question

  1. #1

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    Printing General Question

    I finally had some prints made - just 4 X 6 but I wanted to see how they transferred to paper without any special instructions.

    Most but not all of them were much much darker on paper than on screen especially shadow areas, and my snow that I thought was so white this year was grey or blue, so I think I need to change my workflow for shots that I want to print.

    The question is: should I try to lighten things up on screen OR do I try to get things the way I like on screen and then get the printers to make adjustments?
    Please don't get too technical for now. I know there is a lot involved, but I need to take little steps and eventually get to the point where I anything I have saved would be ready for printing.

    Wendy

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    Re: Printing General Question

    It all depends . . .

    I think you are getting your prints from a printing firm instead of printing them yourself; is this correct, or have I misunderstood another question?

    If so how good are the printers? I always print myself instead of risking a local third rate printer which automatically 'enhances' photos. And what make of paper are they using. Some cheap papers give very poor results.

    How are you sending your files to the printers and what format/resolution are you using? For instance switching from Adobe RGB to standard RGB can make considerable differences. Are you having to make size/resolution changes to conform to the printer's requirements?

    How good is your monitor? Although most of your photos here look good so I doubt this is a major factor here. But a sample image may prove this either way.

    Trying to tell a printer exactly what you want can be a bit difficult for you to both understand clearly.

    My first thoughts are to try a different printer or, preferably, print them yourself so you are fully in charge of the whole process.

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    Re: Printing General Question

    There are a couple of things to consider here. I'm assuming you had the prints made at a shop.

    The shops found in the chain stores are not usually of the best quality. They generally don't do the daily or twice-daily callibration of their machines required to keep the prints up to specifications. Every print shop will produce subtle differences in the look of the prints they produce. I sampled shops by submitting two jobs of the same photographs, one marked "Do not adjust"

    I second the notion of having your monitor properly adjusted and viewing it at the proper angle for color rendition. Quick and dirty is to get a color sample chart from the local paint shop, taking a picture of it and using it to adjust your screen. More complicated (and more accruate) methods can be found on CiC, as well as other sites.

    I sampled a number of shops and have found two that match my eye. One is www.adoramapix.com and the other is the local photography shop. I had to work with the technician (owner) of the local shop to start getting what I wanted from the files I submitted. Adorama hits it straight up almost every time. If I want a particular look, I tell Adorama to not adjust my print. This is usually when I have a sunset that wants the foreground dark.

    I want prints made with the real silver halide process, so that limits some shops and eliminates home printing.

    Pops

  4. #4

    Re: Printing General Question

    Hi Wendy

    Try this set your monitor to display a white screen hold a sheet a of white A4 paper next to your monitor if your monitor is brighter than the paper turn down the monitor brightness until it matches the A4 paper your screen will look dark to you. Now open one of the photos you had printed in your normal PP software and compare the printed photo to the photo on the monitor screen
    If the two photos are about the same brightness. Then the original brightness setting of you monitor where to high. Try editing a photo with this new monitor brightness setting and having it printed. How does this photo compare to your monitor. Most people set their monitors brighter than they should; this is an effect of using the new type bright hi definition monitors the manufacturers are producing. If they then send photos out for printing the photos will look darker than expected. The better print shops know about this problem and compensate for it before printing, the best printers supply colour (color) profiles and advise on luminance values allowing you to do all the editing your self with no adjustments to the files you send to them or if you prefer to tell them the luminance value of your monitor and they will compensate.

    Now we come to my favourite rant if you set your monitor for optimal print then your forum post will look over exposed to most people and if set for posting your prints will look dark. Why is there not a quick switch button to toggle between print luminance and post luminance. Rant over!

    John

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    Re: Printing General Question

    Thanks Geoff, Pops and John. Lots of info here to get me started and lots of questions to ask before I get the next batch printed. I'm pretty sure I will be able to work with the printer. I get them printed at a camera store and the owner is a professional studio photographer which may or may not mean anything, but the prints in the store look pretty good.

    John: I checked out my screen and it was way brighter than the paper. I will carry on with the rest of the experiment and see what happens. I certainly hope I don't end up having to do 2 different edits.

    Thanks again everyone, I'm sure I'll be back with more questions as this progresses

    Wendy

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    Re: Printing General Question

    Hi Wendy,

    I stumbled and bumbled around for a while until I decided to take Colin’s advice and calibrate and profile my screen. I thought it was alright but believe me it wasn’t. There are no shortcuts to getting this part right.

    I gave up getting my stuff printed by anyone. I gave one group a copy of Willy (the horse) who was almost jet black at the time. They assured me they work with photographers and colour manage every shot. Willy came back a chestnut.

    If you are serious about printing your shots read all the threads here on printing, read Sean’s recent tutorial on Proofing your images on screen, get a good quality printer and good quality paper and make sure you can download the ICC profiles that matches your screen to the printer, paper and ink.

    And yes there are two processing workflows – one for the screen and another for the printer. I am not sure where it is but Mark posted an image of a waterfall recently and made the same comment about the printed images being dark and this discussion ensued. See if you can find it or Mark might be able to refer you too it if he is reading this.

    Believe there is no short cut. You just have to go on another learning curve because you will be frustrated with the output while you keep trying to get it right just looking at the screen.

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    Re: Printing General Question

    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Ryan View Post
    I stumbled and bumbled around for a while until I decided to take Colin’s advice and calibrate and profile my screen. I thought it was alright but believe me it wasn’t. There are no shortcuts to getting this part right.
    This man gets it!

    and make sure you can download the ICC profiles that matches your screen to the printer, paper and ink.
    Or make your own ... at least that way one gets consistency.

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    Re: Printing General Question

    I had precisely the same problem, especially after doing Sean's recent tutorial. I have had 2 weeks of frustration trying to get my head around ICC profiles, color gamut, RGB, sRGB, color management, etc. etc. In the end I decided to reverse engineer the problem and devised the following empirical solution. Experts will no doubt be aghast at this solution but it works for me.
    I downloaded the Fuji test image, frontier_color57s.jpg, from http://www.colorwiki.com/wiki/Test_Images. I then printed it from Photoshop using a variety of different color profile settings until I got an end product the "looked right". I pinned this on my monitor in good light and, holding my tongue in precisely the right position, I tinkered with the screen setting buttons until the image on the monitor matched the printed product, Since that time, touch wood, provided I continue to use the Photoshop color profile that I know is satisfactory, convert the image to the profile (Image/Mode/Convert to Profile) and then print with the printer profile set to "Same as Source" I have been able to get pretty consistent colours in my prints. Hope this works for you.
    Grant

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    Re: Printing General Question

    Quote Originally Posted by mastamak View Post
    Experts will no doubt be aghast at this solution
    I'm afraid so Grant

    The best thing anyone can ever do with regards to colour management issues is to start by calibrating and profiling their monitor to a known standard (ie "go buy something like a Spyder III) ... anything else is simply a "lottery".

  10. #10
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    Re: Printing General Question

    I gave in and purchased a Spyder 3 Express a couple of months ago and it does make a big difference.

    @Wendy - if your monitor is too bright, the image will be dark when printed because you compensated for the bright monitor by making the image darker to look correct on the monitor.

    Same thing happened to me - even after calibration at first. The color calibration seems to me to be impacted by getting the brightness and contrast settings correct first. I think there are some tools in the tutorials here and elsewhere that can help set brightness and contrast levels.

    A thumbs-up to lab differences too. I'm in the US and Mpix has given me the best results so far. Too many bad results to mention.

    Good luck!

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    Re: Printing General Question

    Quote Originally Posted by mastamak View Post
    I had precisely the same problem, especially after doing Sean's recent tutorial. I have had 2 weeks of frustration trying to get my head around ICC profiles, color gamut, RGB, sRGB, color management, etc. etc. In the end I decided to reverse engineer the problem and devised the following empirical solution. Experts will no doubt be aghast at this solution but it works for me.
    I downloaded the Fuji test image, frontier_color57s.jpg, from http://www.colorwiki.com/wiki/Test_Images. I then printed it from Photoshop using a variety of different color profile settings until I got an end product the "looked right". I pinned this on my monitor in good light and, holding my tongue in precisely the right position, I tinkered with the screen setting buttons until the image on the monitor matched the printed product, Since that time, touch wood, provided I continue to use the Photoshop color profile that I know is satisfactory, convert the image to the profile (Image/Mode/Convert to Profile) and then print with the printer profile set to "Same as Source" I have been able to get pretty consistent colours in my prints. Hope this works for you.
    Grant
    Thanks Grant, I'm glad I'm not the only one who has trouble wraping my head around this. It seems the monitor calibration is the way to go, but me being me, I will try some of the other methods mentioned here, and try to work with the print shop to see if I can improve on the first batch. I really don't want the expense of my own printer and ink because I know I would start doodling around and I'd get more rejects than good ones and it would cost me a fortune. I'm also going to try another print shop. I know another place where they specialize in printing, so maybe I will get better results there.
    Thanks for the tips and my your prints all be good ones.

    Wendy

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    Re: Printing General Question

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    I'm afraid so Grant

    The best thing anyone can ever do with regards to colour management issues is to start by calibrating and profiling their monitor to a known standard (ie "go buy something like a Spyder III) ... anything else is simply a "lottery".
    Colin: This sounds like it would be the best first step on the way to printing however, I have a couple basic questions and these are based on my getting prints done at a shop


    1. I have a viewsonic 23" 1080 monitor. I'm not even sure it is capable of being calibrated. When I do the basic calibration using the program that came with the computer (windows 7) or any of the other basic calibration tools I do not seem to have the range of adjustment required in order to come close to matching the sample that was given.
    So the question is: Is it even worthwhile to try and calibrate some monitors. Many of you have the best of the best that of course can and should be set up properly, but can a Spyder calibrate lesser models.

    2. If my monitor is calibrated, will that help me if I still plan to go to a print shop, or will it only help if I plan to do my own printing. Also will I still need a file for screen viewing and one for printing.

    Sorry if these are silly questions, but I've only just started thinking about this. I knew from others that printing could cause problems but to tell you the truth I just thought they were probably being super super fussy, and that me being just a hobby photographer would be quite happy with whatever they gave me. Wrong again Wendy!!!

    Anyway - keep it pretty basic for now, but from everything I've read I think the Spyder is the starting point if it will work for my monitor, but how will it help when I take them to the print shop?

    Wendy

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    Re: Printing General Question

    I wouldn't call a Samsung syncmaster 931 a top-class monitor, but profiling it helped a lot...
    There's no reason a spyder cannot profile a lesser model of monitor, as the profiling data aren't sent to the monitor in most cases (it's a correction done in th editing software to adapt the image to the display)

    As for how it helps in the print shop:
    if your monitor is properly set up, you know that the colours coded in the image are what they should be, and are shown as such. From there, it's up to the print shop to translate the image colours you give them in a proper print, using their profiles (that's the theory at least...).

    Remco

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    Re: Printing General Question

    Quote Originally Posted by sleist View Post
    I gave in and purchased a Spyder 3 Express a couple of months ago and it does make a big difference.
    This man gets it!

    @Wendy - if your monitor is too bright, the image will be dark when printed because you compensated for the bright monitor by making the image darker to look correct on the monitor.
    It's something that sounds good in theory, but in practive it's not quite that straight-forward. In terms of highlights, most images will push the histogram all the way to the right (and in practice, to add a bit of punch, slightly beyond) ... so whatever is level 255 will be pure white on the screen, and pure white paper on the print; sure, the white paper will probably reflect less light that the monitor inside, but it's all relative, and there's no difference there.

    Where there IS a difference though is in shadows and to a degree midtones; the monitor is capable of "injecting" more intensity into these areas and thus revealing more detail.

    The best answer is still though get a puck and profile the monitor; without one, all one can do is set the black and white points (and even then most people still get it wrong) ... without one there is no effective way to adjust the response curve ... and that's what needs to happen.

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    Re: Printing General Question

    Hi Wendy,

    I'm short on time right now, so quick answer is:

    Yes - the correction is inserted into what the video card puts out, so very little adjustment is done to the monitor.

    Yes - if you're not working from a consistent base, you can't expect consistent results from any print service.

  16. #16
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    Re: Printing General Question

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    It's something that sounds good in theory, but in practive it's not quite that straight-forward.
    Colin, exactly what in this blasted hobby IS straight-forward? I'm dying to find something. ANYTHING!!!!!

    I just bought an Intuos 4 and Windows keeps uninstalling the friggin' driver! Like I didn't have enough problems trying to use a pen in the first place. And now I want to get a printer? I've apparently replaced my lens addiction with a headache addiction.

    I should have stuck to crayons.

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    Re: Printing General Question

    Quote Originally Posted by sleist View Post
    Colin, exactly what in this blasted hobby IS straight-forward? I'm dying to find something. ANYTHING!!!!!
    Nothing I can immediately think of!

    I just bought an Intuos 4 and Windows keeps uninstalling the friggin' driver! Like I didn't have enough problems trying to use a pen in the first place. And now I want to get a printer? I've apparently replaced my lens addiction with a headache addiction.
    Sucks to be you (mine works perfectly!) (although I did have to reinstall the software once).

  18. #18
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    Re: Printing General Question

    Quote Originally Posted by ScoutR View Post
    Colin: This sounds like it would be the best first step on the way to printing however, I have a couple basic questions and these are based on my getting prints done at a shop


    1. I have a viewsonic 23" 1080 monitor. I'm not even sure it is capable of being calibrated. When I do the basic calibration using the program that came with the computer (windows 7) or any of the other basic calibration tools I do not seem to have the range of adjustment required in order to come close to matching the sample that was given.
    So the question is: Is it even worthwhile to try and calibrate some monitors. Many of you have the best of the best that of course can and should be set up properly, but can a Spyder calibrate lesser models.

    2. If my monitor is calibrated, will that help me if I still plan to go to a print shop, or will it only help if I plan to do my own printing. Also will I still need a file for screen viewing and one for printing.

    Sorry if these are silly questions, but I've only just started thinking about this. I knew from others that printing could cause problems but to tell you the truth I just thought they were probably being super super fussy, and that me being just a hobby photographer would be quite happy with whatever they gave me. Wrong again Wendy!!!

    Anyway - keep it pretty basic for now, but from everything I've read I think the Spyder is the starting point if it will work for my monitor, but how will it help when I take them to the print shop?

    Wendy
    Hi Wendy,

    First calibrate your monitor and this is a hardware thing – i.e. you can do it using your monitor settings and this web site test sheet - http://www.photofriday.com/calibrate.php

    Then buy Spder 111 and profile your monitor – this is the software bit.

  19. #19

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    Re: Printing General Question

    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Ryan View Post
    Hi Wendy,

    First calibrate your monitor and this is a hardware thing – i.e. you can do it using your monitor settings and this web site test sheet - http://www.photofriday.com/calibrate.php
    OK, I've done this with various tools.

    Then buy Spder 111 and profile your monitor – this is the software bit.
    Ahhh! thanks for the clarification, I was mixing up calibration and profiling, thinking they were the same thing actually. I will check into the Spyder - there are so many things on the list that I would like more (a studio light for instance), but I guess if I want to get prints this might be the best investment.

    Wendy

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    Re: Printing General Question

    Quote Originally Posted by ScoutR View Post
    there are so many things on the list that I would like more (a studio light for instance), but I guess if I want to get prints this might be the best investment.
    Surely you mean studio lights? (as in plural). Seriously, plan on starting with AT LEAST 2, if not 3. You'll need 1 for key, 1 for background (I use 2 for this normally to get even lighting), and another for fill and/or hair.

    Sometimes I'm using 5 AND a couple of reflectors!

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