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Author Topic: "Dark prints" - no, really ...  (Read 5915 times)
jeremyrh
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« on: March 19, 2012, 08:48:12 AM »
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Suppose I take a photo of an "average" scene (yes, I know there isn't such a thing, but you know what I mean) with my camera set on Program mode. Then I process it in Lightroom or whatever and just again click the auto levels buttons without regard to what I see on the screen.

Then I make a print. Maybe I use the ICC profile for my printer that I got from the paper manufacturer, or maybe I let the printer manage the colours.

Would I then expect to see a "reasonable" print, by which I mean one that doesn't look "dark", or with bizarre colour casts?

I am just thinking that this workflow (if you want to dignify it with the name) eliminates subjective judgements and screen calibration issues ...
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Randy Carone
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« Reply #1 on: March 19, 2012, 09:05:44 AM »
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If you are using an Epson printer, it applies the ICC profile for the Media Type you have chosen in the Epson Driver when you choose Printer Manages Color. When using third party papers, the choice of Printer Manages Color will only apply Epson profiles, so this may not be a good choice for those papers.

Why would you ignore what is on your screen? If your monitor is not calibrated, at least you may be able to tell what direction your printer will print (darker or lighter) from what you see on the screen so you can use it as a 'guide' to see how to adjust the print so it will come our reasonable well without multiple 'attempts' to get it where your happy with the result. Does this make sense? It seems to be an approach that fits the 'lazy workflow'. Smiley
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Randy Carone
jeremyrh
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« Reply #2 on: March 19, 2012, 09:10:32 AM »
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I was just considering the case when someone says "My prints are too dark - is my printer broken?", and people respond by saying that the photo must be underexposed, screen not calibrated, etc etc etc.  It seems that my "lazy workflow", while not yielding the perfect print, should deliver something that is "OK-ish". If it doesn't, then is it legitimate for the puzzled user to wonder if his printer is malfunctioning, or mal-adjusted in some way?
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mac_paolo
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« Reply #3 on: March 19, 2012, 09:26:59 AM »
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Suppose I take a photo of an "average" scene (yes, I know there isn't such a thing, but you know what I mean) with my camera set on Program mode. Then I process it in Lightroom or whatever and just again click the auto levels buttons without regard to what I see on the screen.
I often get dark tones when using auto levels. I used to click it just for the black/white point expansion. Now it's quite different, but the darkening behaviour is there.
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Randy Carone
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« Reply #4 on: March 19, 2012, 09:36:11 AM »
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jeremy,

I hesitate to go down the 'too dark' route yet again. If a print comes out too dark - happened to me yesterday - it needs to be adjusted and reprinted to come out right. Simple. No other answer.
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Randy Carone
Nigel Johnson
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« Reply #5 on: March 19, 2012, 09:41:32 AM »
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I was just considering the case when someone says "My prints are too dark - is my printer broken?", and people respond by saying that the photo must be underexposed, screen not calibrated, etc etc etc.  It seems that my "lazy workflow", while not yielding the perfect print, should deliver something that is "OK-ish". If it doesn't, then is it legitimate for the puzzled user to wonder if his printer is malfunctioning, or mal-adjusted in some way?
Jeremy

Whilst theoretically your method might work there are many places that it might go wrong. Using a camera produced JPEG would remove some of the potential problems with the auto function in Lightroom, etc. However, the best solution would be to us a known good image such as those available on the following page http://www.northlight-images.co.uk/article_pages/test_images.html, which also discusses what should be looked for in the prints.

Regards
Nigel
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digitaldog
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« Reply #6 on: March 19, 2012, 10:03:14 AM »
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I was just considering the case when someone says "My prints are too dark - is my printer broken?", and people respond by saying that the photo must be underexposed, screen not calibrated, etc etc etc.  

Is the print too dark, is the data to dark? You can have one without the other. The more variables that are not controlled, the more stuff that can cause a poor print that may have something or nothing to do with the print part of the process.
« Last Edit: March 19, 2012, 01:57:10 PM by digitaldog » Logged

Andrew Rodney
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Mark D Segal
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« Reply #7 on: March 19, 2012, 10:13:41 AM »
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Andrew - you mean variables.

Jeremyrh - you are essentially describing a crap-shoot, and if you shoot-crap, well don't be surprised if you end up with...........  :-). OK seriously, I see where you are coming from, but NO - I have never really found these automated processes reliable, but it all depends on your standards.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
Author: "Scanning Workflows with SilverFast 8....." http://www.luminous-landscape.com/reviews/film/scanning_workflows_with_silverfast_8.shtml
MHMG
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« Reply #8 on: March 19, 2012, 01:07:27 PM »
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Yes, Nigel pointed you in a good direction. Also, if you really want to understand tone reproduction from scene-to-recorded image file-to-monitor-to- print, then the Macbeth ColorChecker chart is a tried-and-true evaluation tool.

http://www.amazon.com/s/?ie=UTF8&keywords=macbeth+color+checker&tag=googhydr-20&index=aps&hvadid=4383142785&hvpos=1t1&hvexid=&hvnetw=g&hvrand=16752531332049964622&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=b&ref=pd_sl_8zrye65on2_b

The target has well known and documented color values (see http://www.babelcolor.com/main_level/ColorChecker.htm ). You can compare these known values to what the PS info tool tells you has been recorded in your image file (this exercise will immediately rule problems with exposure and monitor calibration in or out of the subsequent print reproduction task).  The third darkest gray patch has a L* value = 51, i.e., the same as an 18% reflectance gray card and also just about "middle gray" in the LAB color model as well. You can put the ColorChecker target in your print viewing area and compare it to any reproduction. One thing you will soon learn is that most camera vendors add a contrast boost to pop color and contrast in the recorded image. But other than that, you can track how your total workflow is able to reproduce this very well known color target. BTW, Xrite also uses the famous 24 patch ColorChecker values in it's Xrite "Passport" camera profiling tool (http://xritephoto.com/ph_product_overview.aspx?ID=1257)

Note: I have no commercial ties or interests to any of the links I cited. They are just there to provide some additional context for how universal this target has become over three decades in tracking down camera exposure and reproduction issues.

cheers,
Mark
http://www.aardenburg-imaging.com
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pfigen
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« Reply #9 on: March 19, 2012, 05:26:02 PM »
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"It seems that my "lazy workflow", while not yielding the perfect print, should deliver something that is "OK-ish". If it doesn't, then is it legitimate for the puzzled user to wonder if his printer is malfunctioning, or mal-adjusted in some way?"

In order to determine if your printer is at fault you have to start out with known and controllable variables. Your proposed method does neither, thereby leaving you with no way of knowing where the problem, if any, might lie. In fact, in your scenario, you could end up with perfect looking prints and still have your system be off, leaving you even more confused than ever when other images print not as expected.
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MOMOP
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« Reply #10 on: March 19, 2012, 06:10:58 PM »
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In my experience, one of the most useful (and simple) things one can do to avoid dark prints is to calibrate your monitor with your target luminance set at 100 cd/m2 (candela per meter-squared).  It gets you very close.

P.
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digitaldog
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« Reply #11 on: March 19, 2012, 06:15:29 PM »
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In my experience, one of the most useful (and simple) things one can do to avoid dark prints is to calibrate your monitor with your target luminance set at 100 cd/m2 (candela per meter-squared).  It gets you very close.

Unless you are using a viewing booth or viewing condition (such as my GTI box) which would be a mile off with such a low (and sometimes difficult) luminance to hit. I’m at 150cd/m2. Until you define the print viewing conditions, it really is impossible to define the proper luminance. YMMV.
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Andrew Rodney
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chichornio
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« Reply #12 on: March 19, 2012, 06:27:11 PM »
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Here´s my personal experiencie: Because I cannot afford a very expensive LCD monitor and don´t have enough space to install a viewing booth, what I´ve found a second hand CRT Barco Personal Calibrator in very good condition, and I set the white level down to 75cd/m2. Because my working conditions are very low-light, I´d never had a problem having dark prints. The Barco it´s very stable, calibrate itself and keep my room warm in winter.
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Tony Jay
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« Reply #13 on: March 19, 2012, 07:13:05 PM »
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The original post seems to betray a fundamental misunsderstanding of digital workflow.

It also seems very similar to a thread that was recently locked...

There is no "automating" digital workflow in the fashion suggested and then expecting anything like a reasonable result.

Regards

Tony Jay
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Wayne Fox
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« Reply #14 on: March 19, 2012, 07:15:23 PM »
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Suppose I take a photo of an "average" scene (yes, I know there isn't such a thing, but you know what I mean) with my camera set on Program mode. Then I process it in Lightroom or whatever and just again click the auto levels buttons without regard to what I see on the screen.

...

I am just thinking that this workflow (if you want to dignify it with the name) eliminates subjective judgements and screen calibration issues ...
There's some contradiction in this line of thinking.  First, I don't think you can ever take subjective judgements out of the process ... cameras don't see the world like a human.

And if you let the camera/software/printer make all the decisions, that simply removes your subjective judgement and instead uses code by engineers who create a generic attempt to arrive at an acceptable print through some hopefully logical process that certainly can't account for every situation encountered.  But the implication that it would be more accurate or in some way better is a really a misguided perception, in might be simpler, and indeed may yield an OK result some of the time, but this really means you are in the same place as the majority of those who own cameras and just point and shoot.  Getting from capture to an ideal print is the part of the craft that separates non-photographers with good equipment from those who are good or great photographers, regardless of equipment.
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Slobodan Blagojevic
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« Reply #15 on: March 19, 2012, 07:29:16 PM »
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... Would I then expect to see a "reasonable" print, by which I mean one that doesn't look "dark", or with bizarre colour casts?...

Yes, plain and simple.

Forget all that high-horse expert speak if your standard is "reasonable" and "OK-ish". If however, you want to move beyond "OK-ish" toward mastery and perfection, then, by all means, reread and follow all that is said in this thread and beyond.
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« Reply #16 on: March 19, 2012, 08:55:50 PM »
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I think everyone is going way too far answering the OP. he is asking a very basic simple question.
  He's asking is will you get a reasonable print, and I say yes he will.
Not a museum quality masterpiece, not a gallery worthy saleable print...  a print that he   could appreciate and enjoy...quite possibly!.
All depends on his definition of "acceptable" ;-)

"beauty is in the eye of the beholder"

David
well, that's all fine and good, but then he threw in the last statement.  Thus the answer isn't that simple.
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jeremyrh
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« Reply #17 on: March 20, 2012, 02:52:28 AM »
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However, the best solution would be to us a known good image such as those available on the following page http://www.northlight-images.co.uk/article_pages/test_images.html, which also discusses what should be looked for in the prints.

You're right - that's a better idea :-) Thanks.
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jeremyrh
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« Reply #18 on: March 20, 2012, 03:01:02 AM »
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I think everyone is going way too far answering the OP. he is asking a very basic simple question.
  He's asking is will you get a reasonable print, and I say yes he will.
Not a museum quality masterpiece, not a gallery worthy saleable print...  a print that he   could appreciate and enjoy...quite possibly!.
All depends on his definition of "acceptable" ;-)

"beauty is in the eye of the beholder"

David
Yes, thanks for spotting that. And to clarify - I am not proposing this "workflow" as something to do for preference, just something to do if I suspect that my printer is out of whack, or my viewing conditions inadequate, or whatever. A lot of the discussion in THAT OTHER THREAD ended up being about how the OP had taken his photos, calibrated his monitor etc. I was just wondering what might be a good way to eliminate those sources of uncertainty. Now I see that using a standard test file is a better idea ...
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Nora_nor
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« Reply #19 on: April 03, 2012, 08:41:04 AM »
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hi I am new here, but have read the forum here for ages.
I read all the prints too dark threads and webpages.
I wonder if something happened with the latest apple Epson printer driver updates now in march, as I printed a lot of files for an exhibition on a different 4900 in February from Lightroom and they were perfect.

Problem: another Epson 4900printer, Mac os Lion, Epson Premium Luster professional 260 roll paper 16 in, dark prints, please do not throw rocks at me-

Epson and Apple, one of them or both, want to print photos, including the test files I can find on the internet, a bit dark:

When I soft proof on macbook air or macbook pro (I know I should use a better display) and use the printer and paper profile (have not tried to get printer to manage colours), the proof preview shows greyish and darkish picture, I guess after choosing to desaturate colour density by 10%, and that matches the prints....
I tried Lightroom 3 and the prints are equally dark

Now that causes a lot of hassle in order to brighten the files before printing.

Did something happen with the updates?
(before I uninstall the Epson drivers and re-install them)

and is it right to choose Epson and premium luster 260 in the printer dialogue, or should it show no colour management? Could not find an option.

--right now I managed to get kinda acceptable prints by desaturating colour intensity by 10% in the paper handling dialogue, but the colours are a little bit tame of course. Prints kinda look like there is a slight grey cast all over them, and the print preview and the soft proof look just like that. (using a test files, the colour ones, from http://www.northlight-images.co.uk/downloadable_1/DL_page.html

is it the gamma thing?
http://www.epson.co.uk/Printers-and-All-In-Ones/Large-Format/Epson-Stylus-Pro-4900/Drivers-Support?target=article&extn=.html&articleId=3989
could not find a place to try to change gamma.

Is it the cups issue due to the recent update?
http://www.luminous-landscape.com/forum/index.php?topic=64191.0

double icc profiles?
http://www.tracyvalleau.com/blog/?p=14

Updated:
I googled some more, and maybe I am getting closer, I had two versions of the printer driver. I deleted the first one that had less items in the folder.
http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1003&message=31085537 and additionally there were no Epson icc profiles in the color sync folder, just the HPZ2100. (that is probably why the HP Z2100 shows up by default in Lightroom...)
Maybe I can copy and paste the icc profiles into the color sync folder, maybe not. Will try re-start also.
« Last Edit: April 03, 2012, 12:17:41 PM by Nora_nor » Logged
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