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Author Topic: Photographing artwork -- paper colour  (Read 1106 times)
RobinFaichney
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« on: October 22, 2012, 03:02:49 AM »
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This follows on from a discussion in Beginners Questions, in which I posted that I was having trouble colour matching a print of a painting due to the warm colour of the paper.

In particular there's a pale blue patch of sky that comes out fine on Epson Photo Quality Inkjet and other bright white papers but is a muddy colour, not at all sky-like, on Innova Natural White.

In that thread I was assured that there's nothing technically wrong (I really am a beginner), so my question here is: I know that at least one fine art printer uses the Innova paper, and I'm guessing others also use warmer or other off-white papers, so doesn't that make matching the original colours an awful pain? Wouldn't it make more sense to stick to bright white papers for art reproduction? (In fact, I don't see the point of using off-white papers for anything but monochrome or special effects.)
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Alan Goldhammer
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« Reply #1 on: October 22, 2012, 06:03:02 AM »
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Bright white papers have lots of Optical Brightening Agents (fluorescent dyes) in them that give it the brightness.  The downside is that these OBAs will chemically degrade over time and the paper will lose it's whiteness.  The degradation is variable and dependent on a lot of things.  If you are reproducing something for short term display then the OBA paper may be OK.  If you are concerned about stability, then it's not going to be the best one to use.  There has been a lot mentioned about this and you can find a lot of data at Ernst Dinkla's website and the Aardenburg website.

Alan
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elolaugesen
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« Reply #2 on: October 22, 2012, 06:23:18 AM »
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If you are copying a print then you are reproducing someone else's errors.  I have yet to see an artists painting with pure white.  Most water colour papers are not white.  If they are then they have lots of shadows in the textures of the paper.

My suggestion is that I would not choose my future papers on copying  a print but wait and see what is needed for original art.

Most art is not reproduced on photo quality paper but on mat papers.  

This is more like what artists work on.

Cheers Elo
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RobinFaichney
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« Reply #3 on: October 22, 2012, 06:48:31 AM »
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Alan: thanks, I obviously need to look into OBAs.

Elo: I'm copying paintings, not prints, sorry that wasn't clear. All of the papers I've been using, apart from one experiment, have been matte. Whether any painting has any pure white in it is not really relevant. What matters is whether it has areas of such pale colour that, when reproduced, the corresponding areas of ink are semi-transparent so the resulting colours are, for want of a better word, distorted, even though all of the fully opaque areas might match very well. This is what I'm having difficulty dealing with.
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MHMG
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« Reply #4 on: October 22, 2012, 07:21:01 AM »
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While a warm paper can kill pale blue highlights, a cool (high OBA content) paper can kill pale yellows, skin tone highlights, etc. Easiest all-around choice for accurate color repro is to work with a neutral white paper like Hahnemuhle photo rag. It has low OBA content to get the media white point to a nice neutral (under d50 lighting/profiling standard). However, no matter what paper you use, if you are going for accurate color you will want to be using a well calibrated monitor, a custom ICC profile for your printer/ink/media combination, and good softproofing capability in your image editing software. One must also pay careful attention to the print viewing environment.  Some Professional print viewing booths don't offer enough dimming capability and nominally use about 2500 lux illumination that is ideal for critical color matching tasks, but IMHO, can be too bright for typical print display conditions.  Solux Lamps are excellent, and offer one the opportunity to tune the lighting levels closer to museum gallery conditions which are typically much less than 200 lux and ideally about 3500K (Solux makes both 3500K and 5000K lamps).

Lastly, PS CS5 (and  PSCS6) handles Absolute color rendering in a much more useful way (media whitepoint is now remapped to printer profile illuminant condition before absolute rendering occurs). So, we now have opportunity to use perceptual, relative (often useful when the painting's darkest tones are still within gamut of the print paper), relative with BPC, and in some situations absolute rendering to give us the best starting point for making final color edits before output to the chosen paper.

As others will surely agree, good painting reproduction takes a lot of time and skill. All of today's digital imaging technologies and color science helps a lot, but at the end of the day, the print maker still needs to exercise a lot of discerning judgement because each painting can serve up new challenges that must be addressed on a case-by-case basis.

cheers,
Mark
http://www.aardenburg-imaging.com
« Last Edit: October 22, 2012, 05:24:52 PM by MHMG » Logged
elolaugesen
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« Reply #5 on: October 22, 2012, 09:11:11 AM »
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Sorry Robin misunderstood the wording of a your initial description "matching a print of a painting".  Previous comments from MHMG is right on... I a lot of the neutral white paper like the Photo Rag.  Mat Paper.    not glossy photo...
MHMG is right on about his last comment that each painting can serve up new challenges. Artist use weird and wonderful ways of creating paintings etc.  You never know what material they use and how they apply.  wait until you get a painting with two or three layers of different images created on top of each one as they did not like the first one.

cheers luck
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RobinFaichney
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« Reply #6 on: October 23, 2012, 04:55:19 AM »
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Thanks a lot guys, this is very valuable information for me and I appreciate the time and trouble you've taken for no reward. This is what "online community" is all about. Hope to be able to contribute likewise myself eventually, but I've a helluva lot to learn!

Meanwhile, one more question: I've been using Lightroom, but should I get Photoshop for this sort of work? For instance, using the example of a pale blue affected by a warm paper tone, can that be corrected as easily in LR as in PS? Or might PS be needed not for that but for other likely painting-copying scenarios?

(My situation: with some interest and experience in photography, a certain amount of capital, and looking for a small scale business opportunity, an artist friend suggested fine art printing, and I ran out and spent loads of money without doing as much research as I should have, but I'm now quite committed, and this will be my main occupation for the foreseeable future.)
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framah
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« Reply #7 on: October 23, 2012, 08:44:53 AM »
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For me, I find that LR has alot more "tweakability" of colors than PS does. I will move my image file over to LR whenever I need to adjust a specific color and then bring it back to PS for the final adjustments before sending it to the printer.

Good luck in your new business endeavor.
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"It took a  lifetime of suffering and personal sacrifice to develop my keen aesthetic sense."
davidh202
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« Reply #8 on: October 23, 2012, 09:02:23 PM »
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I also use ACR (Lightroom)  to tweak colors  in the HSL button, and sometimes even hand color or  tint areas that are really difficult to correctly balance, by using the adjustment brush 'color' feature and painting in needed adjustment.
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RobinFaichney
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« Reply #9 on: October 24, 2012, 04:44:23 AM »
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Thanks guys, I guess I'll get PS if and when I feel the need...
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