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Author Topic: Prints coming out darker than shown on screen  (Read 2283 times)
rgvsdigitalpimp
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« on: December 17, 2012, 12:50:36 PM »
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Hey guys!  Quick question.  I just started using LexJet Bright White Sunset Reserve canvas.  Switched over from BC's Lyve.  I installed the printer profile and plugin for Photoshop correctly so it's printing using the profile that Lexjet sent me.  I've been noticing that my prints are coming out a darker tone then what I see on the screen.  I don't think I had this issue before with BC's Lyve profile.  Can I use the profile for Lyve with Lexjet's canvas?  Attached is an example of what I mean.  The left side of the image is the image I see on the screen and the one on the right is a picture of the printed result.  What else can be causing this problem?  

* I don't know why it won't let me upload the image I'm trying to attach if it's only 2MB big.  Let me get a link online to the image

**Here's the link to the photo
http://www.flickr.com/photos/77250992@N02/8281012149/
« Last Edit: December 17, 2012, 12:55:59 PM by rgvsdigitalpimp » Logged
kdphotography
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« Reply #1 on: December 17, 2012, 12:57:51 PM »
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You really need to use the proper icc profile that was generated for that particular media.  ICC profiles are generally not interchangeable.  Canvas and other media have their own particular individual traits and profiles are generated to more accurately reproduce images on that particular media.  If you want a more accurate profile, BC will produce a custom icc profile for your printer for their media products, including Lyve.

That's the first start.  If your prints are still "dark" then there may be other issues involved such as monitor calibration and brightness....

ken
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rgvsdigitalpimp
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« Reply #2 on: December 17, 2012, 01:11:35 PM »
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Thanks Ken.  So should i adjust my monitor's brightness and contrast settings to match the darker print?  That way I'll know exactly how it's going to print?  I just don't remember ever having this problem with BC's Lyve canvas and profile

I just went through my archive and noticed that I had printed this same image a couple months ago using BC's Lyve canvas and ICC profile.  What a world of a difference.  I hope LexJet can help me solve this problem or I'll have to revert back to Lyve. 
« Last Edit: December 17, 2012, 01:59:54 PM by rgvsdigitalpimp » Logged
bill t.
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« Reply #3 on: December 17, 2012, 03:05:27 PM »
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Lyve produces just about the punchiest image you can get from a matte canvas.  I have worked with both Lyve and Sunset Select, and in every case would expect Sunset to be less snappy, though sometimes in a good way that favors subtlety.  Lex's site states the Sunset Reserve is "less bright" than Sunset Select, make what you will of that.

And not every manufacturer's profile is a winner.  In the past BC had some pretty bad ones up for download, but that has changed.  For fun, go to iccview.de and compare the Lyve profile you have been using with the one you have for Sunset Select.  It's easy to do, and very informative.

Also, go ahead and try a print on Reserve with your Lyve profile.  You will be a naughty boy, but you might like the results.  Small test strips are advised.

If you want killer, in-your-face canvas prints, try Epson Canvas Gloss or BC Crystalline.
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rgvsdigitalpimp
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« Reply #4 on: December 17, 2012, 06:42:16 PM »
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Thanks for the info, Bill.  I tried printing small version of the picture I posted above using BC's profile and same result.  I guess there was a reason BC's Lyve is $100 more expensive than the LexJet canvas.  And I got a lot of orders for the holidays.  Bummer  Embarrassed
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bill t.
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« Reply #5 on: December 17, 2012, 10:42:17 PM »
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If you have to go ahead with what you have, turn on the soft proofing in PS or LR and start stretching out those histograms to the left and right as far you can without going more than a tich out of gamut.  Milk that canvas for all it's got!  But remember than that out of gamut areas give you negative returns which will result in lower effective contrast and blank looking areas that are especially bad for skin tones.  I'm sure you know those prints will pick up some snap when you apply the coatings.  I remember Sunset Select snapped up proportionately more than Lyve from coatings, Reserve is probably the same.
« Last Edit: December 17, 2012, 10:45:04 PM by bill t. » Logged
rgvsdigitalpimp
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« Reply #6 on: December 17, 2012, 11:00:48 PM »
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For some reason the coating seems to kind of darken up darker areas of the photo's.  In bright colors it looks great.  When I show a proof of what's gonna print on the printer, it looks even lighter as if I messed with levels or brightness.  Then I print it and its darker than the original image.  Weird
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bill t.
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« Reply #7 on: December 17, 2012, 11:55:27 PM »
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It's just one of the delights of working with media with a lot less gamut than your monitor.  We could talk endlessly about viewing booths etc blah blah blah.  But the bottom line is, do what you have to do with the sliders to get a print that you like.  Worry only about not pushing the file out of gamut, not what it literally looks like on the screen.  Heresy!  BTW the correspondence between monitor and print is a lot better with wide gamut media than with low gamut media.  One of the reasons I like the wide gamut, glossy canvases.  Pretend it's 1990 and you're making Ektaprint Type C's, with the only feedback being the print itself.  Learn the art of the test strip. 
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rgvsdigitalpimp
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« Reply #8 on: December 21, 2012, 12:18:44 AM »
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Well I found a guy on Craigslist locally that was selling his used Colormunki Photo calibration kit for $200.  New to this whole calibration stuff but seems to be giving me way better results after I calibrated monitor and printer profile.  I also read on another post about duplicating final layer, screening it, and lowering opacity to add some brightness to dark areas and shadows.  Wow . . problems seem to have gone away Smiley  Thanks for all the help
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bill t.
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« Reply #9 on: December 21, 2012, 02:01:14 AM »
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To sum up the print-too-dark thing in as few words as possible, there is a tacit assumption floating around in the middle of all that technical mumbo jumbo that assumes your print will be viewed and assessed in much brighter and much better lighting conditions than most of us really have in our studios, spare bedrooms, and rumpus rooms.  And absolutely better lighting than 97.3% of our customers have illuminating the walls in their homes.  If you want your prints to look good in crummy lighting, you pretty much need to raise the dark areas quite a bit above what might look just right under a constellation of Solux bulbs.  IMHO.  But there's a difference between "raising the dark areas" and making mushy prints.  Print open, but don't print weak.  Piece of cake.  Most painters understand this, but we photographers have gotten so hung up on "printing dark" that we need to wear sunglasses to enjoy most non-photographic art museums.  I have spoken.
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MikeWhitten
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« Reply #10 on: December 21, 2012, 09:01:05 AM »
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What Bill T. said is word.

For me at least, what looks good printed and hung in most final display locations is not what looks most visually pleasing on my monitor or under my nice bright viewing lamp. I have to bring the lower tones up significantly while keeping an eye on the upper end of the histogram to avoid crunching. I sure don't have it down to a science but am developing a halting, stumbling feel for what'll work.
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Garnick
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« Reply #11 on: December 21, 2012, 01:30:41 PM »
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It's just one of the delights of working with media with a lot less gamut than your monitor.  We could talk endlessly about viewing booths etc blah blah blah.  But the bottom line is, do what you have to do with the sliders to get a print that you like.  Worry only about not pushing the file out of gamut, not what it literally looks like on the screen.  Heresy!  BTW the correspondence between monitor and print is a lot better with wide gamut media than with low gamut media.  One of the reasons I like the wide gamut, glossy canvases.  Pretend it's 1990 and you're making Ektaprint Type C's, with the only feedback being the print itself.  Learn the art of the test strip.  

As a Custom Colour Lab worker, and owner since 1968, I could not agree more with Bill's analysis of this situation.  Until 2004 I was still producing "Type C" prints along with Large Format Inkjet output.  Early 2005 I shut down my darkrooms(remember them?) and concentrated solely on digital output.  For the most part I am enjoying the "lightroom" immensely, but I often find it very frustrating trying to create a good print from a totally butchered digital file.  However, I do digress.  

Before making my first digital print I took the time to be sure I had properly calibrated my display, as well as researching and downloading good quality profiles for my Epson 7600 printer(Bill Atkinson versions).  As the years have passed I have come to the conclusion that no matter how much time and $$$ one throws at display calibration, it is after all only a reasonable facsimile of what you can expect to see in the print.  Sometimes surprisingly close, but mostly not.  Since I work with customer files from many different sources the problem usually lies in the processing of the original image file.  I have about half a dozen customers who's files look great on the display and print with only the necessary corrections as shown in soft proofing for the paper/canvas being used.  Obviously people who know and abide by the mantra that a well colour managed workflow is the essence of quality and efficiency.  A scenario that has always been the case, whether printing "Type C" or digital.

When I first started to print digitally I carried with me the same procedure I had always used with "Type C", except for the fact that I was in essence using a video analyzer instead of simply relying on my best guess as a starting point.  In both cases it always involved a test strip, 2x8"(5 up on 8.5x11 sheet) for digital.  And as Bill has said, the only thing you should really be concentrating on is the print, although of course good calibration and profiling practices are also necessary in order to produce a good first test.  As far as canvas printing is concerned I am using the BC Chromata White(Matte).  I have developed an eye for what it will look like once coated with Eco Print Shield, either Matte, Satin or Gloss finish.  But I definitely understand why Bill states his preference for gloss canvas, it can be difficult sometimes to get a true feeling for the final product.  As the man said, practice, practice, practice.  

Not sure this has been much help to you and your particular situation, but I wanted to chime in as an old foggy who has spent far to much time in the dark and is now enjoying the light.

Gary      





            
« Last Edit: December 21, 2012, 01:33:23 PM by Garnick » Logged
digitaldog
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« Reply #12 on: December 21, 2012, 02:14:41 PM »
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The quality (match) between a soft proof and a print is only as good as the calibration of the display and resulting profile AND the output profile. Keep in mind that output profiles have two sets of tables, one for soft proof, one for output. They should match but they don't always. This is what separates a quality profile from one that is not so good.

Prints are either too dark or they are not too dark. Going back to Gary's printing work in analog darkroom, I seriously doubt he printed many if any dark prints. Why is the internet filled with people having dark prints now? Couple reasons aside from the quality differences in profiles discussed. First, most people understand the need to calibrate a display but unfortunately don't see the need to alter the target calibrations from either some preset or some user recommendation. We've got a display that has a huge range of luminance possibilities (from say 120-300cd/m2 assuming you can get a new LCD to natively hit such a lower value). We have enormous variation in ambient lighting around the display and the print. Obviously if you are going to compare the two to see if you get a match, they need to be pretty much next to each other. Expecting that some setting in your display calibration software is any knowledge about the print viewing conditions isn’t' true, your mileage in terms of the settings for both display and print viewing is significant.

I can assure you that the finest print you ever saw will look dark to you if the illumination is too low (duh). So if the display is 20% visually brighter than how you view the print, what do you expect that print to look like? Darker. Proper display calibration is one where you set the targets to produce a visual match to a print next to that display and an illuminant that isn't ridiculous (a 6 watt bulb).

Let's look at print making and exclude Photoshop, Lightroom, using displays. How many out there who printed conventionally got dark prints? Did you view them properly once out of the darkroom? I expect you did and the prints that were not too dark didn't look too dark. Making a print, be it in an analog or digital darkroom isn't vastly different expect we have this display we work on and hope (expect) it to translate into a print we expect. If the two differing medias are not as close as possible, of course you'll get a mismatch. And yes, an emissive display and a reflective print will never exactly match. But if you have calibrated your display properly, there should be no 'dark prints' or surprises. The proof is in the print but the soft proof when properly setup means that print is achieved in the first, maybe 2nd print.

If the amount of time, ink and paper has no bearing, no need for color management or a color display. Just crank out prints until you get what you desire.

There is of course this:
http://www.luminous-landscape.com/tutorials/why_are_my_prints_too_dark.shtml
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Andrew Rodney
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Tim Lookingbill
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« Reply #13 on: December 21, 2012, 07:30:39 PM »
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Scroll down to "Check Monitor Brightness" on this page:

http://www.hermitage-ps.co.uk/monitor_luminance.htm

Follow the instructions for display white and do the same to a blank white sheet of the canvas media you're printing on lit under a light you'll be viewing the print (NOT FLASH). Move the blank white canvas or paper closer to the light until you get the same Av meter reading as white page on your monitor. That's the only way to compare apples to apples.

Your first image of the print posted looks more low contrast than dark looking. And your second print sample you photographed looks like you used flash which is a much brighter light source than what you used in the first low contrast print sample you're comparing to.
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bill t.
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« Reply #14 on: December 21, 2012, 10:30:51 PM »
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The problem is not how to make properly lighted photographs look good.  That's easy, I can get perfect screen/print matches matches with my perfect little proofing lights.  The problem is how to make crappily lighted prints look good.  Good lighting rewards prints where the tones are mapped up from the darkest possible tones the media can represent.   Unfortunately, when viewed in typical real world crappy lighting, those dulcet dark tones disappear into the pissy yellow 2700K CFL murk.  Spent a lot of today delivering pieces to customers ahead of Xmas.  It's always an eye opener.  Can't even count how many different kinds of crappy light I saw today. I am convinced that outside of prim little viewing booths, Solux bulbs are only widely used in Never Never Land.

The i1Profiler software needs to add a drop down item for "crappy lighting" in the Illuminant dialogue, then we would hear no more of dark prints.

PS, there's a gallery exhibit in town with some big prints on translucent media being displayed each on it's own lightbox.  This is maybe the first time I have ever seen prints that probably look exactly how they looked on the artist's monitor.  Just one word if you want total artistic control...backlighting!  It's how you monitor works.  But it's not how your opaque prints work.

Cool work though, Icelandic mountains sitting in green summer fields, not quite symmetrically mirror imaged into not quite geometric cones.  Kind of Rhine II -ish in concept.  Keeping an eye out for red dots on the tags, none so far.
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digitaldog
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« Reply #15 on: December 22, 2012, 08:33:06 AM »
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The problem is how to make crappily lighted prints look good.

Super easy, fix the lighting! I really doubt that in the 500 years the Mona Lisa has been around and viewed, anyone who examined it in a dim room with "crappy lighting" suggested it should have been painted lighter!

 
Quote
Good lighting rewards prints where the tones are mapped up from the darkest possible tones the media can represent.   Unfortunately, when viewed in typical real world crappy lighting, those dulcet dark tones disappear into the pissy yellow 2700K CFL murk.
 

And yet we don't hear the millions of people receiving all those Christmas catalogs that everything they view looks too dim. They either move into an area where they can properly view the images and text or suffer.

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The i1Profiler software needs to add a drop down item for "crappy lighting" in the Illuminant dialogue, then we would hear no more of dark prints.

I'm hoping you are suggesting this as a joke, because it shows a significant miss understanding in how ICC profiles are built. ALL output profiles assume D50 illuminant unless otherwise altered assuming the software has such provisions. The i1P software does this and in spades! You can measure the illuminant and pop that into the profile you build or you can enter CCT values etc. And this has NOTHING to do with dark prints! With this logic, the software should have a drop down called "crappy photography" or "soft image" with that mind set. Substitute i1P for Photoshop, now you might have a tool to fix some of these issues.

This is really a very easy problem to solve, you don't need to make it harder than it has to be. We humans have been printing and viewing images for a very, very long time. It didn't take us long to realize that any lighting that is too dim makes what we view, a print or text or anything else look dim! And the fix is easy.
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Andrew Rodney
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« Reply #16 on: December 22, 2012, 08:52:56 AM »
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digitaldog[/quote]
We humans have been printing and viewing images for a very, very long time. It didn't take us long to realize that any lighting that is too dim makes what we view, a print or text or anything else look dim! And the fix is easy.


In photography we use tools to measure light and color. We "know" we have correct color. Whatever that means?
Think what painters go through. Create the painting in North light and then exhibit under tungsten, if lucky. After years of experience one learns to see and judge color and the process needed to achieve one's goals.

Peter
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digitaldog
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« Reply #17 on: December 22, 2012, 09:35:44 AM »
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And never forget to take off your sun glasses when viewing prints. Sun glasses make your prints look too dark unless you know everyone in the audience wears the same sun glasses, then make all your prints lighter for those lucky people <G>.
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Andrew Rodney
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Garnick
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« Reply #18 on: December 22, 2012, 11:44:17 AM »
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Think what painters go through. Create the painting in North light and then exhibit under tungsten, if lucky. After years of experience one learns to see and judge color and the process needed to achieve one's goals.

Peter

I believe the obvious reason for using north light for painting is the "quality"(softness) of the light, definitely not the colour.  North light is shifted toward the blue end of the spectrum most of the year, depending on where you live.  I suppose in the southern hemisphere South light would be the answer, since North light would be more direct most of the time.  And again we have a situation where the lighting has to be matched to the environment and the season.  Hence the need for standards.  For most of my printing years I have used 5000K fluorescent lighting with a CRI of 90+ for viewing and correcting prints, and have never had an issue with any of my customers and their work.  I also have a track of five Solux 3500K lights accompanied by the 5000K fluorescent, which can of course be turned on independently or combined as needed.  I have also used 4800K for viewing and rather liked it, but they are very difficult to find now.  Keep in mind that, other than print density, the human brain and optical assembly tend to compensate for changes in colour temperature of viewing lights and the immediate surroundings as well.  As far as a viewing cabinet is concerned, I can see a definite use for that also, but rather difficult to accommodate a larger print.  Certainly useful for setting up a viewing area in close proximity to the display if that's an advantage.  I suppose it would be if one wants to match display to print as closely as possible.  In my humble opinion the best reason for a properly calibrated display is to make sure that when I tell a customer they have somehow compromised their image file, I can be certain it wasn't my display that was at fault.  Again, standards.  

We all have to have standards to work toward when printing for others or for ourselves.  What we can seldom control is the viewing conditions once the print has left our shop. At that point our hard work and expertise can be somewhat compromised, but as I've always been fond of saying, it is what it is.  In some cases it is possible to print for the actual viewing environment, but that seems to be a luxury we can seldom take advantage of.  Unfortunate as that may be, we once again have to rely on a standard and hope that it all averages out in the long run.    

Gary  





  
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digitaldog
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« Reply #19 on: December 22, 2012, 12:05:15 PM »
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What we can seldom control is the viewing conditions once the print has left our shop. At that point our hard work and expertise can be somewhat compromised, but as I've always been fond of saying, it is what it is.

Plus I assume, like better labs and suppliers, you show the customer the print under proper (OK ideal) illumination just as you viewed them when producing the final print. Customer will look at print in shop and either accept or not accept it. If they take that print home and complain due to the 'crappy' lighting, you can tell them the obvious cause. The print didn't magically get darker on the ride home. Client has to be aware and take responsibility for how they view the print outside your shop.

In the old days, all the photo labs I used for printing and processing had very good print and transparency viewers. I might take my rolls of transparency to a client who might examine them by holding them up to a window. OK, they don't really know how to view film. If they accept the film, I'm done. If they complain the image has a cool cast, it was my responsibility to have them view the chrome properly. I don't recall any clients objecting to this very useful lesson in viewing transparencies. Yet the problems with 'my prints are too dark' are largely caused by the same misunderstanding (non awareness if you will) that how you calibrate a display, for a visual match to your prints requires the print viewing conditions be sound. This isn't rocket science. It's actually just common sense. Again, the finest print you ever viewed will look like crap under crappy lighting. Don't use crappy lighting! I'm aware that this isn't always possible. But altering the good document data or expecting some ICC profile setting will fix this doesn't wash.

Of course, some of the imaging guru's would rather provide a more complex "solution" since tips to alter the data in the applications they write about is where the money is. Make a perfectly edited image lighter using this or that technique because the print is viewed in a dim environment. Makes about as much sense as always pushing your film 1 stop in processing because you always under expose your capture 1 stop. KISS!
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Andrew Rodney
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