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awilsondc
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awilsondc
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PostWed Oct 18, 2017 9:51 pm 
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When it comes to printing photos, I'll often get a photo back and look at it and think... that's not what I remember it looking like on my computer!  Usually the problem is that the photo is too dark on paper and I remember it being much brighter or vivid on the computer.  I've read that this is probably due to the back lit nature of a computer monitor, but it's super annoying.  I'd like to be assured that when I get finished with a photo and want to print it off for framing that it's going to come out the same way I see it on my screen, the way I want it.  Anyone have any advice in this regard, or tips to make sure my photos are printed the way they look on screen?  I've tried printing the photo in a 4x6 which helps, unless it's a panorama in which case it's so small it's hard to judge properly.  Plus it's an extra trip to the store to have the 4x6 printed, wait to get it back, adjust if necessary, etc.  I'd love to hear your thoughts on this.  Thanks!
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UWW
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PostThu Oct 19, 2017 12:12 am 
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I think everyone has the same issues to some degree.  As you suspect, your monitor is likely the main issue. I've gone as far as getting a 'cheap' (~$50 back in the day) color calibrator puck, and there are some online/CD methods as well. None seemed to solve the problem, but I felt better about it and learned a lot smile.gif

I do most of my printing at Costco, so I make sure to download the printer profile for the unit I will be using. https://www.drycreekphoto.com/icc/Profiles/Washington_profiles.htm#WA . Again, this seemed to feed my ego more than actually making a difference. Do make sure the place you print has their 'color correction' and other such options turned off. I do feel my colors are pretty good, as long as I'm not being super picky with a sunset or something.

However, beyond the printer and the computer hardware/software, there are things like the camera/lens, the paper used, the light properties of the room where you look at the print, and even a bit (or a lot) of your own mysterious brain. It may not even be possible to make it 'perfect'.

I think the real way to solve this issue is by making a test strip in photoshop and finding what tweaks you generally like best. Print a bunch of squares on an 8x10 and write down what tweaks were used and run with it. I have the same 'brightness' issue so I always crank mine up a bit for printing.  I don't go too crazy unless I'm making something large for framing- most people aren't going to notice and nobody has seen your 'vision' of the perfect shot- half the time people like things I didn't edit or what I thought were throwaways anyway smile.gif
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mike
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PostThu Oct 19, 2017 12:50 pm 
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Ideally you would calibrate the monitor using a colorimeter. Like this. However most new monitors come pretty well calibrated from the factory. The problem however is that they have the brightness cranked all the way up. Makes a good first impression and most people aren't looking to match prints. So the first thing I would try would be to reduce brightness to about 30%. Another thing to try is to look for your monitor at TFT Central and try one of the submitted profiles. TFT Central also has articles on calibration. That should get you started.
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awilsondc
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awilsondc
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PostThu Oct 19, 2017 9:11 pm 
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Thanks guys!  The test strip and 30% brightness ideas should help a lot.  I've already adjusted my monitor brightness and I think that alone will make a big difference.
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pcg
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PostSat Oct 21, 2017 3:03 pm 
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This is a really tough nut to crack and you can expend a great deal of energy, research, and money, trying to get a solution that makes you happy.If you don't do your own printing, then I would not do any more than you've already stated above.

If you do your own printing, then do the following...
1) Start by getting a ColorMunki and keep your monitor profiled. There are two reasons to profile a monitor - to try to make it display colors in a standard manner that the rest of the world uses, and to make it always display colors in a consistent manner. Unless you require your images to be presented to clients online in a standard calibrated fashion you don't care about the first reason, but the second is important because all monitors drift in and out of spec and you want it to always display colors in a consistent manner if you are concerned about making consistent prints.
2) Pay attention to the color temperature of the lighting under which you are viewing prints. This makes a dramatic difference. A print viewed under fluorescent lighting will look totally different than a print viewed under halogen lighting.
3) Select a paper you are happy with and stick with that. Prints look different on different papers.

Once you've done this, I suggest from that point on you simply print test strips or small versions of your photo and experiment until you get what you want on paper.

Some may suggest you profile your printer and paper and then take advantage of a photo editing "soft proofing" tool, such as is built into Adobe's Lightroom. Many professionals do this, and I have spent lots of money profiling printers and paper, and lots of exasperating hours trying to get usable results, and never been happy with soft proofing. I gave up on soft-proofing software. I simply could not get satisfactory results from it and have learned through experience how to make adjustments on my monitor to get what I want on paper. Sometimes it takes more than a few tries, but I print small until I'm happy with the results.

I wish you a quick and non-exasperating journey to a solution!
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Jim Dockery
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PostSun Oct 22, 2017 8:18 am 
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ditto.gif

I've done my own printing for years and still have the same problems. As you've stated part of it is the difference in back illuminated monitors (often set too bright/contrast/saturation) vs. reflective light on prints (the color temp. & intensity of light also makes a huge difference). For perfectionists like myself there is no perfect or easy answer. I get pretty good consistent results with my calibrated monitor printing on my standard Luster paper, but when printing large, or on other paper, I do a soft-proof (helps, but not perfect) and make a small test version or two before going big.

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joker
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PostSun Oct 22, 2017 11:18 am 
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Yup. Over time I've learned to  at least partially predict the increase in brightness (particularly in  the dark regions of a  print) that I need to make versus what  looks good on the calibrated  monitor in  order to get a decent first print.  But I find that I almost always  go through at least a few rounds  of  adjustment (of various sorts) once I  see the first print, so I also print relatively  small  to start  with to  save $. It helps to  have the  printer at home so the cycling is faster than if I were sending them  out for printing. I've had a few large prints made by a  service, and found that once I  had a good print on my home printer, that  file worked well  with  the service as well, for both a luster  print as well as for a canvas print  (though the look of  the  canvas print was a fair bit different,  as expected).

This situation is still WAY better than when  I was printing color photos from slides and negatives, where I was quite often having to  make new adjustments for paper with a new emulsion  # (both  paper and film come in "runs"  where  they  assign  an  emulsion  number, as the color response of the emulsion changes over time across  manufacturing runs). And there was no monitor with which  to  make at least an  informed guess about the first attempt.
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PostMon Oct 23, 2017 8:59 am 
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It is definitely a problem, even with a calibrated monitor.
Consider the way the color is being "lit up" on a monitor versus a piece of paper. 
The monitor glows and the color on paper just bounces back the light. (simplified explanation)

Guessing the difference and making the photo you send in brighter than it should be, to compensate for the darker print is my method.   Definitely trial by error.

Another option I recently tried is to get the metal prints.   For whatever reason, these seem to emulate your screen a lot better.   People in general really notice the difference and remark about how they "pop".   Costco does a good job on these for a reasonable price.  Plus you save money by not having to frame them.  They seem to match the calibrated monitor much better, even in brightness.

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mike
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PostMon Oct 23, 2017 10:01 am 
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Another thing I forgot to mention is that I generally sharpen more for a print. Go until it looks crunchy on the monitor and then back off just a bit. It will look over cooked on the screen but print fine.
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joker
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PostMon Oct 23, 2017 10:00 pm 
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I let Lightroom do my output sharpening for  me - it does a great job if you  specify the output method (i.e. sharpen for print even  if outputting a JPG to  send to a printing service). I do a separate "capture  sharpening" step at an earlier stage in the workflow, as outlined here  and described in  more detail in the  book  this short  article references: http://www.johnpaulcaponigro.com/blog/16862/when-how-to-sharpen-the-creative-image-sharpening-workflow/

On net,  doing this right definitely  yields more  highly  sharpened files  for  print. But the referenced book describes in  soporific detail  why doing this as a separate step from capture  sharpening is the best way to  go.
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awilsondc
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awilsondc
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PostWed Oct 25, 2017 7:33 am 
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Some really great tips here!  I'm going to try the sharpen for print thing too.
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joker
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PostThu Oct 26, 2017 12:27 pm 
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As long as you're doing "capture sharpening" the  right way  (with a  relatively light touch - well described in the book referenced in that  article), it works quite well IME. Whereas in Photoshop, you need to actually do some math to get output sharpening  right, Lightroom does all that  math for you based on your output size.
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