Color Calibration Part II

(By Mark)

Last week we talked about the first half of the process, calibrating our monitors.  The next step is getting it out of your computer and on to your output device or service.  One of the key things to remember is that printed images are seen with reflected light and not backlight as they are on your monitors.  It seems obvious, but it is the number one reason, why the images seem “darker” when they get printed.  Luckily, adjusting for this has gotten much easier in Lightroom.  That being said, it still requires some thought and adjustment.   If you print your own images than you will want to understand which colors your printer can reproduce and how they relate to what you see on screen.   These days printer manufacturers include an ICC profile with their installation software.  The International Color Consortium (ICC) has developed a standardized data set which describes how that device works with different color spaces and outputs.   If you are using even moderate quality photo papers they too have their own ICC profiles tailored specifically for most major printer models.  

Hannemuehle 

Hannemuehle 

For high end papers such as Hannemuele or Red River, you can be very specific.  If you want the color profile for Red River 64lb Aurora Art Natural Fine Art paper, you can, and should download them.  

Hannemuehle Fine Art   http://harman.hahnemuehle.com/site/en/821/icc-profiles.html

These days I rarely print my own images.  Mostly because printers able to print 20 x 24 and larger are very, very expensive.   I use and love www.mpix.com.    They too have a downloadable set of icc profiles.  

While I am not a huge fan, lots of people claim to get good results from their local Costcos.  You can even download their icc profiles from Dry Creek Photo http://www.drycreekphoto.com/icc/

Fortunately, Windows and Apple have finally made managing these invisible in the operating system.  When you download and unzip them, the OS will ask if you want to install them, and then will do so without fuss.

Having the profiles available is only the beginning.  You have to think about using them in your workflow.   There are 2 locations in LR where you need to think about the profiles.  The first logically is in the print module. 

In the Print Job panel, you can select both your output device and your Color Management selection.  If you click on the up/down arrows in Profile, it will open a window showing all of the profiles you have downloaded. 

Two IMPORTANT reminders; One, if you don’t change your profile, it will stay set at that for all future jobs; two, LR embeds your color management profile as part of the metadata for your photo.   This means when you send the file somewhere it will contain the data needed to print it.   Have you spotted the flaw in this process yet?  Well, it’s not obvious, but the print module display doesn’t change to reflect the profile you selected.  

You have to go back to the Develop Module, where they added an important and underused feature called “Soft Proofing”.   

Down in the bottom left hand corner of the image window in the module is a check box.  Selecting it changes the background around the image to white, which better shows how it will look when printed, and it opens up a new Soft Proofing panel.  

Again, you have the opportunity to select the icc profile you intend to use and you can see how it changes the appearance of your image.  If you need to make changes, a dialog box opens up and asks if you want to “Create virtual copy for soft proofing?”  

This keeps the adjustments you need for printing separate from your master copy.   Now when you go back to the Print Module, use the virtual copy and you are good to go.  If you select “Make This a Proof”, it will make this the master version.  Most often you should choose “Create Proof Copy”.  There are a lot more things to learn, but they get really technical quickly.  If you have questions, send us a note and we will try and answer them. 

If you are in the Northern VA area, this will be the topic of this week’s Fauquier Viewfinder Camera Club meeting on Thursday evening at 7PM at the Hospital.   All are welcome to come and join us.