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.  



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

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    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

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.  

Print Your Photos

Sorry, we’ve been quiet the last couple of days.  The goal is to publish a blog every day, but Mark and I are still trying to work out some kinks. Today, we have a simple tip for everyone: Print your pictures!

If you’re older than 20 years old, you probably remember looking at photo albums or piles of loose pictures stuck in a drawer or shoe box.  You laughed at the silly clothes your parents wore and wondered how they could ever have looked that young.  And you remembered different places you lived as you grew up.  You saw your grandparents and some other old folks who look like they might be related, but you don’t ever remember meeting them.   As a genealogy buff, I love to look at the old black and whites of relatives.  Today, we get photo CDs and pictures attached in our emails.  You look at them and might even save a copy or print them out on photo paper, but probably not.  But, after a hard drive failure or computer upgrade, those photo files disappear – forever.  Don’t let this happen to you.

Now that Mark has all of you organizing your photo files (you did go and organize your files, right?), let me remind you of something he mentioned in Part 1 – back-up your photos!  Hard drives die every day.  Everybody knows they should back-up files; do you really have to experience a hard drive failure to drive the point home?

Where were we?  Oh, yeah, printing pictures….Do it!  There are plenty of places you can have pictures made without spending much, and, later, we’ll mention some of our favorite printers and talk about ensuring you get on paper what you see on your screen.  Today, I just want to make sure you go out and print some pictures so the next generation can sort through the magic paper memories.

Print some for your walls, and take them into the office for your desk.  I used to rotate some of my photos in a display in my office, so visitors would ask about them.  It gave me a chance to show off a little (not a bad thing if you’re trying to sell one or two), but it also gave me a chance to hear opinions about what people liked and disliked in my photography.  The upstairs hallway walls in our house are covered with a chaotic collage of our family pictures (oddly enough, we are pretty chaotic bunch).  If you are printing them out on a regular basis, you don’t care if the nasty sun will fade them, just keep throwing more of them up (you have the originals organized and backed up).

Give them away as gifts.  They are much more personal than the gift cards everyone loves so much.  Wait a minute, I love gift cards…..heck, give them pictures with the gift cards.

Here is one of the 30 I sent in tonight.  Show people how you’re having fun.