Advice Wanted Do you brighten up photos for printing?

jyc860923

Top Veteran
Location
Shenyang, China
Real Name
贾一川
I have my monitor and printer calibrated and the output from them match pretty well almost all the time.

The problem is, I think, due to the more limited dynamic range of printing with my Epson L805, unless I'm viewing the photo with very good light source, low key photos usually don't look very good, they can look quite accurate under good lighting, but I don't know how practical it is to have to view my photo albums always under bright lights.

And I was just watching a Thomas Heating Heaton video and he mentioned that prints always look darker than the screen, and he brightens up his photos half a stop for printing. I don't know if one should do that on a per photo basis or have a profile to do it for every print, but it doesn't sound 100% right to me since there's a hard limit in digital files, I need advices.

I'm thinking maybe doing curve adjustments to mimic the soft falloff of film but how do you guys do it?
 
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3 things:

1. Paper type. Glossy paper is capable of significantly higher dynamic range than matte paper, especially in the shadows. However, I find that properly matte paper is much, much less susceptible to light level changes in a room than glossy paper. Hence whenever I know I'm gonna hang a print in a room with changeable / uneven lighting (or in a location with potential for flare), I prefer matte. See point 3 though.

2. Screen brightness. You mention Thomas Heatings advice to prevent images from looking darker than the screen by bumping the exposure, and you're right, it does not feel 100% right for the reason that it probably isn't. It's better to do it the other way round: adjust screen brightness to match print brightness...

bartjeej

Hall of Famer
Real Name
bart
3 things:

1. Paper type. Glossy paper is capable of significantly higher dynamic range than matte paper, especially in the shadows. However, I find that properly matte paper is much, much less susceptible to light level changes in a room than glossy paper. Hence whenever I know I'm gonna hang a print in a room with changeable / uneven lighting (or in a location with potential for flare), I prefer matte. See point 3 though.

2. Screen brightness. You mention Thomas Heatings advice to prevent images from looking darker than the screen by bumping the exposure, and you're right, it does not feel 100% right for the reason that it probably isn't. It's better to do it the other way round: adjust screen brightness to match print brightness. When judging image brightness, contrast, color etc off the screen, make sure your screen is appropriately bright. Common printing wisdom is to have your monitor brightness set to around 100 or 120cd/m2, and maybe adjust it up or down depending on the lighting situation in your room (you still want the image on the screen to look good, so you'll want the monitor brightness to be lower if your room is dark and brighter if the room is bright). You can look up your screen's specs for maximum brightness and then decrease the brightness % to get you down to around 100 or 120cd/m2 and go from there. Maximum screen brightness is nice for seeing all the detail in your digital file but does not translate well to prints, especially dark prints.

3. Black point compensation / exposure compensation. When using the histogram to judge image brightness (which is recommendable regardless of screen brightness; adjusting screen brightness just gives you a better preview, but the printer receives the digital file regardless of your screen settings, hence the histogram gives you the "true" brightness), I would not want to bump the exposure for the entire image unless it really is underexposed compared to how you envisioned it. If it's supposed to be a low key image as you mentioned, I'd normally limit your adjustments to the darker parts of the image. Take into account the paper you're printing on. For each printer / paper combination, there's a black level below which everything ends up at maximum blackness. Glossy paper tends to allow for deeper blacks than matte paper, so prints on matte paper are more likely to need black point compensation than glossy prints.

I can try to explain black point compensation but I will never do a better job than Mitch Boyer, who unfortunately stopped his print shop business but whose incredibly useful videos are still on youtube:
 
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jyc860923

Top Veteran
Location
Shenyang, China
Real Name
贾一川
3 things:

1. Paper type. Glossy paper is capable of significantly higher dynamic range than matte paper, especially in the shadows. However, I find that properly matte paper is much, much less susceptible to light level changes in a room than glossy paper. Hence whenever I know I'm gonna hang a print in a room with changeable / uneven lighting (or in a location with potential for flare), I prefer matte. See point 3 though.

2. Screen brightness. You mention Thomas Heatings advice to prevent images from looking darker than the screen by bumping the exposure, and you're right, it does not feel 100% right for the reason that it probably isn't. It's better to do it the other way round: adjust screen brightness to match print brightness. When judging image brightness, contrast, color etc off the screen, make sure your screen is appropriately bright. Common printing wisdom is to have your monitor brightness set to around 100 or 120cd/m2, and maybe adjust it up or down depending on the lighting situation in your room (you still want the image on the screen to look good, so you'll want the monitor brightness to be lower if your room is dark and brighter if the room is bright). You can look up your screen's specs for maximum brightness and then decrease the brightness % to get you down to around 100 or 120cd/m2 and go from there. Maximum screen brightness is nice for seeing all the detail in your digital file but does not translate well to prints, especially dark prints.

3. Black point compensation / exposure compensation. When using the histogram to judge image brightness (which is recommendable regardless of screen brightness; adjusting screen brightness just gives you a better preview, but the printer receives the digital file regardless of your screen settings, hence the histogram gives you the "true" brightness), I would not want to bump the exposure for the entire image unless it really is underexposed compared to how you envisioned it. If it's supposed to be a low key image as you mentioned, I'd normally limit your adjustments to the darker parts of the image. Take into account the paper you're printing on. For each printer / paper combination, there's a black level below which everything ends up at maximum blackness. Glossy paper tends to allow for deeper blacks than matte paper, so prints on matte paper are more likely to need black point compensation than glossy prints.

I can try to explain black point compensation but I will never do a better job than Mitch Boyer, who unfortunately stopped his print shop business but whose incredibly useful videos are still on youtube:
Thank you Bart, that's way more informative and helpful than I anticipated, during today I also discovered the soft proofing function in LR and I tried it with the paper profile, while it isn't a perfect preview of the print, it does show how different in terms of light and darkness it can be on paper than on screen.

I didn't think of the matte vs glassy thing but it totally makes sense. Thanks again.
 

theoldsmithy

Hall of Famer
Location
Cheshire, England
Real Name
Martin Connolly
Thank you Bart, that's way more informative and helpful than I anticipated, during today I also discovered the soft proofing function in LR and I tried it with the paper profile, while it isn't a perfect preview of the print, it does show how different in terms of light and darkness it can be on paper than on screen.

I didn't think of the matte vs glassy thing but it totally makes sense. Thanks again.
I always find that, even using the correct ICC profile for my paper, and using a correctly calibrated screen, that I need to use the brightness and contrast sliders in the LR print dialog. I set them both to around +10 if I remember - I haven‘t printed anything for some time.
 

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