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Author Topic: Advanced Black and White "Darker" vs. "Dark" vs. "Normal"  (Read 3061 times)

Jeffrey Saldinger

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Re: Advanced Black and White "Darker" vs. "Dark" vs. "Normal"
« Reply #20 on: April 21, 2017, 11:00:50 AM »

For those who have wanted to know, I’m using a MacBook Pro (Retina, 15-inch, Mid 2014, El Capitan) and the Epson P800.

I never imagined that my OP would generate so many interesting comments about aspects of our undertaking that appear to be far from my most immediate questions.  But it did, and having thought about what has been written here that I am less familiar with than I want to be, I’d like to point this in different, and I hope narrow, direction.

Assume (for the sake of simplicity) that my curiosity in what follows is limited to ABW printing on the P800, always in Normal (no added hues) and that (in case this information is significant) my images are printed no larger than 9.75x6.5 inches for a 3:2 image or 7 inches square for a 1:1 on Canson Baryta (I do print larger sometimes for proofing of a sort).

Having spoken with many people who print and having read a lot on LuLa and elsewhere, it has remained unclear to me whether calibrating and profiling are important to my specific workflow, or even possible, given my equipment and the fact that I do not have optimum control over the ambient light in my working area.

I have not done any calibration/profiling work at all (beyond reading a lot), and while I probably wouldn’t hesitate if I felt confident it would make a difference in my work (and not “merely” theoretically), my most fervent curiosities do not lie in the direction to “merely” see before and after calibration/profiling results just to compare them.  I am pleased with my prints and wonder whether any paths that lead to their pleasing me more pass through the world of calibration/profiling.

In contemplating the linearity of my MBP/P800 system (which I hope I’m correct in assuming would be the major factor to consider for my BW work were I to undertake calibration/profiling to the extent my current system allows), I have always fallen back on the idea that it’s my eye looking at what the MBP/P800 produces that determines if the result is what I want and not achieving a technically measurable linearity.

The diagrams I’ve seen discussing curves that can correct non-linearity on even ideal monitor/software/printer setups (I’m thinking here still of just BW work) look to me to be relatively smallish tweaks (I don’t mean this usage here disparagingly), whose difference in the overall appearance the print would be minimal at best.

In my work, I use two cameras, one of which gives me DNGs, the other NEFs, and for the latter, I always start with the Camera Calibration panel’s profile set to Camera Neutral.  I have generally not sought other “starting point” ideas for what the image wants to become, although sometimes (if the image isn’t working to my satisfaction after I’ve put some time into it) I’ll use some of the Lr presets or the Silver Ex Pro possibilities to generate some ideas of what the image could become.  In Ps, in addition to whatever I do I also sometimes work with Tony Kuyper’s luminosity masks, and also with low-amount high-radius contrast adjustments (often with blend-if settings), and all of these things seem more important for the final output than whatever I might accomplish from calibrating and profiling and starting with a linearized system.

Assuming --  again to keep it simple and focussed and limited to a more easily managed number of variables -- that I don’t want to print in color, or get a high-end monitor, or establish a working area with controlled ambient light, or begin using new software, what would calibrating and profiling (if they are worth doing for my MBP/P800 system) do for my prints?

I am especially pleased here to be addressing an audience many of whose members have deep, comprehensive experience in these matters.  I want very much to understand these aspects of our work in the context of my needs.

Thanks in advance.

Jeffrey
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Mark D Segal

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Re: Advanced Black and White "Darker" vs. "Dark" vs. "Normal"
« Reply #21 on: April 21, 2017, 02:12:13 PM »

There is an exhausting thread on this topic here:  http://forum.luminous-landscape.com/index.php?topic=58778.0

I think perhaps you meant "exhaustive", but what you wrote is also true! :-)
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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Mark D Segal

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Re: Advanced Black and White "Darker" vs. "Dark" vs. "Normal"
« Reply #22 on: April 21, 2017, 02:35:03 PM »

For those who have wanted to know, I’m using a MacBook Pro (Retina, 15-inch, Mid 2014, El Capitan) and the Epson P800.

..............Assume (for the sake of simplicity) that my curiosity in what follows is limited to ABW printing on the P800, always in Normal (no added hues)

..............In Ps, in addition to whatever I do I also sometimes work with Tony Kuyper’s luminosity masks, and also with low-amount high-radius contrast adjustments (often with blend-if settings), and all of these things seem more important for the final output than whatever I might accomplish from calibrating and profiling and starting with a linearized system.

..................what would calibrating and profiling (if they are worth doing for my MBP/P800 system) do for my prints?


Jeffrey
www.jeffreysaldinger.com

Jeffrey,

Good questions and I appreciate your effort to refocus the discussion to what concerned you in the first place. We often have a tendency to meander, but these meanderings can be insightful, so not a total waste of time.

The information about your equipment is actually relevant and important. It just so happens that profiling a laptop display is often not as useful as profiling a fixed desktop display - there are reasons, let's leave it at that so we stay focused on the main thread. This being the case, it does call into question how rigorous your colour management set-up can be with the equipment you have, and that in turn how far you can tweak it to optimize outcomes.

The main place for concern about "theoretical" matters such linearization and dE calculations measuring profile performance is upstream of your print making. These tools and concepts are most usefully deployed by developers, testers, reviewers and concerned photographers trying to situate how accurately and reliably equipment and materials perform to produce expected outcomes. The underlying principle is that if the equipment/materials successfully meets or surpasses stated technical criteria one can better count on them for reliable production of prints the way we expected to see them. This kind of information can be most useful at the time of investing in equipment and materials.

From then onward, neither you nor the viewers of your prints will care a whit about input:output curves, dE outcomes and the like. All that matters is what the final result - the print - looks like. If it satisfies - routinely, what went into making it is fine. If it doesn't satisfy routinely, well then you need to lift the curtain and find out why and how to improve it. So you are quite right to focus on outcomes. So much to say that if you are satisfied with the results you are getting and they meet your needs, you're done. You needn't fuss over whether you use ABW, or ICC. So let us revert to your original post opening this thread. In that post you expressed some measure of uneasiness about the tonality you were achieving from your workflow and how you could improve it. All the discussion here and the "exhausting" thread Alan kindly reminded us of above would indicate that perhaps the ABW workflow isn't optimal for achieving the kind of flexibility, control and predictability that you would like to have so that you could be more assured of optimal outcomes. Once again, I would encourage you to experiment between the approaches and land on what works best for you: input works in the service of output.
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Alan Goldhammer

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Re: Advanced Black and White "Darker" vs. "Dark" vs. "Normal"
« Reply #23 on: April 21, 2017, 02:42:54 PM »

I think perhaps you meant "exhaustive", but what you wrote is also true! :-)
I did mean what I wrote but you are correct on the first part as well!!!!
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Mark D Segal

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Re: Advanced Black and White "Darker" vs. "Dark" vs. "Normal"
« Reply #24 on: April 21, 2017, 02:47:03 PM »

 :)
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Alan Goldhammer

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Re: Advanced Black and White "Darker" vs. "Dark" vs. "Normal"
« Reply #25 on: April 21, 2017, 03:13:29 PM »

If you want to get down into the weeds, the review of the Epson 3800 by Giorgio Trucco has some good insights about the ABW print driver.  In particular, he as curves of each of the 'darkness' settings.  http://www.outbackphoto.com/printinginsights/pi045/essay.html#20070103

Alan
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Re: Advanced Black and White "Darker" vs. "Dark" vs. "Normal"
« Reply #26 on: April 21, 2017, 03:23:44 PM »

I remember that. But it's ten years ago. Nonetheless useful you resurrect it. The principles are probably still applicable, but the details have undoubtedly changed.
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Jeffrey Saldinger

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Re: Advanced Black and White "Darker" vs. "Dark" vs. "Normal"
« Reply #27 on: April 21, 2017, 03:57:05 PM »

Mark, I am grateful for your long, encouraging, very helpful reply.  Thank you.

I will write again with specific questions relating to a few things you mentioned as they relate to the not-so-hypothetical workflow and machines I have, but because I just got home and read your reply for the first time, it may be some hours or tomorrow before I can put together a coherent post.

Thanks again.

Jeffrey
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Wayne Fox

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Re: Advanced Black and White "Darker" vs. "Dark" vs. "Normal"
« Reply #28 on: April 21, 2017, 09:02:27 PM »

Wayne, I'm looking for the most minimal number of optimum patches to fit on a single page. Can you share a starting point?

Thanks in advance.

Stephen Ray
here are the optimum number of patches for various target sizes.  As to fitting one on a single sheet, it obviously depends on how large the sheet is and for what device you are generating the target, but guessing 1005 is the most likely candidate.

734, 815, 905, 1005, 1215, 1336, 1457, 1590, 1733, 1877, 2033, 2202, 2371

If you increase the patch size of any of those targets by one patch, the target has no gray patches and no near gray patches. Reducing the number  decreases "near" gray patches, obviously until you get to the next "break" point.

I've attached two images showing the difference between a 815 and an 816 patch target.  To me not having any grays and near grays is not optimal so it makes sense to use a target generated using one of these settings even though it is a "smaller" target. I don't think the addition of a large number of color patches at the expense of eliminating all grays will yield as good of a profile.  I will admit I've never measured this, but I have had the feeling that my profiles since I moved from 4000 to 4101 patches have given me a little cleaner look to what I would evaluate as neutral tones.

« Last Edit: April 21, 2017, 09:07:00 PM by Wayne Fox »
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Ferp

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Re: Advanced Black and White "Darker" vs. "Dark" vs. "Normal"
« Reply #29 on: April 21, 2017, 11:55:59 PM »

There is an exhausting thread on this topic here:  http://forum.luminous-landscape.com/index.php?topic=58778.0

Exhausting?  Yes.  Exhaustive?  No, not in my view.  Frustrating?  Definitely, because of the way that people were talking at cross-purposes, especially about the interaction of the profiles and the ABW driver.  At least now I understand the Mac problem - that ABW is not selectable under Photoshop Manages Colors in OS X.  Thanks.  Pity.  Print Tool should solve that problem.

If you want to get down into the weeds, the review of the Epson 3800 by Giorgio Trucco has some good insights about the ABW print driver.  In particular, he as curves of each of the 'darkness' settings.  http://www.outbackphoto.com/printinginsights/pi045/essay.html#20070103

I must have seen that blog before, but looking at it again I'm surprised about how linear ABW appears to be.  Someone posted some ABW linearization measurement plots in the Digital B&W group a while back, and they were anything but.  I suspect that it depends on the media type that you specify in the driver, and it may also be that the 3880 is different.  My own experience isn't consistent with the plots in that post.

Assuming --  again to keep it simple and focussed and limited to a more easily managed number of variables -- that I don’t want to print in color, or get a high-end monitor, or establish a working area with controlled ambient light, or begin using new software, what would calibrating and profiling (if they are worth doing for my MBP/P800 system) do for my prints?

Given that the thread has wandered far and wide from your question (apologies if I've contributed to that) then I am hesitant to answer, at least ahead of your forthcoming specific questions.  But a short version would be consistency and predictability.  As per my comments in the previous para, I don't get that with ABW.  I'm not satisfied with the monitor to print match and I find too much variability if I change the media setting in the driver because I've changed papers.  Working with ICC profiles deals with that, and as I said in the intro to my first post, gets me back closer to where I am with my color printing.

Now if you don't have a problem with monitor to print matching or consistency, and it seems that some people don't, then you probably don't need to complicate your life by worrying about it.
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Alan Goldhammer

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Re: Advanced Black and White "Darker" vs. "Dark" vs. "Normal"
« Reply #30 on: April 22, 2017, 08:42:59 AM »

Jeffery wrote, "Assume (for the sake of simplicity) that my curiosity in what follows is limited to ABW printing on the P800, always in Normal (no added hues) and that (in case this information is significant) my images are printed no larger than 9.75x6.5 inches for a 3:2 image or 7 inches square for a 1:1 on Canson Baryta (I do print larger sometimes for proofing of a sort)."

since he is making moderate sized prints (presumably on letter size paper, things 'might' be a little easier in terms of getting optimal results.  If he is going to continue to use the ABW driver, settling on a single paper would be best.  Doing this would eliminate the need for constant print checking when shifting paper brands/types.  I'm not familiar with the laptop display that he is using and of course not having a good calibrated display is a hindrance.  It will take a fair amount of printing to get as to what appears on the screen is realized in the print.

Mark Segal noted that the newer Epson printers have advanced the technology.  My gut feeling is that Jeffery will be better served by using the normal print path for B/W work.  In this manner, soft proofing can be used with the appropriate profile.  What I don't know is whether the paper manufacturer's profiles are done with some additional B/W patches.  My own testing indicates that this is helpful in achieving the best results.
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Jeffrey Saldinger

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Re: Advanced Black and White "Darker" vs. "Dark" vs. "Normal"
« Reply #31 on: April 22, 2017, 08:58:19 AM »

My follow-ups to Mark’s most recent long post are these:

“...profiling a laptop display is often not as useful as profiling a fixed desktop display...”

I believe I am aware at least some of the limiting factors for laptops (glossiness, brightness control, corner-to-corner consistency, and limited gamut vs Adobe RGB).  Without knowing the possibly-limited benefits (to my situation), these are the reasons I’ve been reluctant to undertake calibration and profiling.  Are there other limiting factors given my MBP I might  want to know about (not that those aren’t enough, but I’m curious)?



“...how accurately and reliably equipment and materials perform to produce expected outcomes...reliable productions of prints the way we expected to see them”

From what I’ve read, I gather that some who work in color printing or design check things as often as daily, and I understand that calibrating/profiling/color management of the sort I haven’t done are necessary in many settings.
But Mark’s wording helped crystalize for me one of the questions about color management that I hadn’t known I wanted to ask.  (Perhaps in my case I should say “black and white management” because I’d still like to understand these issues in context of my black and white printing, with no consideration whatever of color printing for the time being).

The question Mark prompts is the extent to which (if any) comparing prints I make six months from now (or three months or a year, etc.) from files I’ve completed and printed today might look different to my eye for reasons that have to do only with any sort of “drift” (or whatever the proper term is) of my MBP or the P800 that has occurred little by little and that I wasn’t aware of, that is, “drift” I was unaware of solely because I was not regularly checking and doing whatever calibration and profiling I could with my MBP/P800 combination, regardless of such calibration/profiling’s shortcomings. I want to stress my assumption in wondering about this that everything else is held constant, that no other variables are considered (I hope this is a useful limitation in this deliberation).



“So let us revert to your original post opening this thread. In that post you expressed some measure of uneasiness about the tonality you were achieving from your workflow and how you could improve it...perhaps the ABW workflow isn't optimal for achieving the kind of flexibility, control and predictability that you would like to have so that you could be more assured of optimal outcomes.”

It was not my intention to communicate uneasiness about the tones in ABW Darker vs Dark vs Normal, and I regret not expressing that more clearly.  With the millions of variables our science and craft ask (compel?) us to consider and make decisions about (and I am aware of my own predisposition to really enjoy thinking about some of them and wanting very much not to think at all about others), I’m perfectly happy for now staying with ABW Normal (and neutral toning).  Coming to photography after decades of painting and drawing, I feel I have good sense when I can make a work “different” but not “better” and therefore tend to limit myself (wisely, I hope) in how many iterations I try before I consider stopping work on a file (and I often return to files when I perceive they can benefit from something I didn't know about before). 

In my OP I was curious about whether what was going on in the “black box” of ABW in going between Darker/Dark/Normal (and I suppose the whole series from Darkest through Light) could be accomplished in Ps with fairly straightforward curves and/or blend modes (Multiply, Screen) (or other common adjustments) while still printing in ABW Normal exclusively.  I think the thread to this point (as well as the Brett Ellison blog cited in an earlier post) has fully quenched my curiosity about that.  I have found that my relationship with Photoshop sometimes finds me wanting to learn more about it by trying to replicate there certain effects created by Silver Efex Pro presets or custom adjustments.  This is a manifestion of software curiosity that feels natural to me.

Where Mark uses the words “flexibility, control, and predictability”, my thoughts turn to Lr and Ps, where I feel I have an abundance of those attributes for my work, leading now to optimal outcomes (and of course I keep trying things and learning), but I remain curious (and will value some guidance here) about control and predictability (using only ABW Normal) if I don’t do calibration/profiling from time to time to whatever extent is possible with my current MBP/P800/current software system.

Continuing thanks to everyone who has helped here, and apologies for not having been able to figure out how to quote from earlier posts as others do.  I looked for instructions but didn't find any.  Are there any written up?

Jeffrey
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Mark D Segal

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Re: Advanced Black and White "Darker" vs. "Dark" vs. "Normal"
« Reply #32 on: April 22, 2017, 10:33:45 AM »

My follow-ups to Mark’s most recent long post are these:
..................but I remain curious (and will value some guidance here) about control and predictability (using only ABW Normal) if I don’t do calibration/profiling from time to time to whatever extent is possible with my current MBP/P800/current software system.

Jeffrey
www.jeffreysaldinger.com

Going back to my closing sentence of Reply #22, the amount of control and predictability you have under AM would be much greater than what you have under ABW, but if you are pleased with your results, just carry on with your current set-up. If you want to see whether you can further improve on them, you need to experiment with alternative print pipelines yourself and decide what works best for you. There's nothing more I can advise on this matter.
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Alan Goldhammer

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Re: Advanced Black and White "Darker" vs. "Dark" vs. "Normal"
« Reply #33 on: April 22, 2017, 10:40:23 AM »


“...how accurately and reliably equipment and materials perform to produce expected outcomes...reliable productions of prints the way we expected to see them”

From what I’ve read, I gather that some who work in color printing or design check things as often as daily, and I understand that calibrating/profiling/color management of the sort I haven’t done are necessary in many settings.
Monthly profiling of a monitor is what I do and it works fine.  Good monitors don't have a lot drift in terms of color and luminescence within that period of time.

Quote
But Mark’s wording helped crystalize for me one of the questions about color management that I hadn’t known I wanted to ask.  (Perhaps in my case I should say “black and white management” because I’d still like to understand these issues in context of my black and white printing, with no consideration whatever of color printing for the time being).

The question Mark prompts is the extent to which (if any) comparing prints I make six months from now (or three months or a year, etc.) from files I’ve completed and printed today might look different to my eye for reasons that have to do only with any sort of “drift” (or whatever the proper term is) of my MBP or the P800 that has occurred little by little and that I wasn’t aware of, that is, “drift” I was unaware of solely because I was not regularly checking and doing whatever calibration and profiling I could with my MBP/P800 combination, regardless of such calibration/profiling’s shortcomings. I want to stress my assumption in wondering about this that everything else is held constant, that no other variables are considered (I hope this is a useful limitation in this deliberation).
If by 'drift' you mean a change in the viewed image, there should be close to zero change unless you are exposing it to extremely bright lights or sunlight where there could be degradation.  The Aardenburg imaging website has lots of data on print stability (http://www.aardenburg-imaging.com/ ).  The color patch sets used for testing do include black, paper white and a couple of greys.  There is very little if any short term fading. 

Modern printers are extremely good in terms of reproducibility of images.  That should not be an issue.  The only thing that will be an issue is if you as the photographer/printer are dissatisfied with some aspect of the print (tonal range, contrast, etc.); it won't be a mechanical issue.



Quote
“So let us revert to your original post opening this thread. In that post you expressed some measure of uneasiness about the tonality you were achieving from your workflow and how you could improve it...perhaps the ABW workflow isn't optimal for achieving the kind of flexibility, control and predictability that you would like to have so that you could be more assured of optimal outcomes.”

It was not my intention to communicate uneasiness about the tones in ABW Darker vs Dark vs Normal, and I regret not expressing that more clearly.  With the millions of variables our science and craft ask (compel?) us to consider and make decisions about (and I am aware of my own predisposition to really enjoy thinking about some of them and wanting very much not to think at all about others), I’m perfectly happy for now staying with ABW Normal (and neutral toning).  Coming to photography after decades of painting and drawing, I feel I have good sense when I can make a work “different” but not “better” and therefore tend to limit myself (wisely, I hope) in how many iterations I try before I consider stopping work on a file (and I often return to files when I perceive they can benefit from something I didn't know about before). 

In my OP I was curious about whether what was going on in the “black box” of ABW in going between Darker/Dark/Normal (and I suppose the whole series from Darkest through Light) could be accomplished in Ps with fairly straightforward curves and/or blend modes (Multiply, Screen) (or other common adjustments) while still printing in ABW Normal exclusively.  I think the thread to this point (as well as the Brett Ellison blog cited in an earlier post) has fully quenched my curiosity about that.  I have found that my relationship with Photoshop sometimes finds me wanting to learn more about it by trying to replicate there certain effects created by Silver Efex Pro presets or custom adjustments.  This is a manifestion of software curiosity that feels natural to me.

Where Mark uses the words “flexibility, control, and predictability”, my thoughts turn to Lr and Ps, where I feel I have an abundance of those attributes for my work, leading now to optimal outcomes (and of course I keep trying things and learning), but I remain curious (and will value some guidance here) about control and predictability (using only ABW Normal) if I don’t do calibration/profiling from time to time to whatever extent is possible with my current MBP/P800/current software system.
As was noted in one of the earlier replies, the visualization tools that one normally employs (e.g., soft proofing) are not available on the MacOS you are using.  With ABW, you are getting a print that Epson wants you to have using the Normal setting.  There is nothing wrong with that at all and you can obtain excellent results.  The only issue is the amount of trial and error that you want to endure.  Over time this should decrease as you will have a better feeling about how what you are seeing on screen translates to the print.  You have already made the major decision:  the choice of paper and the setting of the Epson ABW driver.  Those two make things reduce the number of variables.

alan
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Re: Advanced Black and White "Darker" vs. "Dark" vs. "Normal"
« Reply #34 on: April 22, 2017, 02:19:56 PM »

In the context of this discussion thread, I am wondering if anyone has tried to use the free Epson application called Print Layout. The features include:

Additional Epson Print Layout Features:

  • Simplified Interface – Intuitive linear workflow allows for quick and easy navigation of printer, layout and color settings
    Versatility – Epson Print Layout is available as a Photoshop plug-in or as a standalone application
    Creative Customized Gallery Wrap Prints – Choose from multiple frame and border options for printing on canvas
    Easily Print Panoramas – Epson Print Layout automatically sizes the print based on your selected image and roll width
    Designed for Color-Managed Workflows – Offers full ICC profile support; or users can select automatic color modes through the Epson driver
    Live Preview for Advanced Black-and-White Photo Mode1 – Directly fine-tune and preview black-and-white images within Epson Print Layout to achieve the ideal tonal range

I direct your attention to the bullet point: Live Preview for Advanced Black-and-White Photo Mode1 – Directly fine-tune and preview black-and-white images within Epson Print Layout to achieve the ideal tonal range


See http://news.epson.com/news/epson-announces-print-layout-software
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Mark D Segal

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Re: Advanced Black and White "Darker" vs. "Dark" vs. "Normal"
« Reply #35 on: April 22, 2017, 03:39:50 PM »

Yes - good catch. I do have this utility, but had not yet gotten to testing it. One can select ABW mode, it handles RAW files, and the effects of its various tonal and hue adjustments can be seen on screen. I shall be printing from it for a forthcoming review, so I'll be looking out for how well the screen image to print matches, in a while.
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Jeffrey Saldinger

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Re: Advanced Black and White "Darker" vs. "Dark" vs. "Normal"
« Reply #36 on: April 23, 2017, 10:32:20 AM »

Thank you Alan, Ferp, and Mark for continuing with such helpful comments.

Alan, following up to your post #33, I add the clarification (and I’m sorry I wasn’t clear enough the first time) that by “drift” I did not mean anything about material degradation.  I was thinking about what you were commenting on when you wrote:  “Modern printers are extremely good in terms of reproducibility of images.  That should not be an issue.  The only thing that will be an issue is if you as the photographer/printer are dissatisfied with some aspect of the print (tonal range, contrast, etc.); it won't be a mechanical issue.”  What I take from this is that if I make a print on January 1 and print the same file on December 31 (or “whenever”) with the same printer/paper etc., the two prints will be indistinguishable from each other, i.e., that no “drift” of my MBP/P800 hardware will have happened that I failed to perceive because I was not calibrating/profiling at some regular interval.

Perhaps I’ve demonstrated (and will continue in what follows to demonstrate) a failure to understand something significant about calibrating/profiling. It has always been my understanding that one reason high-end printers calibrate/profile their systems at some self-defined regular interval (and so many people have said that I “really should” calibrate/profile, even thought I have "just" a MBP) is that they are trying to “catch” some drift of what whatever optimal variables were set in the "initial" calibration/profiling. Is my understanding off the mark here?

Which gives rise to the following question:  If for the time being I can live with whatever discrepancies exist between what I see on my MBP screen and what comes out of my P800 (and I suppose this would apply to color as well as to BW printing), then am I correct in concluding that profiling/calibration to whatever extent that might even be possible would add nothing; that there is no point in my calibrating/profiling (especially in view of the limited MBP screen's gamut)?  That is, is the purpose (or a primary purpose) of using a high-end monitor with a P800 (or any printer) and all the intermediate hardware/software for calibrating/profiling to have as close a match as possible between the image on the screen and the image as it is printed (and catching “drift” plays no part)?  If “drift” that needs to be “caught” and corrected for is not an issue (as you seem to be saying in your post), and I can live with the disparity between screen and print, then (you seem to be saying) that disparity will be constant over time.  But then if “drift” is not an issue (“Modern printers are extremely good in terms of reproducibility of images”), why check at regular intervals?  Only for working in a carefully-managed color universe with other people in other locations using other software/hardware and results needing to be constant throughout that universe?

And please know that I express this with full respect for your experience and knowledge, not in a mode of argumentativeness.  I really want to understand this issue to apply it to decisions I may be making in upgrading my studio.



Ferp, regarding your reply #29 (“But a short version would be consistency and predictability.  As per my comments in the previous para, I don't get that with ABW.  I'm not satisfied with the monitor to print match and I find too much variability if I change the media setting in the driver because I've changed papers.”):

I think what you wrote here dovetails nicely with what I’ve addressed to Alan about monitor/print matching (and remember I’ve limited everything in my posts to BW printing), but on the matter of using ABW, is there something I should know about ABW not giving “consistency and predicability”.  I'm aware it has been referred to as a “black box”, but isn’t it a reliable and consistent one?
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Jeffrey
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Re: Advanced Black and White "Darker" vs. "Dark" vs. "Normal"
« Reply #37 on: April 23, 2017, 07:41:02 PM »

It would be interesting to see what folks think of the demosaicing if you print some raw files.
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Re: Advanced Black and White "Darker" vs. "Dark" vs. "Normal"
« Reply #38 on: April 23, 2017, 08:09:26 PM »

It would be interesting to see what folks think of the demosaicing if you print some raw files.

I should have those answers within several weeks.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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Re: Advanced Black and White "Darker" vs. "Dark" vs. "Normal"
« Reply #39 on: April 23, 2017, 08:56:58 PM »

What I take from this is that if I make a print on January 1 and print the same file on December 31 (or “whenever”) with the same printer/paper etc., the two prints will be indistinguishable from each other, i.e., that no “drift” of my MBP/P800 hardware will have happened that I failed to perceive because I was not calibrating/profiling at some regular interval.

Before I respond to the question addressed to me, let me chime in on this issue.  The prints should be indistinguishable.  What might cause a difference?  Well, printers do drift as they age.  I have measured that with older and smaller printers, but I'd expect less in a P800.  The inks might age and / or settle, but with Epson inks you'd have to have cartridges that are several years old to see this effect.  There is another thread here at present where someone has had that problem.  If you print regularly then this shouldn't be a problem.  That said, if you only print monochrome then you may need to print a special pattern from time to time to exercise the color channels.  One advantage of creating your own printer / paper / ink ICC profiles is that it would correct for printer drift should it occur over a period of many years.

Ferp, regarding your reply #29 (“But a short version would be consistency and predictability.  As per my comments in the previous para, I don't get that with ABW.  I'm not satisfied with the monitor to print match and I find too much variability if I change the media setting in the driver because I've changed papers.”):

I think what you wrote here dovetails nicely with what I’ve addressed to Alan about monitor/print matching (and remember I’ve limited everything in my posts to BW printing), but on the matter of using ABW, is there something I should know about ABW not giving “consistency and predicability”.  I'm aware it has been referred to as a “black box”, but isn’t it a reliable and consistent one?

Is ABW a reliable and consistent black box?  Yes and no.  What are we all trying to do?  We edit an image on a monitor and we print it.  We want the print to match what we see on the monitor.  As I read this thread you don't have a calibrated and profiled screen on your MBP. 

Broadly speaking, there are two ways to get that match if printing via ABW.  One would be to take a test image that has a good range of tones (e.g. the Northern Light one) and print it using the five ABW tone settings from light to darkest, and choose the one that best matches your screen.  You may find that you have to make an allowance in PS or LR to get that match if the closest ABW setting is still a little too light or too dark. 

It sounds like that's what you're doing now.  ABW is a black box because it only gives you five tone settings to try and match the print to your monitor by trial and error.  And if none of them are a good match then you're stuck.

What about reliability and consistency?  Well if you do as I just suggested and find a tone setting that works for you and only use one specific paper then you may well find it satisactory.  Perhaps also if you're using more than one paper and they're all fairly similar, which includes using the same media setting in Epson driver.  That said, I don't have enough experience with ABW to be able to confidently predict whether the black box behaves consistently, i.e. gives you a good match, across a wide range of image types from low-key to high-key.

But my experience is that if you change paper type, and have to change the media setting, then there are no guarantees.  My experience is that the black box behaves very differently for matte and non-matte papers.  This is is neither consistent or reliable IMHO.

The other approach to getting that match when printing via ABW is to use the techniques of color management.   I know that you're only interested in BW printing, but the objective of getting a monitor to print match applies equally to color and BW, and the techniques involved with color management were developed to 'solve' this matching problem for color printing, so the question is - why not apply them to BW printing as well?   The answer is that you can.  Certainly that's my experience and I gather Alan's as well.

However Apple, Adobe and Epson conspire to make it hard, both on OS X and Windows, although in different ways.  I really don't understand why they do.  I suspect it's to protect less informed users from making gross errors of configuration, and I've seen comments to that effect from an Adobe software engineer about some of the changes that Adobe have made.  But there are ways around their obstacles if you want to adopt this approach.

[As an aside, there is a view you sometimes hear that monitor to print matching is not relevant - if the objective is a print then that's all that matters and you get there by trial and error much as one did in a traditional darkroom, because the monitor is unreliable.  I don't subscribe to this view.  The monitor can't perfectly replicate the print, but you can pretty darn close with the right workflow and gear, which can help you get you to the print you want much faster.]

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