Thanks guys, that looks like a very helpful resource. Do you know if that tutorial talks about how to undo (as much as possible) those muddy colors and tones? Hope so.
Does the difference in dynamic range cause the colors and tones to look "muddy" or does that happen from something else with softproofing?
"Dynamic Range" essentially measures the blackness of your blacks relative to white. Muddiness is a an appearance occurring from "less-than-black" blacks which could be grayish or grayish-brownish, etc., depending on the colours of the image. When you change the viewing medium from your display to a printed image three essential things are happening: (i) the blacks get dulled-down because paper black is not as black as monitor black, (ii) the luminosity of the image gets dulled down because paper reflects light whereas a monitor transmits light, and (iii) white is seldom perfectly white, and the off-white of the monitor does not necessarily match the off-white of the paper you are using. For example, relative to my monitor's version of white, Ilford Gold Fibre Silk has a very slight warm cast, whereas Epson Premium Luster has a blueish cast. The purpose of softproofing in Photoshop is for the program to show you on your monitor what the print will look like. To do this, when you activate the softproof, make sure you have the same printer profile loaded in the soft-proof that you will be using for colour-managing the print. Also make sure to check the box for Simulate Paper White, as this makes the soft-proof show the outcome more accurately. And it may even upset your stomach.
Now, with the softproof active, you can to a considerable extent adjust the image so that the impact of the change from monitor to print appears to the eye to be mitigated, even though in objective terms you cannot overcome the basic limitations of the paper and ink combination. The usual ways I implement it are the following: (1) Make sure your display is calibrated and profiled to a white point which corresponds well with the viewing conditions of the prints. Some people like D50, others D65. You find this out by experimenting. (2) Use a paper which minimizes the difference between monitor and print - so I use Ilford Gold Fibre Silk (but there are other similar papers) whose tone and finish produce a softproof much closer to the monitor image than achievable with a matte paper which has lower DR. However, if you insist on printing on matte, which has its artistic merits, you miss out on that convenience. (3) A Curves Adjustment Layer which is dedicated to the softproof condition: with the softproof active, you would find yourself steepening the curve somewhat to increase contrast and increasing its mid-tone brightness; this will for sure compress some of the tonal detail in the very dark areas of the image, but it will provide more "snap" which you are trying to recover; so there is a bit of a trade-off here between "snap" and dark area tonal gradation; (4) add a "Vibrance" Adjustment Layer, and moderately increase the vibrancy of the image, which will help to brighten up some colours which may appear relatively dulled by the softproof. (4) Back in the Curves Adjustment Layer, if you find that the softproof results in the image having a slight colour cast you don't like, you can counteract it with very moderate mid-point shifts of the individual R, G, or B, curves; for example, if you thought the image a bit too warm under softproof, you could select the Blue Channel and very moderately increase the blue component. But care is needed here, because it affects the whole image. I seldom find myself doing this.
It will really be great when LR has a soft-proofing function, because that will be one more reason for avoiding a trip to Photoshop by being able to print the raw image quite accurately directly from the raw converter. Till then, what's above should help.