Pages: 1 2 [3]   Go Down

Author Topic: My print is too dark - and I *have* calibrated and profiled  (Read 9240 times)

bill t.

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 2979
Re: My print is too dark - and I *have* calibrated and profiled
« Reply #40 on: December 20, 2012, 11:15:29 PM »

Image->Adjustments->Shadows/Highlights... works as well, although you will want to apply it to a copy of your image since it is non reversible.  Normally you would only work on the Shadows controls.

There is a useful variation of the "Screen" layer trick that concentrates the effect mostly on the dark areas.

--With the image layer selected, create a "Luminosity" select with Ctrl+ Alt + 2.

--Invert the selection with Shift + Ctrl + I.

--Create a Curves layer above the color image layer, which will inherit the already inverted luminance selection as a mask.

--Set the new Curves layer's blend mode to Screen.

(You don't normally make any adjustments to the new Curves layer, it's there just to do the Screen magic.  But you can fiddle with it if you like.)

--Adjust the Opacity slider on the new Curves layer to taste.

--Helps to have an overall Curves layer on top of all this, use Luminosity mode if you want to avoid over saturation.

--You can adjust the brightness and contrast of the mask to further concentrate the effect in even darker areas of the image.

As with any adjustment layer with an image-based mask, you need to do any rubber stamping and dust bunny removal beforehand.



  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 11354
Re: My print is too dark - and I *have* calibrated and profiled
« Reply #41 on: December 21, 2012, 10:08:59 AM »

Brilliant!  Such a simple trick yet works so well.  I was just posting about this same issue with my prints coming out a little darker.  I just got a Colormunki Photo yesterday and calibrated.  Things look great but with these prints I have here for this photographer that likes to take real dark images, this trick works great.  Thanks!

Then fix the issue (see:

Let's look at this logically:

 We have a document who's data may be too dark, too light, too magenta etc. We've had techniques for lightening dark images since version 1.0 of Photoshop. The 'issue' isn't that we can or cannot lighten an image. The issue is, why and where in the process? Is the data really containing numbers that represent a dark image or is the image OK and the print really is too dark. Big friggin difference in this issue and workflow and the fix!

Let's look at Matt's concepts again. He says he calibrates his display and his prints are too dark. I see this issue being caused by one or more of the following and the fixes are attributed to the problem.

1. He shoots JPEG and can't figure out proper exposure so his images are under exposed (too dark). Why doesn't one see this on a calibrated display and fix the capture? Is it possible he doesn't see that his images are indeed too dark? Then learn not to under expose. Learn to properly calibrate his display so it doesn't look 'normal' when the data is dark. Dark captures should look dark on screen.

2. He shoots raw and can't figure out proper exposure so his images are again under exposed (kiss of death for raw if noise and image quality is important). We still don't know why he doesn't see this. If he did, the fix at this point is use something like Exposure in ACR/LR (we all know Matt would not use a non Adobe raw processor). Then learn not to under expose. Learn to properly calibrate his display so it doesn't look 'normal' when the data is dark. Same as #1.

3. Capture is fine. Display is showing image far brighter than print, print looks dark(er) in caparison. The URL above goes into the reasons for why and how to fix it. Raise print viewing conditions. Lower display luminance. Get a match!

Does print still look too dark? Yes: Something is off sending data to printer. No: Print is not properly illuminated. HOW does lightening the document data fix this problem? It doesn't. The print may look fine but if the issue was low illumination on the print, it will look too light when moved elsewhere. And you still have this disconnect between display and printer. Fix is easy, calibrate the display for a match.

Let's take this out of the display+print making+Photoshop environment. Let's suppose you had a lens that always shot 1 stop under what was ideal exposure. Would you have that one lens fixed so it acts like the others and produces proper exposure OR would you just apply 1 stop more lightening in processing? That might be analog or digital development but the 'fix' is the same kludge as using any Photoshop technique that lightens an image that isn't too dark solely for a print that looks too dark. A print is either too dark or it isn't but might appear that way if improperly illuminated (how's the best Adams print look lit with a 6W nightlight bulb?).

In Matt's somewhat confused world of color management, he thinks he's calibrating his display (at least he tells us he does) yet his display lies to him and he fixes the document. Am I missing something or is this a pretty messed up way of looking at and fixing a problem? If we didn't have displays or ways to calibrate them, his workflow would make a lot more sense. With the tools we have today, it makes virtually no sense. Don't fall into this simplistic mideset of problem solving. You have just edited an image who's data is OK to fix something else causing a print that looks too dark.

You'd think an Photoshop guru like this would have a handle on reading histograms and numbers plus have a calibrated display that matches what he prints. If you had to process an image and your tools for doing so were: a properly calibrated and profiled display, a group of RGB numbers and a Histogram, which do you think would be the best to understand if the image were too dark or too light among many other image attributes you might want to alter? All three are useful One is really far more useful in terms of rendering a print*. It seems Matt and others are using none and then don't recognize of the document data or the print processing and viewing are causing a problem.

Andrew Rodney
Author “Color Management for Photographers”


  • Newbie
  • *
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 4
Re: My print is too dark - and I *have* calibrated and profiled
« Reply #42 on: Today at 05:25:29 AM »

This is an excellent thread. It is over 3 years old. But still, I like to add a comment:
Back in the 60´s, my father would use slide film because prints were too expensive. So we got used looking at slides in a dark room, eventually using a marvelous 250 watt Leica slide projector. One would never look at a print after such an experience and I gradually gave up on printing. (I would be interested to know if there is any digital projector technology that would quality match those analog projections. The Leica projector did cost 500 USD in the 80´s). For me, this changed with the appearance of Cibachrome. Now one could get a halfway decent print from slides. It worked well for those saturated colors from places like Yosemite Valley but was tough for getting the midnight sun over Norwegian snowfields correctly. Eventually, I discovered Cibachrome transparent film, which gave “slides” that were out of this world for contrast (for out of this world prices). Human color perception seems to be much more tolerant to a backlight image than to a printed one, so even my slightly tainted examples looked good on transparencies. (They always looked great when projected in a dark room, no matter what the color taint was).
All this happened almost 40 years ago. I then turned to negative film where one never saw how good a photo would have looked liked like it if were a slide. I was happy with those photos for documenting the family.  About 10 years ago, I started digitized negatives for archiving and, of course, played with digital cameras. While watching those photos on a screen, I thought that now I have it all. Slide like quality and a way to display it. Over times, I bought four screens for the house and have photos displayed there. I bought a Sony TV for the living room just for photos, no TV signal connected.
Sure, I also make prints and, yes, I have posted something like “why are my prints too dark”. Sure, they are too dark because the screen is too good. That is fine, photos look better on a screen anyway. And times will come when we will be able to buy large UHD or XUHD OLED displays costing the same as 10 large prints. Moreover, all other photos will be looked at on OLED type tablets.
In the meantime, I do adjust my screen to 90 cd/m2 to adjust photos for printing and that sort of works. As somebody pointed out, soft proofing is for colors and not for exposure on paper. And when I do order the most expensive Whitewall print it does almost look like on my screen. I still believe that the industry should think about a soft proofing standard that allows for a quick check how a print would look like even if the screen still is adjusted to 140 cd/m2 or more. That seems not to be available unless one has a digital interface that enables the computer to control the brightness of a screen. I do not know if that exists.
Pages: 1 2 [3]   Go Up