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Author Topic: My print is too dark - and I *have* calibrated and profiled  (Read 16882 times)

bill t.

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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.


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digitaldog

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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: http://www.luminous-landscape.com/tutorials/why_are_my_prints_too_dark.shtml)

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.

*http://wwwimages.adobe.com/www.adobe.com/products/photoshop/family/prophotographer/pdfs/pscs3_renderprint.pdf
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JoachimStrobel

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Re: My print is too dark - and I *have* calibrated and profiled
« Reply #42 on: February 10, 2016, 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.
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Slobodan Blagojevic

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Re: My print is too dark - and I *have* calibrated and profiled
« Reply #43 on: February 10, 2016, 06:43:40 PM »

... 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...

Ha! Funny you mentioned that. This is what I wrote four years ago in another thread.

Quote
I was in a furniture store the other day and noticed they are using flat-TVs to display images of their collections, kind of slide show. Then it hit me: how long before the price of a TV equates the price of framing a print? At this point, printing and framing a 24x36 print would cost between $200 and $300, give or take. The same dimension TV is 43" diagonally and they are currently already close to that, i.e., around $400-$500. Wait for a deal, and you just might get it for the price of framing a single print.

Add to the equation that, for the purpose of displaying photos only, the TV may be stripped of all other features, kind of a giant photo frame, and you can see how close the prices will converge.

And that is all in comparison to ONE framed print. A TV can display gazillion of them. Imagine the problem most people have with large prints on their walls: they do not have enough walls! Let alone the effect of getting used to seeing the same print day in, day out, to the point of becoming oblivious to it.

Add to the equation that most photographs look better on screen than in print (contrast ratio, reflecting vs. emitting light, etc.).

Finally, here comes Retina display, to address the most common argument in favor of print: resolution. Retina display already matches and surpasses ppi of most prints.

Most of todays gazillion photographs, dare I say 99.9 % of it, will never, ever be printed. People are already content with showing it on Flickr, Facebook or emailing it, watching it on their phones, computers and iPads.

And that is all happening already today. For tomorrow, no wonder I feel the print is dead, for all but the selected few.

EDIT: Shall I add that Kodak was betting its future on printing... we know the outcome.

Not everyone agreed with me, of course, and you can see several good arguments pro and contra in the thread.

JoachimStrobel

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Re: My print is too dark - and I *have* calibrated and profiled
« Reply #44 on: February 11, 2016, 06:04:54 PM »

Thanks for the link to that thread. This is good reading. Today I also read that this website is all about prints - so this subject will be difficult to argue.
The human eye sees red-green-blue and can handle a high contrast. So a screen should come naturally. With a screen one gets used to not seeing all colors because of the sRGB space. That may be a bad thing. I noticed that a lot a H&M t-shirts have out of sRGB space colors which makes them look attractive to me now.

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Jimmy D Uptain

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Re: My print is too dark - and I *have* calibrated and profiled
« Reply #45 on: February 14, 2016, 09:49:56 AM »

I have the same monitor.
However I use SpectraView II software.
Anyway 140 cd does seem high. Mine is set at 90cd and prints are a much closer match.
Plus its a lot easier on the eyes 8)
I did notice that the Delta E was a bit higher with the lower intensity, but then found a setting (Extended luminance stabilization time) that solved that little problem.
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luxborealis

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Re: My print is too dark - and I *have* calibrated and profiled
« Reply #46 on: February 14, 2016, 04:35:12 PM »

Wow - I just spent the day printing with LR 6 on a 2011 glossy 15" MacBook Pro, an Epson 3880 on 13x19" MAOB Entrada Rag Natural and
  • NO colour matching/profiling of my monitor;
  • NO colour matching/profiling of my paper beyond the MOAB-created profile;
  • NO special lighting booth - just the reality of my living room with indirect sunlight and incandescent;
  • NO soft-proofing;

In the whole day I made 3 test strips 2¼" wide. Is it magic? NO! It's all about...
  • setting the develop module background to white;
  • thoughtfully comparing how it looks in the Print module with even more white around the image;
  • making a few thoughtful test strips; and
  • LEARNING WHAT TO EXPECT OF YOUR EQUIPMENT AND MATERIALS.

Blindly following a technical recipe without looking, thinking, comparing and learning will result in less-than-ideal prints. Once you learn what your system does, you will be amazed at how simple it can be. It's unrealistic to expect a backlit digital screen to perfectly represent a front lit print and vice versa.

Try tilting your monitor slightly - the tonal relationships change. Try standing and looking at your monitor instead of sitting - again different tonal relationships. Try looking at your print in a gallery, at a friend's house, in your hallway, in your living room - all will have different colour and tonal relationships depending on the mix and brightness of the lighting. Which one is "correct"? All of them because that's the reality of the situation.

Photographers are OVER-OBSESSED with this. Do you think watercolour, oil or acrylic painters go through all this angst. OMG!!! No!! They will paint outside in the sunlight or shade or in a studio (I know, ideally with indirect light, but certainly not always) only to have their work shown in who knows what kind of lighting.

Go ahead, drive yourself crazy trying to match every colour in a print to the on-screen image. Who cares - it's what's on the wall that counts and the moment you move it from the living room to the bedroom it will be different because no one lights their home equally and evenly and to so many cd/m2 or to match some special print-viewing light source (not even all galleries).

Okay, rant over. I know you are only trying to be as exact as possible, but really, unless you're in product photography where exact colour matching is required, you'll be surprised at how well you do once you make a few test strips and learn your equipment and materials.
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Eric Myrvaagnes

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Re: My print is too dark - and I *have* calibrated and profiled
« Reply #47 on: February 14, 2016, 08:23:33 PM »

In the whole day I made 3 test strips 2¼" wide. Is it magic? NO! It's all about...
  • setting the develop module background to white;
  • thoughtfully comparing how it looks in the Print module with even more white around the image;
  • making a few thoughtful test strips; and
  • LEARNING WHAT TO EXPECT OF YOUR EQUIPMENT AND MATERIALS.
Sounds awfully reminiscent of what we used to do in the wet darkroom years ago.
Especially "LEARNING WHAT TO EXPECT OF YOUR EQUIPMENT AND MATERIALS.
 ;)
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kencameron

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Re: My print is too dark - and I *have* calibrated and profiled
« Reply #48 on: February 14, 2016, 09:07:24 PM »

It's unrealistic to expect a backlit digital screen to perfectly represent a front lit print and vice versa.
I have to say that taking on board this proposition has made printing a less stressful activity for me. Not an excuse for ignoring all the good advice that is available, including from several luminaries on this site. More about recognising something about how my own perceptual system actually works.
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Ken Cameron

digitaldog

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Re: My print is too dark - and I *have* calibrated and profiled
« Reply #49 on: February 14, 2016, 09:10:30 PM »

It's unrealistic to expect a backlit digital screen to perfectly represent a front lit print and vice versa.
It is only unrealistic to expect it if someone promised you that and you believed them. If someone promised you that with soft proofing, you were lied to.
It's unrealistic to expect a transparency to perfectly represent a printed piece in book or magazine, no matter the time and money spent, and vice versa.
Didn't stop some of us from using product A to produce product B.
IF anyone promised you magic, you were again lied to.
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Simon Garrett

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Re: My print is too dark - and I *have* calibrated and profiled
« Reply #50 on: February 15, 2016, 07:54:03 AM »

Wow - I just spent the day printing with LR 6 on a 2011 glossy 15" MacBook Pro...

Try tilting your monitor slightly - the tonal relationships change. Try standing and looking at your monitor instead of sitting - again different tonal relationships.

If the tonal relationships change when you move viewing position then this sounds like you don't have an IPS screen.  I don't know what screens Macbooks had in 2011, but if not IPS then you're quite right that colour will change with viewing position, and there's very little point in colour management. 

On a good quality IPS monitor, the tonal relationships do not change when you move viewing position. 
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luxborealis

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Re: My print is too dark - and I *have* calibrated and profiled
« Reply #51 on: February 15, 2016, 11:19:59 PM »

If the tonal relationships change when you move viewing position then this sounds like you don't have an IPS screen.  I don't know what screens Macbooks had in 2011, but if not IPS then you're quite right that colour will change with viewing position, and there's very little point in colour management. 

On a good quality IPS monitor, the tonal relationships do not change when you move viewing position.

It is a rare monitor that does not alter tonal values with changes in angles. You can bet most users of colour-matching and profiling hardware-software do not also have "IPS" monitors!

But the point of what I was saying is more to do with the impossibility of controlling every last nuance of colour and tone when a simple change in print location from one room to another throws all the obsessive colour matching out the window. An IPS monitor will get you close, but move the framed print from a neutral hallway to bright room painted yellow and you can throw colour matching out the window.

Colour matching is not useless, but obsessing over it is.
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Doug Gray

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Re: My print is too dark - and I *have* calibrated and profiled
« Reply #52 on: February 16, 2016, 12:21:46 AM »

It is a rare monitor that does not alter tonal values with changes in angles. You can bet most users of colour-matching and profiling hardware-software do not also have "IPS" monitors!

But the point of what I was saying is more to do with the impossibility of controlling every last nuance of colour and tone when a simple change in print location from one room to another throws all the obsessive colour matching out the window. An IPS monitor will get you close, but move the framed print from a neutral hallway to bright room painted yellow and you can throw colour matching out the window.

Colour matching is not useless, but obsessing over it is.

The point of color management is to control what you print so that it is consistent. For instance if you print an image of a colorchecker, it will look exactly like a real colorchecker if your print process is correctly set up. You can take that print and a real colorchecker into another room with different lighting and they will still look the same. Profiling a monitor is just a way to work in a specific lighting and it can be set to match whatever your favorite environment is within a pretty large variation. 
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Rhossydd

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Re: My print is too dark - and I *have* calibrated and profiled
« Reply #53 on: February 16, 2016, 05:54:27 AM »

It is a rare monitor that does not alter tonal values with changes in angles.
I haven't used a monitor that displays that sort of unacceptable behaviour for 15 years, even my laptop has an IPS screen.
All the other serious photographers I know use decent screens, so I think you may be a little out of touch about how widely decent monitors are used.

It continually amazes me that people spend big amounts on camera kit, computers, printers, software and then compromise on one of the most important bits of kit, the monitor. Good monitors aren't hugely expensive, why work with second rate kit ?

No wonder you don't 'get' colour management if you can't see colour properly on your monitor. As others have said, it provides the consistency that eliminates blundering about having to make test strips.
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GWGill

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Re: My print is too dark - and I *have* calibrated and profiled
« Reply #54 on: February 16, 2016, 07:31:41 AM »

But the point of what I was saying is more to do with the impossibility of controlling every last nuance of colour and tone when a simple change in print location from one room to another throws all the obsessive colour matching out the window.
Appearance changes with viewing and lighting conditions can be allowed for in the color management process if you wish to, and if you are using a sufficiently flexible system. (See CIECAM02).
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digitaldog

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Re: My print is too dark - and I *have* calibrated and profiled
« Reply #55 on: February 16, 2016, 10:40:31 AM »

The point of color management is to control what you print so that it is consistent.
I'd suggest that color management is number management, giving (in most cases) a triplet of numerical values, a meaning based on a color colorimetry and color perception. However, colorimetry is about color perception. It is not about color appearance.
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Andrew Rodney
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Simon Garrett

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Re: My print is too dark - and I *have* calibrated and profiled
« Reply #56 on: February 16, 2016, 05:55:51 PM »

It is a rare monitor that does not alter tonal values with changes in angles. You can bet most users of colour-matching and profiling hardware-software do not also have "IPS" monitors!

I don't think this is true. 

I am sure that most of those that use colour management (that is, calibrating and profiling their monitors and using colour-managed software) will use IPS screens.  Any book, article, Q&A, FAQ, blog or whatever about colour management includes advice to choose an IPS monitor.  The large majority of good-quality screens are IPS (or similar technology), even moderately priced ones (except laptops, most of which are not IPS). 

The point (for me) of colour management is not about obsessing over colour.  Colour management means that you have a controlled, consistent way of viewing images.  It reduces the sources of error, reduces the variability, and reduces the "why the heck did it come out that colour" moments.  Far from needing test strips, more often than not prints come out right first time.  What you see on the screen (perhaps with a quick check of soft proofing) gives you a reliable indication of what the print will look like without trial and error. 

It just makes the workflow quicker and easier. 
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Doug Gray

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Re: My print is too dark - and I *have* calibrated and profiled
« Reply #57 on: February 17, 2016, 11:19:58 AM »

I don't think this is true. 

I am sure that most of those that use colour management (that is, calibrating and profiling their monitors and using colour-managed software) will use IPS screens.  Any book, article, Q&A, FAQ, blog or whatever about colour management includes advice to choose an IPS monitor.  The large majority of good-quality screens are IPS (or similar technology), even moderately priced ones (except laptops, most of which are not IPS). 

The point (for me) of colour management is not about obsessing over colour.  Colour management means that you have a controlled, consistent way of viewing images.  It reduces the sources of error, reduces the variability, and reduces the "why the heck did it come out that colour" moments.  Far from needing test strips, more often than not prints come out right first time.  What you see on the screen (perhaps with a quick check of soft proofing) gives you a reliable indication of what the print will look like without trial and error. 

It just makes the workflow quicker and easier.

Exactly!  It's like painting a drywall patch. Painters that use suppliers with good "color management" usually get better, and faster results.
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luxborealis

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Re: My print is too dark - and I *have* calibrated and profiled
« Reply #58 on: February 20, 2016, 05:31:10 PM »

Exactly!  It's like painting a drywall patch. Painters that use suppliers with good "color management" usually get better, and faster results.

Can't get much better or faster results than doing what I'm doing: one or two 2" test strips followed by a fine print (but preceded by learning my equipment and materials, not through trial and error, but through thoughtful looking and responding, instead of relying on technology to solve the problem).

What responders don't seem to understand is there is another way that's not based on a technological fix, but on looking and learning and applying. It doesn't work for everyone; all I'm saying is that you don't need to reach for the Colour-Munki or Spyder to get great, repeatable results.

It's similar to the difference between standard and automatic; guess which one I drive, despite living in North America?! We will both get to the same place at the same time, but guess who will have more fun along the way as well as the added pleasure in knowing they were an active part of the decision-making?
« Last Edit: February 20, 2016, 05:34:40 PM by luxborealis »
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digitaldog

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Re: My print is too dark - and I *have* calibrated and profiled
« Reply #59 on: February 20, 2016, 06:50:22 PM »

What responders don't seem to understand is there is another way that's not based on a technological fix, but on looking and learning and applying.
Heck, you don't a lick of need color management, or even a color display, if your goal is a print and you can make as many as necessary until you reach your goal.
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