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Author Topic: My print is too dark - and I *have* calibrated and profiled  (Read 9088 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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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”
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