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Author Topic: fine art reproduction setup, kind of old, could use suggestions  (Read 4888 times)

ComputerDork

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fine art reproduction setup, kind of old, could use suggestions
« on: September 05, 2015, 12:34:16 AM »

Greetings!

I'm trying to help out a local shop with their fine art reproduction setup. They seem to have purchased it as a kit from an integrator about 8-10 years ago. It consists of a Phase One P30 back, mamiya camera body, 80mm lens, pro photo strobes with soft boxes, a power Mac running os x 10.4, Capture One 4.x, and PhotoShop CS2. For some reason they have a 24 patch color checker chart but don't seem to have any camera profiling software. They print to an Epson 44" UltraChrome K3 based printer (I forget the exact model). Other than the lack of camera profiling this seems like a respectable setup even with its age.

The guy who previously did their fine art reproduction seems to have been doing color management manually in his head and not surprisingly nobody there understood any of the magic formulae he tried to communicate before he left.

I'm a bit frustrated with the fact that they're using older versions of software than what I'm familiar with, and the lack of automated color management in this situation. (I've taken my own photos, processed, and printed them but never tried to precisely replicate an existing piece of artwork until now.) Fortunately they do have tools to calibrate the monitor and the printer, but my biggest problem is matching the original to the print, not the screen to the printer.

Some questions:

1) I tried creating a profile with the color checker camera calibration application only to remember after doing so that it only creates DNG profiles and CaptureOne (even the latest version I think) requires its own sort of ICC camera profile. Short of dealing with stuff like Argyll CMS and DCamProf, is there anything I can do to profile the camera/lighting setup for C1 without recommending purchasing additional software? If I did recommend camera profiling software, what would it be and would it run on an old PowerPC based Mac? Should I even worry about this or just use the P30 Flash profile that comes with C1?

2) When using C1, I'm unsure if I should use the Film Standard or Linear response curve. One seems to result in too much saturation/contrast and the other too little.

3) I also attempted to export an image from C1 in DNG format but the version of ACR on the system wouldn't let me select a DNG profile other than the embedded profile :(

4) if this color checker chart is 8+ years old, does it need replacement anyway?

5) Can anyone point me to any fine art reproduction tutorials or information using similar setups?

6) What is realistically achievable here according to the limits of technology? For example, if I have a watercolor on off-white paper am I ever going to be able to match the off white color of the paper with an ink jet printer?

I hesitate to suggest too many upgrades or additional purchases because they aren't servicing too much demand in this area at the moment. (Most of their businesses is printing large jobs on oversized paper, rigid media, decals, etc, using a variety of large and specialized digital printing equipment.) I don't think the owner is totally adverse to upgrading software and such if it will help increase efficiency and get this part of the business back on track, but I certainly don't want to suggest anything that won't be useful.

Any advice anyone could offer would be extremely appreciated. I thought I had learned some stuff about color management but trying to match an original artwork to printer output is exceedingly difficult (and not possible to do perfectly under all lighting conditions due to metemerism anyway).
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BobShaw

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Re: fine art reproduction setup, kind of old, could use suggestions
« Reply #1 on: September 05, 2015, 03:50:56 AM »

The camera and printer should be fine but I think a power mac at 10.4 is going to be pretty limiting software wise. You are 10 years behind.
If you get an Intel machine you can run the old software in a VMware window if you need to. The new iMac is great.
If the printer uses K3 it will probably have late drivers. Just check the latest compatibility on the OS and install that.

Capture One is free for a Phase back so then you can be up to the latest.
I found the colour checker to be useless also. It is really Lightroom only. So I got the SpyderCheckR.
I profiled my Hasselblad and found very little difference, so really you should be fairly close anyway.
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D Fosse

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Re: fine art reproduction setup, kind of old, could use suggestions
« Reply #2 on: September 05, 2015, 07:15:44 AM »

Although I do this for a living (but for offset printed publications, not inkjet), I try to stay out of these discussions because there really is no formula. Electrons and pigments just don't behave in the same way.

You just cannot expect a perfect colorimetric match between original and reproduction, and the sooner you give up trying the more effective and productive you can get. If you try, the result will likely end up falling apart with no internal consistency. Camera profiling IMO doesn't work here. I've tried, and always end up with the standard camera profile, using studio flash units.

What you need to do is aim for equivalent color, not identical. You need to keep the internal logic intact. The eye adapts wonderfully and will accept that as a faithful reproduction. This is why

Quote
The guy who previously did their fine art reproduction seems to have been doing color management manually in his head

This doesn't mean throwing everything to the wind. I do include a color checker, but mostly using the gray patches to keep tabs on general contrast and brightness. I start out with the standard Lab values for each patch, and tweak as required (and it always is).

Monitor calibration is critical. You absolutely need to know that what you see is what you get. Set white and black points with extreme care, and if possible keep different targets for different output.

If you do that, matching an off-white paper should be the simple part.
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Mark D Segal

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Re: fine art reproduction setup, kind of old, could use suggestions
« Reply #3 on: September 05, 2015, 08:51:28 AM »

I would add that the viewing conditions of the original media (colour temperature of the illumination and the surrounding environment) relative to the brightness, contrast and colour temperature of your display are pretty critical. This means knowing what those viewing conditions are (preferably perhaps working in them for a bit to get the idea), and very, very good calibration of a high quality photographic monitor. Once you get the files into Lightroom, making use of the HSB sliders in the HSB panel will help you adjust the hue, saturation and brightness of the individual colour groups in a manner bespoke to each such that the overall impression will be credible. I use the word "credible" in lieu of "accurate", because I agree with others here that "accurate" is a very improbable objective.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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professorbalrog

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Re: fine art reproduction setup, kind of old, could use suggestions
« Reply #4 on: September 05, 2015, 12:10:37 PM »

I would check the DCamProf discussion that's going on specifically because you mentioned capture one, I have had a lot of problems with color accuracy (relative or absolute, however you want to pitch it) when shooting paintings. I agree that you'll never get an exact match but when my blues are 2 stops lighter than they should be using the built-in camera profile it's a problem. The author just posted a "how-to" specifically for capture one:

http://www.ludd.ltu.se/~torger/photography/camera-profiling.html#the_easy_way_c1
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ComputerDork

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Re: fine art reproduction setup, kind of old, could use suggestions
« Reply #5 on: September 07, 2015, 10:54:47 PM »

Part of the problem seems to be that they don't have any proofing lights. The only light sources are the modeling lights on the strobe heads and some fluorescent tubes of unknown quality that I suspect are around 6500K but are probably nothing special in spectral distribution (probably still have a large green spike). So I can calibrate the monitor to 6500K but the light quality for comparison isn't that great.

To make things worse, their capture studio is in a very confined space. With large artwork it would be much easier to have the monitor facing the same direction as the frame holder with some Solux bulbs for illumination, but there's too little space. That way comparisons could be made without moving anything. Track lights are pretty cheap but the main problem is the confined space they have. They could probably use a black curtain to block out other light from entering the little nook they have so it doesn't affect the comparison, but the light is kind of dim in that area anyway so maybe it doesn't matter too much.

I'm having no luck finding any books or tutorials specific to art reproduction, so I feel like I'm having to reinvent the wheel here. While I've processed my own photos, and calibrated monitors and printers, trying to exactly match a reflective original to a printout is totally new to me.
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Lundberg02

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Re: fine art reproduction setup, kind of old, could use suggestions
« Reply #6 on: September 10, 2015, 02:18:26 AM »

Probably the hardest job in imaging
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