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Author Topic: Soft Proofing Matte Paper  (Read 734 times)

rabanito

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Soft Proofing Matte Paper
« on: January 26, 2019, 04:21:30 am »

I'm learning to print.
Until now I tried my hand with "photo" inks and am satisfied with the progress I'm making.
When soft proofing for, say, Epson, or Harman glossy papers, I get a copy to work on that is similar to the original.
Some blue too much, some contrast, some work to do but usually I manage (I try to adjust the Proof Preview so that it looks like the original)
No serious problems here.

But when I tried a matte paper, in this case Photo Rag von Hahnemühle, I have problems I don't know how to tackle

Usually I begin looking for the biggest problem and correcting it. Then I correct the smaller ones in descending order.
In this case the biggest one (IMO) is some kind of veil all over the picture (s.attached picture), kind of haze. For instance the shadows get grayish and I cannot bring them back.
I would like to clear this atmosphere first and then look for the other issues.
I have no idea how to begin, which tools to try first.
Or maybe it is just not possible with this kind of papers?

I consulted my books and the web but softproofing is treated in a general way.

Maybe somebody can recommend  some literature or tutorials or has experience and give advice?

Before trying this I re-calibrated my monitor. Am using an Epson R2880 with matte black ink (I don't expect this to have any influence on this subject but anyway...)
The profile I used for this is HFA_Eps2880_MK_PhotoRag

As told at the beginning, I am a newbie on color management and the rest.
Corrections (even harsh ones  :)  ) are welcome
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mcbroomf

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Re: Soft Proofing Matte Paper
« Reply #1 on: January 26, 2019, 06:03:03 am »

You have no blacks in the image.  Look at the left foot of the histogram, it is well above a deep black level.  Use the black slider in the Basic panel to anchor the left foot at zero to begin with.  This may deepen/muddy your shadows too much to your taste, if so use the shadow slider to recover, or the tone curve if you're comfortable using it.  I think this will get you most of the way but you can also play with clarity and dehaze (which will tweak your colours a little)
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Mark D Segal

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Re: Soft Proofing Matte Paper
« Reply #2 on: January 26, 2019, 08:39:51 am »

............

But when I tried a matte paper, in this case Photo Rag von Hahnemühle, I have problems I don't know how to tackle

...............
I have no idea how to begin, which tools to try first.
Or maybe it is just not possible with this kind of papers?

................
Corrections (even harsh ones  :)  ) are welcome

The problem you raise and the comparison photo you show are normal. Matte papers have lower reflectance than luster/gloss papers, therefore Black density is not as great and without treatment that fools the eyes the contrast looks inadequate. You cannot get more blackness from the paper/ink combination than it is capable of delivering. Hahn Photo Rag is one of the better ones and their profile wouldn't be much better or worse than a custom profile when it comes to the tonal range of the grayscale. The basic strategy you need to operate is to maximize tonal separation/contrast within the lower quartertones from the paper's Black point upward, with softproof active. There are several ways of doing this:

(1) Adjust shadows and blacks so that the histogram does not spike at the left side - if it spikes, you are compressing black tones. Sometimes you want to do that for achieving more contrast, but beware that you lose deep shadow detail. If anything, err a bit on going slightly grayer than blacker at the lower end of the tone scale in anticipation of the next step.
(2) Increase Contrast and Clarity to the point that both improve but without excessive shadow compression at the left side of the histogram.
(3) Combined with or instead of (1) and (2), use the Tone Curve. If you steepen it from the lower end to about the middle, you will increase tonal separation and contrast. To control how much the tone curve remaps tones up the scale, you can begin by creating a 10-point lock-down curve and save it as a preset. It means fixing stops (buttons) at every ten level increase up the curve from bottom to top (put the cursor on the curve at the desired spot and click), save it as a Tone Curve Preset because you will re-use it. Then adjust each point upward moving from the second to last up to about the middle or a bit beyond until you get the tonal separation and contrast appearance that pleases you. It will vary from one photo to the next. The slope of the curve should not be changed too abruptly from one stop to the next otherwise you risk posterizing the effect.
(4) Sometimes, adding a bit of Dehaze puts clarity on steroids and helps, but this needs to be approached very carefully because used to excess it can quickly make a mess. A slight bit of it adds a bit of density to the deep shadows while slightly brightening the grayer tones.
(5) If working with colour images, adding a bit of Vibrance can help.
(6) It can be that increasing exposure a bit gives you more headroom for increasing contrast/tonal separation without creating tonal compression in the deep quartertones.
(7) Another adjustment that often helps add contrast and separate tones is to lighten Shadows (rightward shift) and darken Blacks (leftward shift).

Try some of this and let us know how it works.
« Last Edit: January 26, 2019, 09:35:01 pm by Mark D Segal »
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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Rand47

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Re: Soft Proofing Matte Paper
« Reply #3 on: January 26, 2019, 10:49:29 am »

The problem you raise and the comparison photo you show are normal. Matte papers have lower reflectance than luster/gloss papers, therefore Black density is not as great and without treatment that fools the eyes the contrast looks inadequate. You cannot get more blackness from the paper/ink combination than it is capable of delivering. Hahn Photo Rag is one of the better ones and their profile wouldn't be much better or worse than a custom profile when it comes to the tonal range of the grayscale. The basic strategy you need to operate is to maximize tonal separation/contrast within the lower quartertones from the paper's Black point upward, with softproof active. There are several ways of doing this:

(1) Adjust shadows and blacks so that the histogram does not spike at the left side - if it spikes, you are compressing black tones. Sometimes you want to do that for achieving more contrast, but beware that you lose deep shadow detail. If anything, err a bit on going slightly grayer than blacker at the lower end of the tone scale in anticipation of the next step.
(2) Increase Contrast and Clarity to the point that both improve but without excessive shadow compression at the left side of the histogram.
(3) Combined with or instead of (1) and (2), use the Tone Curve. If you steepen it from the lower end to about the middle, you will increase tonal separation and contrast. To control how much the tone curve remaps tones up the scale, you can begin by creating a 10-point lock-down curve and save it as a preset. It means fixing stops (buttons) at every ten level increase up the curve from bottom to top (put the cursor on the curve at the desired spot and click), save it as a Tone Curve Preset because you will re-use it. Then adjust each point upward moving from the second to last up to about the middle or a bit beyond until you get the tonal separation and contrast appearance that pleases you. It will vary from one photo to the next. The slope of the curve should not be changed too abruptly from one stop to the next otherwise you risk posterizing the effect.
(4) Sometimes, adding a bit of Dehaze puts clarity on steroids and helps, but this needs to be approached very carefully because used to excess it can quickly make a mess. A slight bit of it adds a bit of density to the deep shadows while slightly brightening the grayer tones.
(5) If working with colour images, adding a bit of Vibrance can help.
(6) It can be that increasing exposure a bit gives you more headroom for increasing contrast/tonal separation without creating tonal compression in the deep quartertones.

Try some of this and let us know how it works.

What Mark said!  This comports perfectly with my experience with matte papers.  AND, remember the black density on the actual print will be MUCH better than the soft proof virtual copy on your screen.  It just can't "do blacks" very well.  Mark's cautions about not crushing the blacks in the soft proof are important, too.  Anything dark with an L value below about 7-8 will print black w/ no detail.  I've found it "too easy" to try to get the black density to "look good" on the proof copy (where because of the transmissive nature of the monitor I can still see some detail) only to find that I've actually gone too far and crushed the detail out of the shadows "in the actual print."

Rand
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Rand Scott Adams

rabanito

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Re: Soft Proofing Matte Paper
« Reply #4 on: January 26, 2019, 02:11:30 pm »

Mike, Mark, Rand thank you very much!!!

I've tried your advice and it looks like it is what I needed.
Thank you for getting me started
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Mark D Segal

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Re: Soft Proofing Matte Paper
« Reply #5 on: January 26, 2019, 09:36:04 pm »

I added a 7th step to reply #2 above - came back to mind as I was working on some photos this evening.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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rabanito

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Re: Soft Proofing Matte Paper
« Reply #6 on: January 27, 2019, 04:26:15 am »

I added a 7th step to reply #2 above - came back to mind as I was working on some photos this evening.
Thank you again, Mark

While working on those photos I tried the following
I put all sliders to black (-100)
I sled the tone curve also to black (sliders to the right)
and Exposure to -5.00 - Just in case :)

The picture went black.
I read RGB values from the Histogram

The original photo  gave 0,0,0

The soft proof at the same place gave
Glossy : 8,6,2
Matte:   0,6,14


I presume that that is just the way it is with the papers?
You mentioned this already.
"Matte papers have lower reflectance than luster/gloss papers, therefore Black density is not as great and without treatment that fools the eyes the contrast looks inadequate. You cannot get more blackness from the paper/ink combination than it is capable of delivering. "


« Last Edit: January 27, 2019, 04:31:35 am by rabanito »
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Mark D Segal

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Re: Soft Proofing Matte Paper
« Reply #7 on: January 27, 2019, 08:45:15 am »

Best to make sure your display is properly profiled and calibrated, that the Luminance level is low enough to properly portray what the print will look like, and from there be guided by the histogram and what you see on the display with softproof active.
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Slobodan Blagojevic

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Re: Soft Proofing Matte Paper
« Reply #8 on: January 27, 2019, 10:22:45 am »

When I tried matte, after using luster/gloss papers, I found a much simpler solurion: throw it away.

Mark D Segal

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Re: Soft Proofing Matte Paper
« Reply #9 on: January 27, 2019, 11:10:49 am »

When I tried matte, after using luster/gloss papers, I found a much simpler solurion: throw it away.

For the kind of photos you display on your website (nice work BTW), I can understand where you are coming from; but as a general proposition: No. Different kinds of photos do well with different paper types, and part of the "artsy" side of printing is knowing what photos do best with which kind of papers. There are even photos for which blocked-up shadows actually add impact, so I'd be careful about blanket condemnation of matte paper, but then again you're not me.............
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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rabanito

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Re: Soft Proofing Matte Paper
« Reply #10 on: January 27, 2019, 11:21:11 am »

Different kinds of photos do well with different paper types, and part of the "artsy" side of printing is knowing what photos do best with which kind of papers.

I agree with that.
I'll know when I'd done my best.

AND: Through all these difficulties I'm having I for one am learning a lot - not only printing - and it's fun.
Every (good) paper deserves a chance  :)
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digitaldog

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Re: Soft Proofing Matte Paper
« Reply #11 on: January 27, 2019, 12:50:11 pm »

For the kind of photos you display on your website (nice work BTW), I can understand where you are coming from; but as a general proposition: No. Different kinds of photos do well with different paper types, and part of the "artsy" side of printing is knowing what photos do best with which kind of papers. There are even photos for which blocked-up shadows actually add impact, so I'd be careful about blanket condemnation of matte paper, but then again you're not me.............
Of course, and the generalization about matte paper was rather silly.
I recall doing a workshop with Art Wolfe a few years ago. He was working on a lovely seascape image and wanted to print out in his studio/gallery we were working in. It was a B&W and initially I suggested we try printing on a luster like paper due to deep blacks (my snap from an iPhone doesn't do the image justice but should provide an idea of the subject matter). Art didn't like it initially and suggested we try a matte paper. His instincts were spot on; the print on Matt was clearly a better option. And thanks to Art, I got one of the prints framed to take home with me after our workshop. I learned not to jump to conclusions about papers, learned to allow each artists to test and come to their own conclusions and that their vision of rendering a print is usually the best course of action.
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Mark D Segal

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Re: Soft Proofing Matte Paper
« Reply #12 on: January 27, 2019, 12:53:46 pm »

That photo is a great example and exactly what I was getting at.
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HSakols

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Re: Soft Proofing Matte Paper
« Reply #13 on: January 28, 2019, 08:41:31 am »

Mark,
I'm so glad you are still on this forum.  Good stuff!
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virojarvi

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Re: Soft Proofing Matte Paper
« Reply #14 on: January 28, 2019, 09:53:18 am »

In some cases I add extra clarity to shadows only by adding a gradient outside the picture (zoom out first) so it fully covers the whole picture and use luminosity mask to apply it only to shadows. Used together with appropriate curve naturally. This allows to add shadow separation without affecting highlights.
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Mark D Segal

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Re: Soft Proofing Matte Paper
« Reply #15 on: January 28, 2019, 10:52:48 am »

Mark,
I'm so glad you are still on this forum.  Good stuff!

Thanks Hugh. Much appreciated.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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