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Author Topic: Processing images for outside printing service  (Read 1851 times)

GreggP

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Processing images for outside printing service
« on: January 04, 2020, 07:03:55 pm »

Awhile ago I sold my printer. I didn't print enough to justify the high cost of ink and photo papers. The model I owned, the Epson Photo Stylus R2400, has fairly small ink cartridges and they needed replacement pretty regularly, which was pretty expensive. I was probably wasting a lot of ink because infrequent use meant a lot of head cleaning.

I've decided to try sending my processed images to a local printing service and I'd like to learn the best strategy for processing my images before sending them off.

I shoot RAW and plan to export the images to TIFF before sending them to the printing service. I use a datacolor SpyderX to calibrate my display, which is capable of displaying almost 100% Adobe RGB. I do 90% of my post-processing in Lightroom. However, on the rare occasion that I printed something, which was several years ago when I wasn't using Lightroom, I used QIMAGE for printing. So I don't have any experience with printing from Lightroom but that probably doesn't matter since I'm using an outside service.

I've downloaded paper/ink profiles from the printing service and have loaded up these profiles in Lightroom's Develop module. I can then see what colors are out of gamut for each paper/ink profile using the Soft Proofing feature. Then I can use targeted adjustments to reduce the saturation of those out of gamut colors.

I can also use Lightroom to crop the image to the size I want for the frame and mat I plan to use. If I need white space around the image, instead of a mat, then I can export the TIFF and edit in Photoshop and use the Canvas command to add a border.

Is it a good idea to apply these targeted adjustments to the out-of-gamut colors? If so, which is better for this, Lightroom or Photoshop? With Photoshop, I can set the Proof Setup to my desired paper/ink profile and then activate 'Proof Colors' and 'Gamut Warning' to double-check if the colors are still in gamut.

Does it help to toggle paper/ink simulation on in Lightroom? I've read that those simulations aren't very reliable and many paper manufacturers say to leave it toggled off.

When I export the TIFF file from Lightroom, I can choose sRGB, Adobe RGB for ProPhoto RGB for the color space. I assume Lightroom does everything in ProPhoto, so i just set it to ProPhoto for the exported TIFF. If I edit the TIFF in Photoshop, which uses ProPhoto for the workspace, then I don't need to worry about any color conversion. After editing (like adding a border) and saving the TIFF image in Photoshop, the color space options are a little different. I noticed that in the color section near the bottom of the SAVE-AS dialog, there are 2 options. The first option is the "Use Proof Setup: 6400 Premier Photo Lustre Glossy...". The second option is "ICC Profile: ProPhotoRGB". The first option is grayed out. Why is it grayed out? If I choose another file type, like Photoshop PDF, the first option is available. If I check the "Use Proof Setup" option with PDF, then the ICC Profile lists the paper/ink profile. If I switch it back to TIFF, the ICC Profile is still showing the paper/ink profile.

What should I be using for the color space? The ICC profile (ProPhoto RGB) or the paper/ink profile?

Thanks in advance for any help!



digitaldog

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Re: Processing images for outside printing service
« Reply #1 on: January 04, 2020, 08:41:41 pm »

When I export the TIFF file from Lightroom, I can choose sRGB, Adobe RGB for ProPhoto RGB for the color space. I assume Lightroom does everything in ProPhoto, so i just set it to ProPhoto for the exported TIFF. If I edit the TIFF in Photoshop, which uses ProPhoto for the workspace, then I don't need to worry about any color conversion.
All processing takes place in a color gamut that's the size of ProPhoto RGB.
Ideally you'll send ProPhoto RGB converted to the printer's output space to the lab but will they accept that color space? Will they convert it (ugh) to sRGB? Not ideal.
Quote
What should I be using for the color space? The ICC profile (ProPhoto RGB) or the paper/ink profile?
The profile for the actual printer IF (big IF) they supply the profile and allow you to use it.
You really need to first find out what the lab accepts. Will they accept ProPhoto RGB? Will they allow you to convert from ProPhoto RGB to the output profile they supply? Will they (ugh) force you to convert to sRGB which is really sub optimal.
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NAwlins_Contrarian

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Ask the service
« Reply #2 on: January 04, 2020, 11:02:44 pm »

I've decided to try sending my processed images to a local printing service and I'd like to learn the best strategy for processing my images before sending them off.

I shoot RAW and plan to export the images to TIFF before sending them to the printing service.... When I export the TIFF file from Lightroom, I can choose sRGB, Adobe RGB for ProPhoto RGB for the color space.... If I edit the TIFF in Photoshop ... the color space options are a little different. I noticed that in the color section near the bottom of the SAVE-AS dialog, there are 2 options. The first option is the "Use Proof Setup: 6400 Premier Photo Lustre Glossy..."

You really need to ask the service what they will and will not accept. Most of them will not accept TIFFs, and instead insist on JPEGs. Likewise, many (maybe most) services only accept files in sRGB, although this service's making available profiles for their printer + paper combinations is a hopeful but not definitive sign otherwise. Some services provide profiles intended only for soft-proofing, and still expect you to submit your file in sRGB (or maybe give the the option of sRGB or Adobe RGB). Other services let you convert to their profile using the rendering intent of your choice and them submit the file in their profile. Often the service's website will answer these questions, but if not, ask them!

Also: you can use Lightroom's Print module to add white space etc.--just print to a JPEG (TIFF is not an option in the print module) instead of to a printer, and choose either one of its standard color working spaces (sRGB, Display P3, Adobe RGB, or ProPhoto RGB) or the ICC output profile of your choice. After you choose print to JPEG, you can set custom dimensions etc., which in conjunction with your cell size etc. establish the borders. Attached is a JPEG 'printed' from Lightroom, showing the vault where all the Lightroom secrets are kept, set to print on 11x14 inch paper at 300 ppi with a 1 inch border on each side, in Adobe RGB for good measure.

« Last Edit: January 04, 2020, 11:09:49 pm by NAwlins_Contrarian »
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GreggP

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Re: Processing images for outside printing service
« Reply #3 on: January 05, 2020, 02:19:24 pm »

The printing service prefers TIFFs.

They haven't really explained their preference for color space and I'll contact them tomorrow and ask about this.

Correct me if I'm wrong but isn't the purpose of using their ink/paper/printer profile, while using Lightroom or Photoshop, to soft proof your images? Isn't soft proofing a good way to see what colors from your image might be over-saturated? Then you can use targeted adjustments to pull the saturation of those colors down to something that will print, right?

Should I make those targeted adjustments or should I just rely on the printing services preferred method for adjusting those out of gamut colors (they prefer perceptual intent)?
Does it matter if those targeted adjustments are done in Lightroom or Photoshop?
When I save the final TIFF image in Photoshop, should I check one of the boxes for color? If I didn't check a box, what would happen?

Isn't the print service going to open up my TIFF image and apply the ICC profile when they print? Does it matter what color profile is embedded in the file (that is if the embedded profile is wider than the ICC profile but desaturated based on my soft proofing) if I already have adjusted the colors?

If I switch to PDF and back to TIFF, I can get it to use the proof setup ICC profile. What would be the advantage to this?

One other, sort of unrelated question... they refer to their service as "Fine Art Giclée Printing (https://www.picturesalon.com/home). They use inkjet printers. What's the difference between inkjet and giclée printing?

Sorry for all the questions... And thanks again for your help.
« Last Edit: January 05, 2020, 02:25:21 pm by GreggP »
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digitaldog

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Re: Processing images for outside printing service
« Reply #4 on: January 05, 2020, 02:22:54 pm »

The printing service prefers TIFFs.

They haven't really explained their preference for color space and I'll contact them tomorrow and ask about this.

Correct me if I'm wrong but isn't the purpose of using their ink/paper/printer profile, while using Lightroom or Photoshop, to soft proof your images? Isn't soft proofing a good way to see what colors from your image might be over-saturated? Then you can use targeted adjustments to pull the saturation of those colors down to something that will print, right?
Yes but the profile has to be one supplied that actually defines the conditions of the printer when it makes your print. And you need to pick a rendering intent just to soft proof meaning, does the lab allow you to use their profiles for both soft proofing and conversions? Usually not. So they wish to give you an idea that they are indeed color managed. They supply a printer profile but if (big if) they force you to send them the image in say sRGB, you're not using a fully color managed workflow. You're being told the profile is used for soft proofing alone which isn't very effective for many reasons.
Ideally the lab allows you to handle the image as you would if you were making your own prints. You pick the working space. You pick the profile and thus rendering intent for conversion. You produce output specific edits if necessary based on that soft proof and, the print comes out as you expect using a fully color managed workflow. Simply supplying a profile that may or may not define their process for soft proofing is a hack and kind of a lie, making you believe they are color managed.
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digitaldog

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Re: Processing images for outside printing service
« Reply #5 on: January 05, 2020, 02:24:56 pm »

They use inkjet printers. What's the difference between inkjet and giclée printing?
One is an actual term describing (part) of the print process, the other is an utterly BS marketing term. That they market as giclee makes me recommend you look elsewhere....
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GreggP

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Re: Processing images for outside printing service
« Reply #6 on: January 05, 2020, 02:33:59 pm »

One is an actual term describing (part) of the print process, the other is an utterly BS marketing term. That they market as giclee makes me recommend you look elsewhere....

I wouldn't necessarily disqualify them for using a marketing term for promoting their services. If I were to do that for every product or service I buy, I wouldn't purchase a thing. Anyhow, having worked on the engineering/development side of many technology businesses, I too get pretty annoyed by these marketing terms. For a small business like this, I can't blame them for trying to be a little different from the printing offered by the inexpensive services like Walgreens.

Anyhow, I appreciate your warnings.
« Last Edit: January 05, 2020, 04:11:39 pm by GreggP »
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GreggP

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Re: Processing images for outside printing service
« Reply #7 on: January 05, 2020, 02:41:01 pm »

Yes but the profile has to be one supplied that actually defines the conditions of the printer when it makes your print. And you need to pick a rendering intent just to soft proof meaning, does the lab allow you to use their profiles for both soft proofing and conversions? Usually not. So they wish to give you an idea that they are indeed color managed. They supply a printer profile but if (big if) they force you to send them the image in say sRGB, you're not using a fully color managed workflow. You're being told the profile is used for soft proofing alone which isn't very effective for many reasons.
Ideally the lab allows you to handle the image as you would if you were making your own prints. You pick the working space. You pick the profile and thus rendering intent for conversion. You produce output specific edits if necessary based on that soft proof and, the print comes out as you expect using a fully color managed workflow. Simply supplying a profile that may or may not define their process for soft proofing is a hack and kind of a lie, making you believe they are color managed.

Like I said, I will ask tomorrow (they're not open today). Using either Lightroom or Photoshop, there doesn't appear to an easy way to set the TIFF file to their ICC profile. Except with Photoshop, you can sort of do it by switching to PDF and back to TIFF but I don't know if that really works. Also, they've never said they require my image set to sRGB. I told them my workflow stays in ProPhoto RGB from my Canon camera to Lightroom and Photoshop. They're fine with that and it makes no sense that they'd convert to sRGB before printing.

Am I missing something or is there some other technique used to embed an ICC paper/ink/printer profile in a TIFF?
« Last Edit: January 05, 2020, 04:13:29 pm by GreggP »
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Stephen Ray

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Re: Processing images for outside printing service
« Reply #8 on: January 05, 2020, 04:02:38 pm »

Thanks in advance for any help!

From what I can see in your profile and Picture Salon's website, you're both in Madison, WI. Have you considered visiting them in person with your concerns? 
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GreggP

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Re: Processing images for outside printing service
« Reply #9 on: January 05, 2020, 04:07:55 pm »

From what I can see in your profile and Picture Salon's website, you're both in Madison, WI. Have you considered visiting them in person with your concerns?

I've already visited them. I had a chance to talk with them about the differences in the paper/media they offer and look at some samples. I posted here to learn what more experienced photographers do when they work with a printing service. Having never used a printing service, I wanted to learn more and ask the right questions before I submitted a file.

Benny Profane

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Re: Processing images for outside printing service
« Reply #10 on: January 05, 2020, 04:14:03 pm »

Methinks that after the confusion, bother, and cost of using this service, and the probably mediocre results, you're going to think twice about not printing yourself. To me, it would be like stumbling around in the dark.
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Stephen Ray

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Re: Processing images for outside printing service
« Reply #11 on: January 05, 2020, 04:21:54 pm »

I've already visited them. I had a chance to talk with them about the differences in the paper/media they offer and look at some samples. I posted here to learn what more experienced photographers do when they work with a printing service. Having never used a printing service, I wanted to learn more and ask the right questions before I submitted a file.

In that case, I can tell you that it's common to agree with your provider something along the lines; "Please do not auto-correct, modify, convert, etc." submitted file(s) when handing off your images. I trust you're in good hands with Salon and especially since they're local. In ideal situation.

This is providing you're doing the complete conversion yourself as you might have done in your previous personal workflow.


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GreggP

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Re: Processing images for outside printing service
« Reply #12 on: January 05, 2020, 04:26:25 pm »

Methinks that after the confusion, bother, and cost of using this service, and the probably mediocre results, you're going to think twice about not printing yourself. To me, it would be like stumbling around in the dark.

You might be right, we'll see. I'm waiting for my 8x10 proof, (which costs $5.25) to see the results. Based on their customer reviews, their results are far from mediocre. BTW, my daughter is an artist and she has all of her digital work printed there. None of her customers have ever complained about the quality of her prints. Last time I bought a set of inks for my R2400, I paid around $130. A 50 pack of paper starts at about $28. It would be cheaper to print my own. Do you know if there is much of an improvement in quality going from an Epson R2400 to the Epson 9600? How about to those Canon iPF printers? I think their website might be out of date because they've since purchased a couple newer printers.

elliot_n

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Re: Processing images for outside printing service
« Reply #13 on: January 05, 2020, 04:28:39 pm »

Like I said, I will ask tomorrow (they're not open today). Using either Lightroom or Photoshop, there doesn't appear to an easy way to set the TIFF file to their ICC profile. Except with Photoshop, you can sort of do it by switching to PDF and back to TIFF but I don't know if that really works. Also, they've never said they require my image set to sRGB. I told them my workflow stays in ProPhoto RGB from my Canon camera to Lightroom and Photoshop. They're fine with that and it makes no sense that they'd convert to sRGB before printing.

Am I missing something or is there some other technique used to embed an ICC paper/ink/printer profile in a TIFF?

In Photoshop, Edit > Convert to Profile. Then save it.
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GreggP

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Re: Processing images for outside printing service
« Reply #14 on: January 05, 2020, 04:31:26 pm »

In Photoshop, Edit > Convert to Profile. Then save it.

Ah, thanks!!!

GreggP

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Re: Processing images for outside printing service"
« Reply #15 on: January 05, 2020, 05:06:23 pm »

After looking a little closer on Picture Salon's website, they state:

"Picture Salon provides these custom ICC profiles for customers who demand an extra level of control when adjusting their images for print. They should not be embedded in the image. These profiles are the same ones that we use for printing on paper and canvas and should allow you to better visualize the contrast and color characteristics of a particular paper or canvas before printing. Profiles can be used for "soft proofing" in Adobe Photoshop."

I wonder why they don't want them embedded...?

NAwlins_Contrarian

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Re: Processing images for outside printing service
« Reply #16 on: January 05, 2020, 05:07:22 pm »

Correct me if I'm wrong but isn't the purpose of using their ink/paper/printer profile, while using Lightroom or Photoshop, to soft proof your images? Isn't soft proofing a good way to see what colors from your image might be over-saturated? Then you can use targeted adjustments to pull the saturation of those colors down to something that will print, right?

Should I make those targeted adjustments or should I just rely on the printing services preferred method for adjusting those out of gamut colors (they prefer perceptual intent)?
Does it matter if those targeted adjustments are done in Lightroom or Photoshop?
When I save the final TIFF image in Photoshop, should I check one of the boxes for color? If I didn't check a box, what would happen?
I agree with what Andrew wrote, but to put it a bit differently in case this helps: soft-proofing is good for trying to make sure not only that the print you get most closely matches what you see on your monitor, but also lets you adjust the file for the most pleasing print, based on what the printing service can / will actually deliver. There are printing services that provide ICC profiles to be used only for soft-proofing. Where someone uses such a service, the approach can be to edit (preferably a copy) in soft-proof mode for best results, and then save that file in a regular working space (usually sRGB) to upload it to the service. However, the better approach is where the lab provides the full ICC output profile for their printer + ink + paper (inkjet) or printer + paper + chemistry (wet print), and then you not only use that profile for soft-proofing but also perform a 'convert to profile' and send them a file saved in their ICC profile. This latter approach lets you experiment with rendering intents and black-point compensation for the convert to profile, to see what produces the result closest to what you want.

[T]hey refer to their service as "Fine Art Giclée Printing (https://www.picturesalon.com/home). They use inkjet printers. What's the difference between inkjet and giclée printing?
The difference is pretentiousness. Today those terms are essentially interchangeable. Thirty years ago the word "giclée" was made up to improve the marketability of the new high-quality inkjet prints. See, e.g., https://www.canson-infinity.com/en/what-a-giclee-print. Since then, even some of those involved have expressed reservations about the term.
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NAwlins_Contrarian

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Re: Processing images for outside printing service"
« Reply #17 on: January 05, 2020, 05:18:42 pm »

After looking a little closer on Picture Salon's website, they state:

"Picture Salon provides these custom ICC profiles for customers who demand an extra level of control when adjusting their images for print. They should not be embedded in the image. These profiles are the same ones that we use for printing on paper and canvas and should allow you to better visualize the contrast and color characteristics of a particular paper or canvas before printing. Profiles can be used for "soft proofing" in Adobe Photoshop."

I wonder why they don't want them embedded...?

I don't know why they don't want their own profiles embedded in the files you submit, but their approach, although common, is not the best because:
(1) it does not let you choose which rendering intent is used to convert from the working space in which you submit your file (they may require sRGB, or also allow Adobe RGB and possibly even other spaces like ProPhoto RGB) to the output profile--e.g., maybe you'd prefer the results from relative colorimetric but they'll use perceptual, or vice versa.
(2) Likewise, it does not let you choose whether black point compensation is used to convert; usually you'd probably want it, but there may be exceptions.
(3) Unless they allow you to submit files in ProPhoto RGB, there's a risk that their printer's gamut will be greater than the working space in which you submit your image, and therefore you might not be able to print the to full limits of the printer's gamut, and instead needlessly have to clip (perceptual) or compress (relative colorimetric) the image's gamut.
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GreggP

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Re: Processing images for outside printing service"
« Reply #18 on: January 05, 2020, 05:31:22 pm »

I don't know why they don't want their own profiles embedded in the files you submit, but their approach, although common, is not the best because:
(1) it does not let you choose which rendering intent is used to convert from the working space in which you submit your file (they may require sRGB, or also allow Adobe RGB and possibly even other spaces like ProPhoto RGB) to the output profile--e.g., maybe you'd prefer the results from relative colorimetric but they'll use perceptual, or vice versa.
(2) Likewise, it does not let you choose whether black point compensation is used to convert; usually you'd probably want it, but there may be exceptions.
(3) Unless they allow you to submit files in ProPhoto RGB, there's a risk that their printer's gamut will be greater than the working space in which you submit your image, and therefore you might not be able to print the to full limits of the printer's gamut, and instead needlessly have to clip (perceptual) or compress (relative colorimetric) the image's gamut.

After installing all of their profiles and stepping through each one while soft proofing, I enabled the out-of-gamut warnings to see which combo gave me the widest color range. All of the profiles had out-of-gamut warnings, so it seems my Prophoto RGB workspace has more color than their ink/paper/printer can show on the print. I also noticed that my monitor, although it is 100% Adobe RGB, can't display some of the colors they are capable of printing. So if I provide them with my adjusted image (lowered saturation while soft proofing), they won't need to clip or compress away any colors. BTW, from what I've read (or viewed on YouTube videos) the color intent (in Lightroom you can choose relative or perceptual) is usually based on a recommendation from the paper manufacturer. For example, I think Hahnemühle recommends using perceptual. Am I wrong?
« Last Edit: January 05, 2020, 05:34:33 pm by GreggP »
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digitaldog

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Re: Processing images for outside printing service"
« Reply #19 on: January 05, 2020, 05:39:57 pm »

After looking a little closer on Picture Salon's website, they state:

"Picture Salon provides these custom ICC profiles for customers who demand an extra level of control when adjusting their images for print. They should not be embedded in the image. These profiles are the same ones that we use for printing on paper and canvas and should allow you to better visualize the contrast and color characteristics of a particular paper or canvas before printing. Profiles can be used for "soft proofing" in Adobe Photoshop."

I wonder why they don't want them embedded...?
As I predicted, they only want you to use them for soft proofing, not conversion. So half baked color management, not ideal.
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