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Inevitably, there will be times when you produce a print from Lightroom and you're not exactly thrilled with how it came out. Maybe it's a little bit too dark. The color might seem off or there's something else not quite right about it. And Lightroom provides some opportunities for you to apply refinements to the image for the print. Of course first you'll want to check your Print settings making sure for example that you're using the correct profile. And perhaps trying the different rendering intent, perceptual versus relative. It's also important that you've set the appropriate printer settings for your specific printer. For example when you're using a particular profile from within Lightroom you'll want to make sure that you've turned off color management in the print driver.
However if the print is still looking for example a little bit too dark or it lacks contrast. You can apply some adjustments in the print job section of the right panel in the print module. To do so you'll want to turn on the Print adjustment check box down toward the bottom and then adjust brightness and contrast. Note that you're not going to see a preview of these adjustments. I'll go ahead and increase brightness for example significantly. And you'll see that there's no change in the preview. So you're not able to get a sense of exactly how much of the adjustment you need, it will take a little bit of trial and error.
But even adjust by small increments. For brightness, I would typically adjust by about 10 point increments as you narrow your way down to a setting that's going to work well. And for contrast, I would generally work with even smaller increments, typically around five at a time. But obviously if the print is off significantly you might need a little bit more. Just bare in mind, if you feel that you need a very strong adjustment here, chances are something else is wrong with your print settings. Another even more powerful capability is found in the Develop module.
I'll switch to the Develop module for this image, and then on the toolbar below the image, I'll turn on the Soft Proofing check box. And that provides me with a preview of what lightroom thinks this image is going to look like when I print it. Once you've turned on Soft Proofing, you need to adjust the output settings. You'll notice that the profile, for example is set to Adobe RGB, which is not a printer profile that I was using. So I'll click on the pop up. And choose the output profile. That I'd already established in the Print module. And you'll notice that I'm getting a red overlay.
Over portions of the image. And that's an indication, that there are out of gamed colors. In other words, some colors in this image simply cannot be printed, by my printer. Based on the printer, ink and paper combination that I'm using. You can try a different rendering intent, perceptual versus relative. I'd typically use Relative color metric because it cause fewer of the colors in the image to be changed. Perceptual though does retain the relationships between colors, and so it's certainly a viable option. I also recommend turning on the simulate paper and ink checkbox. With this option turned off, the image is going to look, frankly, a little better than it will actually look in print.
Because with print we're depending upon reflected light rather than emitted light. So by turning this checkbox I'm getting a better sense of the actual paper and ink effect. For example, if the paper has a little bit of a cream tone to it you'll see that creamy color coming through just a little bit. And if the printer can't produce a pure black, you'll see that the blacks get a little bit lighter. Of course, a key reason to use Soft Proofing is not just to see what the print will look like, but to actually apply refinements to try to make it look even better. If you're going to apply those adjustments, I recommend that you create a proof copy, to create a virtual copy of the image, and use that as the basis of your adjustments. That's because you're making adjustments for a specific print condition, for a specific printer, ink, and paper combination.
If you then use that image in a slide show, the adjustments you've applied are not necessarily going to be good adjustments. In fact, Lightroom will alert you to this if you try to make an adjustment while in the Softproofing mode. I'll increase saturation, for example. And you'll see that I get more colors that are out of gamut, because highly saturated colors are more difficult to print. But as soon as I apply that adjustment, as soon as I release the mouse on the slider, Lightroom suggests that I create a virtual copy. I could also simply click the Create Proof copy button in the Soft Proofing section of the right panel. But since Lightroom is asking, I'll go ahead and click the Create Proof copy button.
That will create a virtual copy of my image and this virtual copy is the one that I will adjust so that I get the best print possible. Generally speaking, you want to ensure the best image obviously, but you also want to make sure that the colors in the image can actually be printed. For example, here I'm trying to produce a very highly saturated image. But my current printer, ink, and paper settings don't allow for highly saturated colors. I'm using a matte paper in this case, for example. If I reduce the saturation, obviously the image won't look as saturated.
But I then don't have any out of gamut colors. Ideally, I want the image to be as saturated as possible. But without any of those out of gamut colors. Of course by applying such a strong adjustment I'm getting all of the colors in gamut but the image doesn't look as good. It doesn't look anywhere near what it looked like previously. And that's because I'm applying a strong adjustment, to the entire image instead of letting Lightroom apply compensation. If I let light room print this image then only the out of gamut colors, I'll reset my saturation adjustment.
Only the out of gamut colors would actually be adjusted everything else will be just as it is. So by reducing saturation overall I'm acutally having a stronger effect than I need to. As a result I don't tend to focus too much energy on reducing out of gamut colors. I might take a look at adding contrast or adjusting overall tonality. Perhaps even adjusting the temperature and tint sliders to impact the color. You can see for example if I warm up the image than fewer colors are out of gamut. I don't necessarily want the image to be warmer.
But this is just an illustration that we can apply a variety of different adjustments in order to get us closer to our ultimate goal. But ultimately, what we're trying to accomplish here is an accurate print, and Lightroom's going to do its best to give us that. I recommend that with soft-proofing, you think more about getting a sense of what that image will look like and less about trying to make adjustments. The printer is always only going to produce colors that are within it's capabilities. And Lightroom and your printer driver combined are going to try to do the best job of producing the best image even when your photo contains colors that the printer can't produce. So think of Soft Proofing first and foremost as a tool for previewing what the print will look like, for troubleshooting issues with that print. And perhaps for applying some minor adjustments to improve the overall appearance of the image in print.
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