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In order to create high-quality and accurate prints, we need to have a well color-managed workflow. And what that means is we need to have a good monitor profile. We then need to work on our images, send them to our desktop printer tagged with a profile for particular paper type for that particular printer. Yet, in spite of many of our best efforts, many times, our prints come out too dark. In fact, recently I was speaking at a conference on Lightroom, and there were a few hundred photographers in the audience, and I asked those photographers, how many of you find that your prints come out too dark? 90% of the audience raised their hand. Now why is that? Well, what happens is is that we were really used to seeing images on bright monitors.
And there is something that happens in that process. We have a monitor which is really bright, the image illuminated from light behind it. We then send that to a printer. The image is created via ink. It comes out too dark. Well, there are two schools of thought here. One school of thought says, you know, when you create your profile for your monitor, you should lower the luminance value. You should darken that monitor, so it's more accurate, so the darkness you see on your monitor, matches the brightness value of your printer. Then there are others who say, well, I just can't work in that context. My monitor is too bright.
And there are a lot of really renowned photographers who fall into that category, and maybe you're one of them, because we were used to seeing images with this nice level of brightness. So what do we do? Well, in those situations what we can do is we can actually create a test print, which can help us to determine how much we need to overcompensate--how much brightness we need to add on top of our regular processing, in order to make sure that our images turn out good when they come out of the printer. Does that make sense? Basically what we're going to do is kind of overcorrect the file, so that when it comes out of the printer, rather than being dark, it's going to look great.
Let me walk through this process. Well, here you can see I have this photograph of my daughter Annika. She put out on this old bunny suit. I just thought it was kind of funny. I took a couple of pictures of her. And let's say that I want to print this image. When I finished my post-production work in Lightroom, I'm ready to send this to my printer. Yet before I do, I want to create a text print for myself, and I want to do this without wasting a ton of paper. Here's how I like to do it. We'll go ahead and right-click or Ctrl +Click on the image, and then choose Create Virtual Copy, or you can always do this by way of a shortcut.
On a Mac, that's Command+Apostrophe. On Windows, it's Ctrl+Apostrophe. Then we'll go to the Develop module. And in the Develop module, on top of all of our normal processing, you can see this image has already been modified. What we're going to do is increase the brightness value of this photograph. Now we could do this with multiple sliders, but I found great success just working with the Brightness slider. So here, what I'm going to do is just add let's say about ten points of brightness approximately. Next, I'll create another virtual copy-- Command+Apostrophe on a Mac, Ctrl+Apostrophe on Windows.
Again, add some more brightness there. Ten points. And then I'll go ahead and do that one more time, incrementally adding more brightness to these images. So here as I click through them, you can see that I have different levels of brightness. Now in my case, at least on my monitor, this image looks way too bright. Yet, I'm guessing that this one will probably print the best. So what we need to do then is click on one image, hold down the Shift key, and click on another. And just to reiterate real quickly, we have the original file here: one a little bit brighter, a little bit brighter and even more brighter.
So we have incremental increase of the brightness. Next step, head over to the Print module. In the Print module, what you can use is something like the template for two-up cells. And here I'll go to page setup and change the orientation, just so I have a larger print size dedicated to these photos here. What I can do with this is I can then print these photos out, only using one sheet of paper. And I can remember what image is what. Here's image number one, number two, three and then four.
And then I can physically look at the print, and I can ask myself, okay, which image looks best? Now originally I thought this one would look best, but you know what? It's actually number three. And again, I'm just making this up, but let's just say it was number three. In that situation, we would then select image number three, and then we would choose a way that we would like to print this one. Let's say that we'll go ahead and print this image this way, so we have a nice, big version of the photograph. And I'm just going to change this here just a bit. And I'm now ready to print this photograph.
So in other words, what we did is we start to realize that there was an issue, that our prints were too dark. Then we said, what kind of work around can we come up, what kind of task we could come up with, in order to determine how much we need to overcompensate for this darkening effect that happens when we print our images? And so we taught ourselves that typically, with our printer, with the way that we create images, that we need to add a certain amount of brightness to our photographs. And in this case, it was 20 points.
Now there is no magic number, how much brightness or how much exposure increase, but typically, what I found-- it is something like 10 or 15 or 20. And again, it depends on your own monitor and the luminance value of that monitor. But it's typically something like that, so that once you determine, or once you discover, what that is, you can then start to apply that logic to other photographs. Now, it's not going to work always with all images, yet what I have found is that by using this technique it can really expedite, or speed up, your overall printing process, so that you can ultimately create more accurate and more stunning prints.
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