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Are your prints too dark?

From: Lightroom 3 Advanced Techniques

Video: Are your prints too dark?

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.

Are your prints too dark?

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.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for Lightroom 3 Advanced Techniques
Lightroom 3 Advanced Techniques

91 video lessons · 17835 viewers

Chris Orwig
Author

 
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 5m 57s
    1. Welcome
      2m 11s
    2. Strategies for success
      1m 49s
    3. Using the exercise files
      1m 57s
  2. 39m 0s
    1. Understanding how Lightroom, Bridge, and Photoshop work together
      6m 25s
    2. Working with Lightroom, Bridge, and Photoshop
      6m 35s
    3. Maximizing compatibility with Photoshop
      4m 7s
    4. Resolving Camera Raw mismatches
      7m 47s
    5. Customizing external editor naming
      3m 54s
    6. Stacking multiple photos
      5m 25s
    7. What to do when Bridge isn't seeing the raw adjustments
      4m 47s
  3. 18m 30s
    1. Setting up an additional external editor
      6m 38s
    2. Should I work with TIFF or PSD files?
      1m 3s
    3. Setting up an export preset
      4m 4s
    4. Integrating Photoshop actions into Lightroom
      6m 45s
  4. 11m 46s
    1. What are catalogs and why do they matter?
      3m 38s
    2. Where are my images?
      4m 2s
    3. The nuts and bolts of catalogs
      1m 52s
    4. Understanding catalogs, collections, and folders
      2m 14s
  5. 15m 22s
    1. Working with folders
      3m 22s
    2. Working with collections
      3m 55s
    3. The collections workflow
      8m 5s
  6. 16m 5s
    1. Exporting and importing catalogs
      7m 52s
    2. Diagramming multiple catalogs and computers
      2m 10s
    3. When to use multiple catalogs on one computer
      3m 40s
    4. Cleaning up the catalog mess
      2m 23s
  7. 10m 55s
    1. Catalog backup defaults
      4m 7s
    2. Performing a better catalog backup
      3m 45s
    3. Restoring from a backup catalog
      1m 27s
    4. Optimizing catalogs
      1m 36s
  8. 12m 24s
    1. Hard drive options
      9m 50s
    2. Further resources
      2m 34s
  9. 9m 46s
    1. Setting up tethered capture
      3m 12s
    2. Custom tethered capture white balance
      6m 34s
  10. 43m 38s
    1. Enhancing eyes
      8m 59s
    2. Whitening teeth
      2m 51s
    3. Smoothing skin
      6m 45s
    4. Reducing small blemishes
      6m 56s
    5. Darkening or dodging with the Adjustment brush
      2m 29s
    6. Adding dimensions and contrast
      4m 53s
    7. Retouching workflow with Photoshop and Lightroom, pt. 1: Reducing blemishes
      7m 10s
    8. Retouching workflow with Photoshop and Lightroom, pt. 2: Smoothing skin
      3m 35s
  11. 21m 42s
    1. Understanding color space and preventing color profile mismatch
      3m 29s
    2. Monitor calibration with ColorMunki
      1m 5s
    3. Working with ColorChecker Passport
      59s
    4. Creating and exporting a ColorChecker Passport profile
      5m 44s
    5. Choosing and applying a profile
      6m 42s
    6. Saving a profile as a preset
      3m 43s
  12. 19m 0s
    1. Are your prints too dark?
      5m 47s
    2. Monitor brightness presets
      3m 4s
    3. Custom grid layouts
      3m 38s
    4. Importing and exporting custom presets
      2m 31s
    5. Exporting from Lightroom to Pictage
      4m 0s
  13. 20m 19s
    1. Designing a custom watermark in Photoshop
      7m 0s
    2. Implementing a custom watermark
      3m 54s
    3. Using a custom watermark for effect in a slideshow
      5m 54s
    4. Using a custom watermark for effect in a web gallery
      3m 31s
  14. 15m 28s
    1. Exporting images for a Blurb photo book
      6m 45s
    2. Downloading and installing Blurb BookSmart
      44s
    3. Building and designing a Blurb book
      7m 59s
  15. 17m 26s
    1. Publishing to the iPhone or iPad
      8m 45s
    2. Publishing to Facebook
      2m 24s
    3. Publishing to Flickr
      3m 19s
    4. Publishing to SmugMug
      2m 58s
  16. 17m 31s
    1. Web galleries and web hosting
      2m 52s
    2. Creating and uploading a gallery
      6m 29s
    3. Popular web gallery plug-ins
      3m 10s
    4. Installing and uploading a web gallery plug-in
      5m 0s
  17. 25m 44s
    1. Exporting to burn on DVD or Blu-ray
      5m 33s
    2. Exporting to a blog
      9m 16s
    3. Exporting for the web
      3m 26s
    4. Exporting and posting a slideshow or video
      4m 34s
    5. Creating a Lightroom screensaver
      2m 55s
  18. 10m 10s
    1. Creating a client web gallery template
      4m 1s
    2. Sending high-resolution images via FTP
      6m 9s
  19. 10m 23s
    1. Emailing images from Lightroom
      5m 31s
    2. Emailing images from Lightroom with Gmail
      4m 52s
  20. 11m 59s
    1. Installing plug-ins
      6m 17s
    2. Accessing plug-ins
      3m 10s
    3. Creative plug-in resources
      2m 32s
  21. 45m 6s
    1. General navigation shortcuts
      6m 21s
    2. Importing shortcuts
      5m 49s
    3. Library module shortcuts
      8m 15s
    4. Develop module shortcuts, pt. 1
      4m 42s
    5. Develop module shortcuts, pt. 2
      4m 29s
    6. Develop module shortcuts, pt. 3
      5m 24s
    7. Develop module shortcuts, pt. 4
      3m 39s
    8. Develop module shortcuts, pt. 5
      5m 11s
    9. Shortcut resources
      1m 16s
  22. 6m 13s
    1. General tips
      2m 28s
    2. Increasing the cache size for greater speed
      3m 45s
  23. 55s
    1. Goodbye
      55s

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