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Thread: printing to dark.

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    printing to dark.

    Hey guys, this is a follow on from a question I asked a while ago. I got a photo printed today from a proper print lab and the picture is very dark compared to my monitor. Now as i understand it calibrating is purely for colours not lightness/darkness. I have tried playing with the monitor settings to get a similar looking image on the screen, however its not possible.
    The weird thing is when i took it there is was first put on to a monitor that was calibrated fro their printers and it looked spot on, but the print was dark. I dont have any idea how to get my monitor to closely represent the darkness the image will print at. If i lighten the image on the computer the highlights blow out, will the print blow out the highlights too?

    Dan
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    First up if the print is not the same as what you were shown on their monitor then go back with the same file and have it compared on their monitor to the print provided.

    This is simple trade practices stuff - you didnt received the goods you were shown and contracted to. Mind you if you accepted the goods as being OK when you picked them up, there may be no case as by accepting the goods you then are approving the completed contract.

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    Select several images that look good on screen; have then printed; ask the staff what changers they made; maybe even ask for prints without lab correction. If you have a PC, there are controls on the screen for colour, density and contrast, these are used the set your screen the lab. may take several goes to get it right.

    Also ask the lab if they have "prefect print" and a digital image that you can use to help set your screen.

    Rough but works; that's what I use from black and white photographics in adelaide;

    By the way; for best result always have the same lighting (night and day) in the 'puter room. That means no open windows or doors. Give your eyes time to adjust to the screen; the older you are the longer it may take.



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    Hey mark, I thought it might turn out dark before i picked it up anyway, I am going to talk to them but not because i think they jipped me, I think there is something going on that i dont understand. I will see if they can help me with some examples or something, they seem pretty knowledgable and are good to deal with. this printing buisness is not as simple as I first thought.

    Ian, what is perfect print, do you mean using a printed image to calibrate my screen roughly. If you do I tried darkening my screen to a similar level as the photography, but the screen doesnt actually go dark enough without loosing white, it turns to a dull grey colour( well what apears to be grey to my eye). I will see what they say and let you know if i sort it out.

    Thanks for your help
    Dan

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    A royal pain in the bum! arthurking83's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dantheman View Post
    .... Now as i understand it calibrating is purely for colours not lightness/darkness. I have tried playing with the monitor settings to get a similar looking image on the screen, however its not possible.

    .... I dont have any idea how to get my monitor to closely represent the darkness the image will print at. If i lighten the image on the computer the highlights blow out, will the print blow out the highlights too?

    Dan
    I always thought it was both! ie. you have to adjust both brightness and contrast( to see the full extent of the dynamic range your screen allows, as best as you can get it) and to adjust for colour tinting, so that you don't end up with prints with a strange hue.

    As a rough guide, check in my signature for the tone bar, (or even better, go to a site that has more detailed tone bars) maybe you need to adjust contrast/brightness so that you can see more detail in each of the individual blocks.
    That step wedge is from DPR, and a few pro photogs also use them to get a rough estimate as to how their images will look, if you can see the step wedges properly to begin with.
    If you can't differentiate(perfectly) between either of the two tones at each end, don't worry too much about it, it's only a rough estimate anyhow, but it helps.

    Also: Take an image with a good amount of dynamic range. open the image to see an accurate histogram and adjust the brightness/exposure compensation of the image so that it just starts to clip at the highlights. Adjust the brightness of the screen so that you see approximately the same thing that the histogram tells you(that you should be seeing). That's the absolute maximum brightness level of the screen that you want to set, as any more is not going to be accurate, and you images may actually be darker in real life.

    I have never calibrated my (CRT) screen, but the five or so images I've printed in the last few years have all been spot on. I still want to get a calibrator, just to be on the safe side, even though I know I'm at least 5% within the specs of how I expect my images to display.
    I have a lappy for my kids, and transferring images to it is a nightmare of futility. It's old and ... well very old ... and it just can't display images as well as my now 10 year old CRT screen.

    As for color tinting... well I reckon you need either a test print, or a screen calibrator for that.
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    Hey aurthur, I actualy did pretty much what you explained to mae about 6 months ago when I first started wanting to print. I adjusted the monitor and everything looked "perfect". but then when it comes time to print I just cant get it. I will post back tomorrow after I have talked to the guys at the shop.

    Dan

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    Dan
    I'm not saying that they jipped you, I'm just advising of your rights as a consumer to receive what you have been shown and have an expectation to get that product.

    If you asked for a can of coloured paint from the Dulux colour chart then you expect to see that colour once the paint has dried on a properly prepared surface. If the shade wasn't right then you would take the paint back. This is why Bunnings and most other paint suppliers are now using hair driers to dry the paint to ensure the colour is correct.

    Its no different with a printed image.

    The image on their screen is the one you must get.

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    first things first, I have learnt to go to another printing lab to compare results, before blaming it on my monitor calibration

    many labs will vary wildly in their results, one print lab i used to go to would always print my photos way underexposed, so I learnt to overexpose it before handing the files to them

    switched to another lab, gave them the files as it is from how i saw it on the comp - prints came out perfectly, and my monitor was not even calibrated. Suffice to say, I never went back to the original place

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    hey Mark sorry if i sounded rude, i understand what you were saying, i just wanted to give them the benefit of the doubt. But i am going back there to see what they say about it.

    JM Tran, its a good idea, which i might also try after checking things out tomorrow. only reason im more inclined to say its the monitor is my limited knowledge on the subject and the fact that its not calibrated. But thats one reason i posted here, to get opinions of people that know what they are talking about.

    Thanks for all the ideas, ill see how i go tomorrow.
    Dan

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    I had this problem with my set up, I found the best solution was to use SRGB for the monitor and printer and slightly overexpose the shot. Also doing a test print may help, even if it's 6x4 but A4 is better. This is as close as I have been to repersenting what I see on the screen to getting output on the printer.

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    Ausphotography Regular wideangle's Avatar
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    Remember that what you see on a screen is back light with reflected light, whereas a print is not and needs to be viewed in adequate lighting conditions. In saying this I have found that print labs vary widely, one I get them done at prints darker and the other prints closer to what I see on my screen.
    please ask before PP my images

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