Alley in Pisa, Italy

by Lars Kotthoff

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I took a photo from my DSLR, brought it into photoshop, made some fixes, added some text and saved it in a few different formats (TIFF, JPEG). Then I uploaded it to an online photo printer. When I got the photo back, the contrast was totally off. It looked completely different than how it looked on the screen. I expected there to be some differences, but it looks more like I did something wrong. However, when I printed the photo on my inkjet printer, it looked very close to how it looks on the screen. Is there something wrong in the way that I created/saved the photoshop document/TIFF/JPEG? Or was there something wrong with the printer I chose?

Update: When I created the Photoshop document, I said it was CMYK (since I knew I was going to print it), but I have a feeling that might have been the problem. Also, when I saved the PSD as a TIFF, I left the checkbox that said "embed color profile" checked. When I unchecked that checkbox it made a significant different when I tried printing it again. Could this have been the problem? Should I not embed the color profile? Should I have chosen RGB instead of CMYK?

Also, I think calibrating your monitor is a great idea, but I don't think that's my problem in this case. I have already calibrated my monitor, plus I'm using an Apple Cinema Display, so the colors are already very accurate.

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most printshops will "fix" images automatically to compensate for the most common flaws in the way consumer grade cameras record things. If you make your own files as you did, you need to tell the shop to print is as is, no adjustments at all. –  jwenting Sep 20 '11 at 6:02
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Before you know how different a print looks compared to how it 'should' look, you first need to colour calibrate your monitor accurately. The prints may be perfect, and the colours on your monitor all wrong, and not the other way round –  Dreamager Sep 20 '11 at 8:27
    
These comments should be answers! :) –  Alex Feinman Sep 21 '11 at 15:28
    
@AlexFeinman: I agree! No reason why these comments shouldn't be their own answers. –  Andrew Sep 21 '11 at 15:55
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2 Answers 2

This is probably down to calibration of your monitor being out and what you see on the monitor not being a true representation of the image. For instance if the contrast is too high on your monitor what looks like a good image on the monitor can look very flat and soft when printed out. Try something like Adobe Gamma to calibrate your monitor by eye or invest in a calibration system like PANTONE huey and you should start to see a better match between your prints and what you see on screen. Also make sure that your images have your workspace colour profile embedded when you save them because without it the printer will not know what to match the print colour to. When you print to your own printer this will most likely be applying some enhancements that make the images look more like your on screen and you are most probably printing from your editing software which negates colour profile missing in your saved image. Check your printer settings to make sure that options with names like 'Vivid' are not selected and that it has a colour profile set up for it. Set it to sRGB if that option is there. Your commercial printing shop will tend to print exactly what you send them because the file is all they have to go on and their print process will be calibrated to reproduce to universal standards like sRGB.

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There are settings for printing from printers, your printer may print that way because you have chose the settings that in for the printer. With printing outside, there are different formats which these places use and you should specify which setting you wish to print with. Of course there are places which think they are helping you "fix" the image while they change it to something different. It depends on where you are printing this, but those are the two things you should be checking. Some places will even show you how to calibrate your monitor to their printers or vice versa. Also depending on what type of online photo printer you are working with, there may be different results.

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