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by evan-pak

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I have been asked a print of this photo (60x40 cm). Picture being very low contrast, I do not know what kind of physical medium to have it printed. The printing will be hung on a wall of a living room lit by an incandescent lamp. I must correct the levels of the picture, making it less dark or is there a physical medium that can match, more or less, the vision on the monitor?

I want to add that I usually print using this online service:

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

Generally glossy papers will have a deeper black point than matte. The exact ideal depends on the type of printer. If using photographic prints, then it depends on the characteristics of the photo paper itself. If using inkjet based (either die or preferably pigment) then the ink system is also going to matter a lot for having not only deep blacks, but fine detail.

That said, your image honestly does not appear all that difficult to print for a good printer. I don't know much about whitewall, but I could personally print this without issue on my Pixma Pro-1. The image doesn't even have any deep blacks, so paper type probably doesn't matter in this case, just the level of detail in the color that can be produced by the ink system or photographic pigments.

I might actually try it on a matte or luster paper more to go with the feel of the image, which I don't think would look right with glossy due to the highlights from light falling on it. You want something subdued and probably with a nice texture. The traditional problem with matte paper is that you lose deep blacks, but you don't need them here, so it actually makes it easier.

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+1 I like the luster paper idea! – Christian Sep 25 '13 at 13:25

I think part of what to do depends on where the picture came from. Did someone give you a snapshot and say "print this", or is this from a serious photographer that already did a lot of post processing, knows what he's doing, and truly wants the picture to be as given to you?

If the unsophisticaed customer case, then part of the solution is to fix the low contrast snapshot to use the full dynamic range and therefore have higher contrast. For example, here is the original:

and here is a version with the lightest and darkest parts expanded to be full black and full white:

Personally, I like the second picture better as it is much more dramatic and interesting to look at. In the case of the unsophisticated customer, this might be what they expect you to produce. Of course if someone that thought about it and really wants the dark and dreary mood of the first picture, then you need to preserve it. Even in the first case, a conversation with the customer is in order.

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hum... the photo is mine and the PP too... (And I'm an serius amateur photographer ;) ). May I ask what have you do to get the result of the second one? Just 'contrast' or have you played with levels in PS? – Christian Sep 25 '13 at 14:44
Mostly I expanded the dynamic range so that the brightest part of the picture was full white and the darkest full black. In this case, I added a little logarithmic brightening, which makes the intermediate tones a bit lighter while leaving the ends of the range alone. For me, I'd probably crank that up a little higher, but I didn't want to alter the original too much in this example. I don't know what you think "levels in PS" means. I used my own software for this, but the process is as I described, which has nothing to do with what software actually did the math in this example. – Olin Lathrop Sep 25 '13 at 14:55
@Christian - what Olin did can be accomplished in Photoshop by adjusting the black and white point (the ends of the line) on the curves feature. Then the logarithmic brightening can be applied by dragging a point in the middle off to the side a bit to increase the rate of increase in either the darker or brighter parts. Personally, I like both versions, the first seems "darker" emotionally to me while the second is "stronger" and more fearful. The latter would also work better on glossier prints since it has an expanded dynamic range and thus the size of the gamut of the paper would matter. – AJ Henderson Sep 25 '13 at 16:05
@AJHenderson Many thanks Sir!! – Christian Sep 25 '13 at 16:18

With printer paper, the better the paper, the more your digital images look like traditional print photographs. If your printer can accept different kinds of paper, you need to evaluate the quality you need versus the cost of the paper:

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I'm sorry, but are you sure you have read my question? Or you are just doing some spam for your blog? – Christian Sep 26 '13 at 8:49
I took the liberty of removing the advertising link as I understand it is against site policy AND contributed nothing and the answer appears to be lightly garnished spam. Removed material directed people to www bestcamerabrand net - People can decide if this answer makes them more or less likely to buy from there. – Russell McMahon Sep 26 '13 at 12:50

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