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I sent some images to a printer's to print for card creation, but they have all come out too dark — more blacks and shadows then when I view the image on my screen.

I use Adobe Lightroom on a PC.

I know you can have colour profiles and I know printing uses a different colour model to a computer monitor, but I don't know much more than that, or how I should resolve this difference.

Is the problem that my monitor is setup incorrect and I need to modify something so that it matches the printed output? Or is my monitor correct but I need to do another transformation to the image I send to the printers? Or is there something wrong with the printing mechanism?

I've spoke to the printers and they say I can either fix at my end, or they can 'lighten the image' — is this the simply the equivalent of me increasing the exposure with Lightroom?

I've just tried going into Develop mode in Lightroom and moving the exposure slider down -1.0, and does seem to make the image comparable with what is printed out, but how should I fix this?

I wonder whether the user on an standard monitor setup would see the image more like how I was seeing at on my monitor, or more like what is has been printed out as.

Edit

@mattdn I just had a thought, Im usng a labtop but with a plugged in monitor, so I unplugged to see what the image looked like my laptop monitor and the image was pretty much the same on each monitor. Then I checked on my wifes monitor and again was about the same. So although Im going to properly calibrate my monitor(s) it seems more likely the problem is with the printer, but Im suprised as this is a professional printers - could it misunderstanding an embedded colour profile in the image ?

Ive just done a calibration using Windows inbuilt tool and there wasn't really anything to modify.

So the amended question is do I just manually tell the Printers to 'Lighten the image' by a certain amount. Or is there something I can do in Lightroom when I export the files out of Lightroom to get their printers to automatically lighten the image based on the profile.

Further Details

Okay so I now realize that my images were being exported as 100% quality jpegs with the sRGB colourspace, if I export as AdobeRGB colour space the resultant image is much more like the printed image in therms of darkness. So my suspicion is that they are printing as if Im using the AdobeRGB colourspace regardless of what I actually exported as, could this be it ?

But I am confused that my sRGB image matches the image as I see it in Lightroom and the AdobeRGb one does not as I thought AdobeRGB is the colourspace lightroom would use ?

For goods measure I also exported as ProPhotoRGB and this came out very much like the AdobeRGb version as well.

Another print to muddy the waters the printing company did not directly print from my jpeg they converted it to a pdf and then printed it

Below I have links to the images (tryig to use the link button would accept the images)

http://www.jthink.net/jaikoz/scratch/colourspaces/srgb.jpg

http://www.jthink.net/jaikoz/scratch/colourspaces/adobergb.jpg

http://www.jthink.net/jaikoz/scratch/colourspaces/prophoto.jpg

The key difference for me is the srgb image is not as dark in the bottom left hand corner as the other two, but wierdly the rendering of the blue colour in the printed versio does better match the srgb image than the adobe image.

  • On the last bit — how your image might seem on an uncalibrated monitor — see How does calibration of my monitor affect viewing of my photos on other monitors? – mattdm Sep 29 '15 at 14:09
  • @mattdn I just had a thought, Im usng a labtop but with a plugged in monitor, so I unplugged to see what the image looked like my laptop monitor and the image was pretty much the same on each monitor. Then I checked on my wifes monitor and again was about the same. So although Im going to properly calibrate my monitor(s) it seems more likely the problem is with the printer, but Im suprised as this is a professional printers - could it misunderstanding an embedded colour profile in the image ? – Paul Taylor Sep 29 '15 at 15:01
  • @AbdulNQuraishi I notice that when I export it its defaulting to SRGB profile, I then tried reexporting it to AdobeRGB and this looked more like the printed image, Ill upload both versions – Paul Taylor Sep 30 '15 at 8:11
  • @PaulTaylor generally, inkjet printers can auto adjust to match the image on the screen, but there is an option to use user defined. It is possible that the printing company has a user defined profile and therefore, you need to match that profile when you export. Brightening will not really help the image for reasons you have mentioned in the other comments. If you send an Adobe RGB and they convert it to sRGB, then that will also make it darker but the other way round, it will make the image brighter. You will need to check with printers – Abdul Quraishi Sep 30 '15 at 8:25
  • @AbdulNQuraishi pleae looks at the images I have linked to, dont you think that the sRGB image is brighter, as in less dark – Paul Taylor Sep 30 '15 at 10:12
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I have an answer of sorts.

We revisited this with the printshop. They printed 20 different images that I supplied as jpegs with embedded rgb, I dont full understand the process but basically they printed three versions of the images:

  1. They sent images as rgb to printer and it managed the colour management itself
  2. Converted the images from rgb to fogra27 profile and sent to printer
  3. Increased brightness of images by 5% and sent to printer as rgb again.

Results were that in most cases there was no discernible difference between <1> and <2>, but when there were certain blues and greens <1> came out better than <2>, and <2> looked a bit weird. <3> was only better for a few images where I add too many shadows and needed to do some additional post processing.

Unfortunately the printshop is not happy do runs using <1> because they don't believe the printer can do consistent results, they will only do <2>.

So I am looking at fix the shadows for some images, and soft proofing to fogra27 to try and make some adjustments to resolve the colour differences.

1

If your prints are too dark, the chances are that your displays are set to too high brightness (for photography editing). If that's the case here, you are artificially decreasing brightness of the image in the editor to match the display. There are several solutions in LR.

  1. Lower brightness of the display. There is no number that works for every environment, but you can start with brightness values around 100cd/m2. Or you can lower it until the display matches the picture. This is a bit tricky, because the match depends on light reflected off the print, which you should keep stable at all times. Also, cheaper displays won't give maximum performance if set to too low brightness.
  2. Judge and adjust brightness of the image in the editor against white background, not black.
  3. There is a setting option in the print panel that allows tweaking the lightness. So you would leave the display as bright as you want and set compensation here.
  • 1
    1. Ive checked various displays and they all render the image about the same I think its reasonably calibrated. Also I dont just use the computer for photography, its need to be suitable for general use. Also the brightness was set to 63/100 even if I set to 0/100 its still not as dark as the printed output. – Paul Taylor Sep 30 '15 at 7:58
  • 3. Im not doing the printing, its being set there but Ive done some more checking and whilst reducing exposure by 1 in lightroom makes the dark bits of my image as dark as the image that was printed its make the lighter parts of the image darker then the printed image. i.e th eif I asked them to lighten the image it would probably mean the darks were correct but the lights are to light, do you think this is a colourspace problem - I notice that when I exported my images as jpegs its defaulting to the sRGB colourspace. – Paul Taylor Sep 30 '15 at 8:04

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