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I'm wondering what setting(s) I am messing up that is causing a photo to print all dark areas as solid black.

The photo is below.

With the print, everything from the eyes up and to the right side of the photo appears pure black. All detail in the nose is gone as well.

I'm using a Canon Pro 10, print settings set to Matte Photo Paper, Photoshop handling color as relative colormetric, black point comp set to false, and ICC profile is for the paper, Hahnemuhle Albrecht Durer.

Any help is greatly appreciated!

enter image description here

  • How does it compare to the print preview, View menu>Proof colours [on], Proof Setup > set to your paper profile; & is your entire workflow calibrated accurately? [Simplest mistake is to have your monitor profile set as your Working Space] – Tetsujin Dec 17 '17 at 17:58
  • Oooh... & black-point comp always on, is what I was told. Have never tested whether that is 'better' or not, though. – Tetsujin Dec 17 '17 at 18:05
  • @Tetsujin, I found some Canon docs that advise setting the black point to off so that's what I went with. As far as calibrating, I've yet to actually calibrate anything, though the Spyder is waiting for me to do the monitor. – Hueco Dec 18 '17 at 0:38
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    @Corey If you haven't calibrated/profiled your monitor you are just shooting in the dark. Most uncalibrated/profiled monitors are set WAY too bright. – Michael C Dec 18 '17 at 3:10
  • @MichaelClark, I figured the NEC defaults were probably okay - and on some full color shots they were just slightly off. But I'll profile it and try again I suppose. – Hueco Dec 18 '17 at 4:02
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You can calibrate and profile your monitor all you want (but do be sure to set screen and ambient brightness as well as the color tones to industry standards).

You can do printer calibration all you want.

You can soft proof all you want.

But my experience has been that with very dark images the prints you wind up with are almost always darker than the image you see on the monitor. It seems that most printers use the very darkest areas of the image to make up the stop or so difference between our typical decently-high-quality 8-bit monitors and the best inkjet papers available.

The closest prints I have found to what I see with a dark image on the monitor are made on light sensitive (NOT inkjet) metallic photo paper. I get mine done by one of the largest photo printing services in the U.S. They currently use 'Kodak Endura Metallic Paper'. I have to boost exposure by about 1/2 stop from what I see on my monitor (before the boost) with a mostly dark image to get a print back that looks like what I saw on the monitor. When I do that, though, the subtle differences are there in the dark areas of the image.

I've yet to actually calibrate anything, though the Spyder is waiting for me to do the monitor.

If you haven't calibrated/profiled your monitor you are just shooting in the dark. Most uncalibrated/profiled monitors are set WAY too bright.

Almost all monitors are shipped with the contrast and brightness set to 100% because when they are sitting next to each other in a store most people think the brighter monitor looks "better." When they are new most monitors need brightness and contrast settings of about 50% to be correct. As monitors age the brightness and contrast settings need to be gradually increased to get the same output levels.

(P.S. I have my IPS LCD monitors set to output at 120 cd/m² at pure white. A typical new monitor comes from the factory putting out about 250-300 cd/m² when set to 100% brightness.)

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    But my experience has been that with very dark images the prints you wind up with are almost always darker than the image you see on the monitor. <-- This. I'm no expert at printing, color cal, etc., but it seems to me there's going to be a fundamental difference between projected light/color from a monitor, vs. reflected light/color from a print. Especially with shadows / near-black. – scottbb Dec 17 '17 at 21:05
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    I am a fan of the Kodak Endura Metallic. Used to get them done through Millers (mpix). Really like the Hahn papers - though I guess I'll have to figure out how much to lighten the photo before printing to get it nailed down. – Hueco Dec 18 '17 at 2:07
  • @scottbb The difference between emitted light and reflected light is definitely a factor, but so is the difference between different papers and finishings. Using matte paper and then laminating/coating after printing will almost always muddy the dark areas of the image compared to printing on high gloss paper that does not require laminating after printing. – Michael C Dec 18 '17 at 4:50

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