I am about to have a digital image printed to be mounted and framed and hung in a fairly dark hallway that has very little natural light and only one light bulb.

Should I prepare the print in lightroom in a particular way to allow for this? Maybe increasing the contrast, brightness, saturation etc?

  • Is it at all possible to light the print?
    – Evan Krall
    Mar 15, 2011 at 4:23
  • its possible but not something I am prepared to do at the moment.
    – Si Keep
    Mar 15, 2011 at 8:31

4 Answers 4


I believe it would depend on the subject of the print. If the subject is dark and moody you may not want to make any changes, on the other hand if it is meant to be bright and shiny then you may want to lighten the mid-tones and increase the contrast. If possible I would print out a handful of tests and look at them in similar lighting conditions to see if making such changes helped the image tell its story.


I wouldn't necessarily say you need to prepare the image in lightroom in any particular way. More important than the RGB pixels would be the type of paper you print on. Some papers are manufactured with optical brighteners, which usually rely on there being some level of UV present in the illuminant to bring out the right color and tonal range from the paper.

If you are printing your photo for viewing under artificial light in a hallway that does not generally receive natural light, I would specifically choose a natural paper, one that is guaranteed to not include any optical brightening. I would also avoid anything beyond a low level of semigloss/luster. Any shiny papers are likely to create pronounced glare when viewed under a single light source.

Natural fiber matte papers are probably the best choice. If the image has a fairly high dynamic range, or is particularly high or low key, you might want to carefully select your white and black points. Many natural fiber matte papers have more limited dynamic range than papers with optical brighteners and glossy papers. Black point is a particular sufferer, and if you use an unbleached paper, white pint can suffer as well. Adjusting black and white point in Photoshop while using print proof preview mode will ensure that you replicate as much detail as you can on the paper you choose.


I don't think you should treat it any differently. Human eyes automatically adjust to ambient lighting conditions so changing it in any way will only make it look odd.

How will you be printing the image? Be sure to check that the colour profile (Adobe RGB/sRGB etc) is compatible with the device that is printing; it would probably be best to convert it to sRGB if it's not already to ensure the printout isn't too dark.

  • I'm not sure this is exactly true. While you may not necessarily need to change the RGB image via contrast, saturation, etc., what you print on can play a significant role in how the print looks when artificially lit in a dark place.
    – jrista
    Mar 14, 2011 at 19:42
  • I have had a very different experience. I printed a fairly bright scene for the corner of my room. On the monitor it looks great, with vivid colors and good contrast. In the corner, the shadows were impossible to see, and overall the colors seemed bland. I had to move it to a bright room for it to look decent.
    – rm999
    Mar 14, 2011 at 20:25
  • @rm999: Out of curiosity, what kind of paper did you print on? Did the paper have optical brighteners?
    – jrista
    Mar 14, 2011 at 20:27
  • I did two prints from Black River Imaging, "dry mounting" and metallic. Not sure if they have brighteners.
    – rm999
    Mar 14, 2011 at 20:43
  • The metallic paper might be why...those papers have some unique properties. I would expect a metallic paper base to really help with the saturated colors. You might have benefited a little bit from some black point adjustment...black tonal range can be rather limited when printing.
    – jrista
    Mar 14, 2011 at 21:38

Since in a hallway passer-bys would not be there long enough to dark adapt, it would probably be worth brightening the image. Usually when printing to your own printer you can make a gamma adjustment which is a more natural brightening than just a simple "brightness" adjustment, a good thing to try would be a Levels adjustment where you adjust the center slider to push all the values to the right of the histogram.

Try an 8x10 test print with the new brightness adjustments and see how it looks in the area under consideration, or in similar lighting.

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