Printing images PLEASE HELP
Hello fellow Nikonians. I need some expert advice here.
I was shooting jpegs with my D600, and the images looked terrible. Based on feedback from some members here, I'm now shooting RAW, and doing my own post-processing with phenomenal results. On screen, my images look brilliant, exactly as I want them to look.
Now, the problem ...
When I send my converted images to be printed at a reputable lab here in London, Ontario, Canada, my prints look nothing like they look on screen. The colours shift, the prints aren't as sharp, and there's an overall dull cast that dampens the vividness of my shots.
So I talked to the lab tech, and followed these steps on her advice:
-make my edits to the RAW files in Aperture
-export the files into Photoshop as 16-bit tiff files
-apply the colour profile of the printer that I was able to download from the lab
-save the image as an 8-bit jpeg and upload it for printing
My monitor is calibrated, the colour profile matches my lab's printer, and I do very basic edits in post-processing.
This has been a nagging issue for me for weeks.
Can anyone recommend a workflow process that I can use in Aperture without having to use Photoshop as well?
Most importantly, can anyone give me any advice on how to have my photos printed so they look like they do on the screen?
Where's the gap? What do I need to do to get accurate prints? I don't understand why this is so difficult. We have technology to run an electrical current along a molecule, but my prints don't match my screen. This has been driving me nuts for months.
Thanks to all for your help.
#1. "RE: Printing images PLEASE HELP" | In response to Reply # 0
DaveSoderlund Nikonian since 29th May 2010Fri 26-Jul-13 01:11 PM | edited Fri 26-Jul-13 01:11 PM by DaveSoderlund
I hope that some Aperture-using printing guru jumps in here and solves your problem. Meanwhie, though I am not sure I have all your answers I can at least tell you what I do. It's not all that complex, and it seems to work.
There are two parts to my workflow, one Mac-specific and one photo lab-specific.
On the Mac side, I shoot RAW, do postprocessing in Aperture and (usually) components of the Nik Suite. The last step is output sharpening -- I use Nik Sharpener Pro 3, optimized for the type of end product (digital display or print). I do this for every one of my images that leaves aperture, either for web display or printing. If you are unhappy with the sharpness of your prints, matching your output sharpening to the end product may help.
The photo lab-specific stuff begins when I export my image from Aperture. This depends on the specifications (resolution in ppi, color space, printer profile, etc) provided by my lab. One important variable that gets overlooked is image brightness -- we tend to like our computer displays bright, and if I do not back off on display brightness when preparing images to print I will get significant disparities between the displayed and printed image.
For printing I work with an outfit called iPrintFromHome in Buffalo, NY. They offer a downloadable test image as a jpg file and will send you a packet of 4x6 prints of the same image on all of the paper media that they offer (both inkjet and photographic process). When my image on the screen looks (in terms of brightness and color rendition) like the same image that they've printed using the process/paper I plan to use then I have confidence that with appropriate sharpening the print will come out like I want.
Hope some of this is useful,
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#2. "RE: Printing images PLEASE HELP" | In response to Reply # 1
MrSpock2013 Registered since 29th May 2013Fri 26-Jul-13 01:43 PM
Some great bits of advice here, Dave. I appreciate you sharing your process.
Currently, my problem is colour ... See attached photo ... I've got a beautiful range of blues, and the two different printers I experimented with here can't reproduce what you see on the screen. The blues morph into purple, and the entire shot has a bizarre, muted look that dulls the colours.
I don't understand how I can:
(1) shoot RAW
(2) convert to jpeg after postprocessing
(3) create an image that looks excellent on a screen
(4) send this identical file for printing and get something totally different
My images are pure computer data, and I don't understand what's happening.
I, too, hope an Aperture guru can shed some light here.
Thanks again, Dave.
Attachment #1, (jpg file)
#3. "RE: Printing images PLEASE HELP" | In response to Reply # 2
lajolla Nikonian since 03rd Nov 2005Fri 26-Jul-13 08:45 PM | edited Sat 27-Jul-13 01:08 AM by lajolla
Thanks for sharing the image - very nice ultrablue and purple hues - and you should be able to get those hues on a print from a good lab. All good labs utilize the latest color management technology. A lab's digital systems are calibrated and profiled, enabling accurate and consistent control. When the lab tech sees a display of an image on their calibrated monitors, what they see should match closely with the same printed image from any of their various printing output devices. But different computer systems and output devices will display and print files differently. What you see on your monitor will likely be different from what the lab sees on their monitor. But the differences should not be as great as you clearly are obtaining, especially if you have calibrated your own monitor.
You do not necessarily need to use Photoshop in order to export the appropriate file your lab requests. They have given you their own color printer profile from the version of Photoshop they use. And then they are asking you to export the file from Aperture into Photoshop as a 16-bit tiff file - and then applying their printer profile to the image in your own copy of Photoshop. You shouldn't have to export the file from Aperture to Photoshop as a 16 bit TIFF just to add their printer and printer color profiles. But you can if you want. Aperture allows you to use Photoshop as an external editor and many people choose to do so for many good reasons. But I think it preferable to simply export your image to the lab directly from Aperture - setting your Aperture export file specifications to what your lab requires. If you still are getting strange shifts in your colors with the labs printed output, the problem likely is with the lab and their own color management system?
If you checkout the latest Aperture manual (for version 3.4.5) regarding Chapter 18 printing images and Chapter 19 exporting images, you will get a clearer idea of what I am referring to:
#4. "RE: Printing images PLEASE HELP" | In response to Reply # 2
luckyphoto Nikonian since 27th Dec 2010Sat 27-Jul-13 02:20 PM
Because you are shooting RAW, you can at least exclude the camera as the problem.
It may be that the ICC color profiles are being mixed. Inside Aperture 3 you are probably working with sRGB or ProPhoto RGB when adjusting the RAW photo. Then importing into Photoshop as a TIFF will likely turn the color profile into AdobeRGB. Adobe RGB has some slightly different colors for the same R, G, and B values as sRGB.
The other thing to be aware of is that many print labs have an option to color correct the photo. Make sure that is turned off.
You might explore those areas.
"Red is gray and yellow white, but we decide which is right
....and which is an illusion"
Moody Blues - Nights in White Satin
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#5. "RE: Printing images PLEASE HELP" | In response to Reply # 0
>So I talked to the lab tech, and followed these steps on her
>-make my edits to the RAW files in Aperture
>-export the files into Photoshop as 16-bit tiff files
>-apply the colour profile of the printer that I was able to
>download from the lab
>-save the image as an 8-bit jpeg and upload it for printing
When you "apply" a color profile in Photoshop, are you converting it or assigning it? It's important that you convert it. Assigning it will definitely mess up your color. Quite frankly, if I print something at a commercial printer, I'll often just use sRGB in those situations due to inconsistencies with labs. At home, I'll use a wider color space.