• Dawn McCall

Photography Workshop- Soft proofing

Updated: Mar 27


Have you ever tried to print a picture and it looks totally different from what is show on the computer screen? Well your not alone, many people have this problem. This is because are screens have more dynamic range than are printers are able to print but there are ways around this problem. The first step is to calibrate your monitor. We can do this by using some calibration software. There are many different ones on the market, top ones are colormunki, Spyder and X-rite's to name some. Which ever one you choose the main thing is that monitor is calibrated so your know what you see on the screen is what you are printing, otherwise how do you know?. The second is to calibrate your printer so your printer sees what your screen sees. You can do this through software again or use paper profiles that come with your printer/photo paper. Some companies have there paper profiles on that website to download or some can make them for you like fotospeed. The point being how would your printer know what colours to print if it can't communicate with your monitor. Now we have are monitor communicating to are printer we can think about printing.



Printing your Photo

When you have found that perfect picture you want to print and we have calibrated are monitor/printer next we need to open it up in a photo editor software that supports icc profiles which is a set of data that characterizes a color input or output device, or a color space, according to standards promulgated by the International Color Consortium. Photoshop and Lightroom are the main programs for this.


Soft Proofing

Before we press that print button why not try soft proofing it first. So what is soft proofing I hear you say? Well it is a process that allows you to preview the way the print will looks before we print and waste that paper/ink because its not right. To set up soft proofing in photoshop, go to View > Proof Setup > Custom.


In Device to Simulate this is are Paper Profile we are using. I'm using ones that came with my Canon printer which are already installed and I'm using a Luster paper. So I've selected the Luster option SG2/LU2.

In Rendering Intent we are only interested in two, Perceptual and Relative Colorimetric. Perceptual compresses the range of colours to match the gamut of the printer, while trying to maintain the perceptual relationship between the colours, so therefore adjusts all the colours in the image. Relative Colorimetric simply removes the colours that it can't print so doesn't change any of the colours. This is my go to setting as I like to keep the colours that are in my photos and looks more natural. The choice is yours. Tick Simulate Paper Colour and click OK.


Now we can quickly toggle soft proofing on and of by pressing Command + Y (on a Mac) or Control + Y (on a PC). Now we can see what are picture looks like as it shows on screen and what it will look like when it is printed (soft proofed) . Typically the image will look darker and muddy when soft proofed so at this stage it is best to duplicate the image so one is are soft proofed image and the other is are original. Now we just alter the proof version to look like the original one.


Above: Here I have made two copies of my image. The big image is my soft proofed image and the smaller one on the right is my original. To alter the image to make them the same we can use the Adjustment Panel on the right of the screen (Enlarged below)


I use Colour Balance and Brightness/ Contrast to adjust my photo. When you are happy they look the same you can now print your soft proofed image.


Now you have a that prefect print

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