Printing and Profiles

Hey everyone! I am looking for some help in understanding the role of profiles. I have done all of my prints using Bay Photo Lab so far. My question is, with all the different mediums you can print on there, how does one profile even begin to simulate those different options? I have seen where a printer/paper combo will have a profile. I’m just wondering if it is worth going through the hassle of soft proofing with the ICC profile applied or if I should just make some consistent adjustments (slight increases to contrast, brightness, and vibrance, I am planning to use a method shared in a video by @Sean_Bagshaw).

Those of you who have printed with shops like Bay Photo, do you have them do any adjustments after the fact or do you just send them the jpeg?

I understand the best course of action here is probably a bit of trial and error, I’m just trying to limit the number of errors!

Hey Dave! I don’t have any experience with Bay Photo Lab in particular, but in general, I definitely think it’s worthwhile to do soft proofing using ICC profiles.

That said, I think you’ll find that some media require you to make fewer adjustments to your photos than others before printing. For example, when I print on Canon Luster paper, I really don’t have to do much - just lift the exposure and open up the shadows just a bit. However, if you’re printing on something with a mat finish, or on something that has a bit more warmth or coolness to it, you’ll need to work the image more.

I think this could work as a shortcut if you find a medium that you consistently use for prints, but I would think of it as a starting point. Personally, I would still do a final check using the appropriate ICC profile.

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I second what Nick said and want to add that perhaps the most useful part of soft proofing is seeing what colors are out of gamut (i.e. the printer is unable to print that color on that paper). From there, you can make better informed decisions on rendering intent (e.g. perceptual will shift all colors, relative colormetric will shift just out of gamut colors) or manually adjusting those areas yourself. If an out of gamut area is a large/important part of the photograph, I’ll often do a hard proof on a 5x7 of just that area to see what it looks like.

Does anyone have resources that were helpful as the learned this process? What I’m finding is that I’m really confused moving from the point where I like the image into sharpening, resizing, and finally preparing for print. I need a repeatable process and I don’t have that yet so I’m open to all help!

It is extremely confusing! If it helps, that’s normal :slight_smile:

I bought 2 video tutorials from @Mark_Metternich and found them invaluable. Here’s a link to his page: https://www.markmetternich.com/VIDEO-TUTORIALS/VIDEO-TUTORIALS-PAGE

“MASTERING FINE ART PRINTING and COLOR MANAGEMENT” directly addresses what you’re talking about with color management, and " THE ULTIMATE SHARPENING WORKFLOW FOR FINE ART PRINTING" is great for sharpening.

@Brent_Clark That’s funny, I just emailed him yesterday asking for some more info on those. Trying to decicde if that is the best route or setting up a 1:1 with him to go over it.

Thanks for the suggestions!

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Don’t forget to calibrate your monitor. Otherwise the lab will see a different image than what you’re seeing.

Thanks @Igor_Doncov I have it calibrated using DisplayCal…hopefully with the right settings! That program has a ton of options so I hope I set it up right, if I did, then colors should be accurate. I just sent a test print to Bay Photo today to see how it looks.

@davewallace - I’m sure Mark will be able to get you dialed in. Bay Photo is great for efficiency, cost and options with good enough results. I use their profile for soft proofing for both prints on paper and canvas and have had good results with both. Of course, you’d expect a different profile for different print outputs…and I would prefer that. But Bay does a huge volume and isn’t catering to the highest fine art standard I don’t think. Lower volume/more niche labs like HD Aluminum or Nevada Art Printers have dedicated profiles, a more hands-on workflow and certain specialties. I know Mark has a lot of experience with Nevada Art Printers and how to proof with their profiles.

@Sean_Bagshaw that makes a lot of sense. When I look at the different websites, the two you mentioned have more of a “mom and pop” feel to them. My guess is that working a process out with Bay Photo is probably the best bang for my buck right now, but once I get my sea legs moving on to a more personalized service would make sense. It would be cool to find a local shop that prints at such a high standard, but my guess is those are becoming harder and harder to find.

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