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04-21-2022, 01:18 PM   #1
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Soft proofing

I'm wondering how many folks use the soft proofing option found in more advanced photo editing software to see how their images might appear on a particular medium. Do you consider this an essential step before printing or sending your images to a commercial printer? For commercial printing, do most places supply ICC files or do you get them from the paper/medium supplier? Is it something you can get right the first time, or do you need to do more than just load the ICC file by tweaking other settings?


This isn't something I've looked into before. Whatever printing I've done has not exceeded sizes beyond 9x12, and much of that was done just to see how the printed images compared to what I was looking at on my non-calibrated screens. But as I'm thinking about printing a few larger images it is something I've been trying to explore.

04-21-2022, 01:32 PM   #2
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I've never been able to wrap my head around the concept of soft proofing. For now, I just make them look good on my monitor and send off to a local Walgreens. I tried having a local camera store print them, and they were worse, so stuck with Walgreens. Lol
04-21-2022, 03:16 PM   #3
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I usually go with the trial-and-error method when I have my prints made someplace new.
As I work with an uncalibrated monitor anyway, I don't see the point in soft proofing my images. So far I am familiar with 4 printing services and I know how to tweak my images for each suppliere so the prints look good.

In my opinion is soft proofing more relevant when you want to print something big/expensive, but for those cases you can get a small test print done to check the resulting colors.
04-21-2022, 04:43 PM - 2 Likes   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by MSL Quote
I'm wondering how many folks use the soft proofing option found in more advanced photo editing software to see how their images might appear on a particular medium. Do you consider this an essential step before printing or sending your images to a commercial printer? For commercial printing, do most places supply ICC files or do you get them from the paper/medium supplier? Is it something you can get right the first time, or do you need to do more than just load the ICC file by tweaking other settings?


This isn't something I've looked into before. Whatever printing I've done has not exceeded sizes beyond 9x12, and much of that was done just to see how the printed images compared to what I was looking at on my non-calibrated screens. But as I'm thinking about printing a few larger images it is something I've been trying to explore.

Are you printing or having someone else print?

http://digitaldog.net/files/08Soft%20Proofing%20explained.pdf

04-21-2022, 07:45 PM - 3 Likes   #5
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I will use soft proofing in Photoshop with the Out of Gamma warning turned on. If there large areas off the sky that are out of the printer limits, for instance, I may try fixing the image. I also use it to see qualitatively how much darker my whites will be based on the paper color.

Do I trust my monitor to match the print? Heck no! I have either 4x6 or 8x10 sheets that I do test prints on to check colors before I do my large 16x20 prints. (I have my own printer.) The smaller sheets are the exact same supplier and media type as the large paper so I know the colors will match.
04-21-2022, 10:57 PM - 1 Like   #6
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The commercial printer I send my images to supplies ICC profiles for download, but I find for my purposes, sticking with sRGB to be good enough.

Test prints will give you a much better idea of the the final product than soft proofing, although good advice above about looking for out of gamut warnings.

Monitor calibration is useful , but I would suggest the most important thing is to make sure your monitor is not set too bright for photographic editing..... most are..... straight from the factory. The most common complaint about prints is that they are too dark. Monitor brightness is usually the culprit, but do not forget also that the light you view your print under will have a big effect, and this is where test prints can guide you far better than soft proofing.
04-22-2022, 04:25 AM   #7
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It depends on how adept and how much control you want with your color Printing. If you want complete control then your equipment needs to be of the quality that can be accurately calibrated and as mentioned you need the printing companies or your printer ICC profiles for the type medium you want them printed on. Then using soft proofing and saving using those proofed images can be of great value.... If your sending photos to a printing lab then usually they will send you their printer ICC profiles and will give you the option to use your proofed files or process your files for color at their facility. If your using creative coloring then the second option may not work out well for what you are intending them to look like.

04-22-2022, 07:42 AM - 2 Likes   #8
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FWIW, Scott Kelby (kind of a LR and PS guru---but not a cultist, actually, as he can be critical of Adobe as well), thinks soft proofing is horsefeathers. His attitude is that screens look like screens, and prints look like prints. One medium is emissive, and the other reflective. I agree.
04-22-2022, 11:58 AM   #9
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Soft proofing is only as good as its implementation and interpretation. Reflected light is not the same as transmitted light. They can be made and interpreted as analogous, same as a 2 3/4 x 16" test strip can be analogous to a 16 x 20" print. To do so takes managing the hardware, software, environment and user. Many hobbyist will never benefit fully from the expense of time and money. Experience matters either way. Calibrating a display is great for adding consistency to what is seen on screen, but will never make the screen match a print. The Canon DPP (and a couple others - used to) have a ring around feature that was handy/easy to see how the printer handled some adjustments in relation to how the same adjustments look when made in the editing SW. Of course with a little effort one can automate/script many current editing SW to do the same. They make a good reference for users who use many different paper stocks or printer/inksets.
04-25-2022, 06:30 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Mooncatt Quote
I've never been able to wrap my head around the concept of soft proofing. For now, I just make them look good on my monitor and send off to a local Walgreens. I tried having a local camera store print them, and they were worse, so stuck with Walgreens. Lol
One of the things I found early on when printing at various outlets is that they have a setting to either turn on or turn off their own corrections. I found that once I'd tinkered with a photo to a look that I liked, if I didn't force them not to apply their own color corrections, it always made the image worse.
04-25-2022, 08:11 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by othar Quote
In my opinion is soft proofing more relevant when you want to print something big/expensive, but for those cases you can get a small test print done to check the resulting colors.
That's probably what I'd do if I was working with a local printer that I could visit, but so far I've used one semi-local company and had stuff shipped and I'm looking at another well recommended one that is in another province.

QuoteOriginally posted by JohnMc Quote
Are you printing or having someone else print?

I'm looking to have someone else print.

---------- Post added 04-25-22 at 11:17 PM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by MaineNative Quote
Do I trust my monitor to match the print? Heck no! I have either 4x6 or 8x10 sheets that I do test prints on to check colors before I do my large 16x20 prints. (I have my own printer.) The smaller sheets are the exact same supplier and media type as the large paper so I know the colors will match
That's a good point. I'm not expecting things to match but I am trying to avoid huge shifts in colors or other unexpected changes as much as possible.


QuoteOriginally posted by pschlute Quote
Monitor calibration is useful , but I would suggest the most important thing is to make sure your monitor is not set too bright for photographic editing..... most are..... straight from the factory. The most common complaint about prints is that they are too dark. Monitor brightness is usually the culprit, but do not forget also that the light you view your print under will have a big effect, and this is where test prints can guide you far better than soft proofing.

This is something I've known for a while and I've largely avoided the problem by tuning my monitor down when working on prints. For my office computer I have three screens - the laptop + 2 very different bigger monitors, so at the very least any image I view there shows me three different versions at different brightness and contrast.

QuoteOriginally posted by texandrews Quote
FWIW, Scott Kelby (kind of a LR and PS guru---but not a cultist, actually, as he can be critical of Adobe as well), thinks soft proofing is horsefeathers. His attitude is that screens look like screens, and prints look like prints. One medium is emissive, and the other reflective. I agree.
Another good point and I'd go beyond that and say even printing will depend on the medium, and doing nothing more than changing from glossy to matte can make a big difference which is why I have a couple of images I've printed on more than one medium just to see the variations that can occur. Of course this was a lot simpler when Black's used to exist and would have $1 sales on 8x10 prints which made it a much cheaper experiment to do.
04-26-2022, 09:37 AM   #12
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Find a local lab/service that you can walk in with your image on a flash drive. You likely have many choices in your area. Learn how to apply a gray scale (11 steps) to an image in whatever editing SW you're using. Before you pick one talk to them about what they want from you in terms of profiles colorspace etc.
04-26-2022, 12:24 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by JohnMc Quote
Learn how to apply a gray scale (11 steps) to an image in whatever editing SW you're using
This sounds like a useful step, but not one I've heard about before. Can you point me to something that explains this?
04-26-2022, 02:30 PM   #14
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It's nothing but a standard point of reference, something that can be used to compare/correct exposure or color concerns or as a reference as to what your file looks like when nothing is changed but say the inkset or ink density or paper or any of the other myriad changes/adjustments possible. Whether you use a 7, 11, or 21 step gray scale or a color checker ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ColorChecker ). Variations will be there with or w/o the reference, but the reference affords you a comparative, but they're not without potential bias sometimes several ( Shirley Cards - 99% Invisible ) so you still need to be able to interpret. The point of the refernce here, is for you to have a printed visual record to look back at and learn from going forward. If you're really just talkingabout having a couple bigger prints made w/o much more involvement then to send the file somewhere and do trial and error that way.
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