Book Design and Imaging

Locked Ideal lightness of image for printing..

I’ve read info re photos will sometimes print darker than those onscreen (due to monitor lighting). Can anyone tell me (besides doing a print out to check), how many shades lighter should I make the hue on a photo to safe guard against a dark print occuring? For example, as a matter of course, should I automatically make photos 2 shades lighter (than the original) to cover myself?

 Thanks,

Tanya

Posted by
TanyaJ
Jul 28, 2008 1:31am PDT
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TanyaJ
 

Hi Tanya;

By definition; that’s an impossible question to answer, because it would depend on each and every user having the same monitor set-up, and each and every printer having precisely the same calibration! Equally, all images have differing "colour-values", so each one needs to be treated differntly!

The best you can do is to ensure that your own monitor is colour-calibrated. Normally, we have a tendancy to set the brightness on screen way too high. That naturally leads us to adjusting images for the screen; but, in reality, they are way too dark. So, the problem (although it does exist) is not so much with "dark printing" but with the original image being too dark.

If you are serious about your imaging, there are many tools available for screen-calibration. One is free if you have an Adobe product on board (such as the free pdf reader). Go to your control panel, and select "Adobe Gamma" and follow the instructions.

If you want better calibration then check out "Pantone Huey" or "Spyder" (just Google them)...

Cheers;

Lee

Posted by
lkb-28
Jul 28, 2008 1:45am PDT
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lkb-28
 

I have a similar sort of problem/question as Tanya. I have spent a lot of time reading these forums in an effort to make sure I was doing everything I could to get the best result but when my test book came back the images were still dark.

I calibrated my monitor with a spyder, carefully adjusted the images with Lightroom, softproofed them with Photoshop, checked them on other monitors, even looked at them on my TV but the test book still came back with the images much darker than I thought they would be. Even the book preview (http://www.blurb.com/books/282755) shows the images the way I want them.

Is a solution to manually adjust the settings of my monitor until I get the images I was using for my test book to match the images in the book and then use that setting to process all my images?

Greg

Posted by
calisota
Aug 27, 2008 8:42pm PDT
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calisota
 

Greg,

As for your book turned out darker than what you had expected, as you described the progress you did in Lightroom, Photoshop and did some softproofing.

I would think that you do the right approach. It is just that it takes lot of time, tweaking techniques around Photoshop. Best to do softproof in Photoshop rather than Lightroom (or Aperture). You probably will need to do a couple of “round trips” back forth between softproof and go back editing the image.

You didn’t mentioned that if you had downloaded the HP Indigo ICC profile. If you haven’t done this so, have a look at:

You need to download two things from Bonsai Photography site, be sure to read the info in its entirety before downloading those two files.
http://www.bonsai-photography.com/

In addition to HP Indigo Printer ICC profile, you need to make sure that ALL of your images converted to the sRGB ICC color profile. That is what Blurb BookSmart’s color profile. Plus, convert all of your images to 300 DPI resolution.

Once you have established the progression of converting the right color profile (sRGB) and 300 DPI resolution, along with updated monitor calibration (do this reguarly.. some says once a month, some say twice a month, I usually do this once a week… for extremely complicated project, FOR that project working on, daily basis until completion of THAT project), and all that.

I know it sounds like a little nutty step all together, but that is what it makes a better outcome with continuation of tweaking on many “round trip” back forth in Photoshop during softproofing step.

Color management is a constantly a big challenge, even for creative professionals or pro photographers. But once you understand the importance of follow-through all steps, the more comfort zone you eventually be felt in time.

Also… always a good idea to do a first twenty (20) pages of TEST proof book, so you have a better idea what to expect. If it turns out nicely than you expected, go for next stage of next step to incorporate more images. If you see something has not met your expectation, you can always fix this or that.

I hope that works for you, no? Just let us know if you need some further help or clarification.

Cheers, Brian
A passionate Blurbarian

Posted by
brianbonitz
Aug 27, 2008 11:31pm PDT
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brianbonitz
 

Thanks for your reply Brian.

Just out of curiosity I took the images I used in the test book to my local Kmart  and printed them at one of their booths. They ended up oloking identical in terms of colour and brightness to the images in the test book so this may be a good way of triple checking.

I have no problem doing as many test books as needed before I embark on my major projects. They look to be in excess of 200 pages each and I’d hate to do all that, get them back and think "If only I’d spent a bit more time on…"

I love the booksmart software and anyone who has seen the test book has been impressed even if I know it could have been better.

 Greg

Posted by
calisota
Aug 28, 2008 5:32am PDT
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calisota
 

Hello Greg,

Ah! I now understand what’s the situation with your test book being done at your local Kmart print booth. As you realize that, for any ‘third-party’ print booths like Kmart or Costco and few others that some other Blurbarians tried to test their test books over there. So, I have no idea what kind of printer Kmart use. I am pretty sure that their printer is different from Blurb’s outsourced printers (on contract with Blurb) operating with HP Indigo printers.

You might not realize that EACH third-party print providers have different kinds of printer equipment, different ICC print set up, and different kind of paper materials, and different kind of ink used. Among these things mentioned, it might be the reason why you are seeing some dark print published.

Have you tried this venue of having your test book to be published through Blurb? This might be of giving you a better idea how your test book looks as opposed to your experience with Kmart booth print.

Cheers,
Brian
A passionate Blubrbarian

Posted by
brianbonitz
Aug 28, 2008 5:24pm PDT
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brianbonitz
 

Whoops, sorry Brian, i didn’t explain myself very well.

I did have the test book printed by blurb and it is the one that is darker than I thought it would be. 

What I was trying to  achieve yesterday by printing the same images at Kmart was seeing if it was something intrinsic to having them printed that darkened them since every screen I looked at them on they looked okay. 

 Because the Kmart photos and the blurb test book photos are identical in terms of colour and brightness can I use Kmart as a means of "hardproofing" images after all the usual steps on screen before doing a test book again as a way of triple checking?

Greg

 

Posted by
calisota
Aug 28, 2008 6:25pm PDT
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calisota
 

Hi Greg,

Thanks for clarification.

Excellent!
Cheers,
Brian
A passionate Blurbarian

Posted by
brianbonitz
Aug 28, 2008 9:27pm PDT
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brianbonitz
 

Another thing to consider is the paper quality. Different papers absorb ink in different ways and to different degrees. User reports (and my own books) seem to indicate that Blurb’s paper/ink relationship results in darker images and slightly reduced image sharpness.

No matter how carefully you follow these troubleshooting steps, printing that first 20 page sample to test what your eye sees at home and what you get in printed book form is really quite necessary.

Then you can make final adjustments.
It’s really akin to the way an archer adjusts for wind speed.

Posted by
crookback
Sep 1, 2008 7:19pm PDT
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crookback
 

I’m going to set up an extra monitor on my PC since I just found that Lightroom 2 has dual a monitor feature. The second monitor I’ll calibrate to "Blurb", set from a couple of test books, and do my photo editing on that screen so I can keep the main one properly calibrated. Plus, it looks cool having two monitors.

Greg

 

Posted by
calisota
Sep 2, 2008 6:06pm PDT
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calisota
 

Hey Greg, great idea!     And I’ve still got my previous monitor.

I just love the new version of Lightroom, especially the Adjustment Brush and the improved links to CS3.

Thanks.

.......Tony

Posted by
tfrankland
Sep 2, 2008 11:48pm PDT
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tfrankland
 

Thanks Tony. I guess if I’m going to use up my one good idea for the year then this is a good subject for it. :-)

I haven’t played with the adjstment brush yet but it seems to be the thing that everyone is talking about.

Greg

 

Posted by
calisota
Sep 3, 2008 12:42am PDT
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calisota
 

Hi Greg and
Tony, and et. al.,

Last night I downloaded Adobe Lightroom 2, and I like what I saw in Lightroom 2. Although, I use Apple Aperture 2 since Apple released the first version of Aperture a couple years ago – not long ago, though. Along with Aperture version 1.x, I tested Adobe Lightroom at its early version. At the time, I prefer Aperture to Lightroom for some reason due to nice workflow.

It looks like that Adobe Lightroom makes a major improvement in the latest version. I’ll do some thorough test photos to compare between Aperture 2 and Lightroom 2. The Plug-in is included in Aperture, the latest version shows a significant improvement over the legacy version of Aperture. I’ll have to do some thorough testing with Lightroom 2, whether it has plug-in capacity.

I’d definitely want to take a close look at “roundtrip” workflow between Adobe Lightroom and Adobe Photoshop CS3.

For those who are not aware about Aperture, unfortunately, it is only available on Macintosh system architecture, while Adobe Lightroom is available on Macs and WIndows platform.

Cheers,
Brian, a passionate Blurbarian

Posted by
brianbonitz
Sep 3, 2008 2:24pm PDT
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brianbonitz
 

Brian & Tony -

Thank you for your many good posts. I have read your advice and am going to try to download these things to brighten up my books. Even after taking a Photoshop class, however, I still find it awkward to work with… but …!!!

Questions I have so far:

1. Will adjusting my images to be lighter for Blurb sacrifice detail from the photos?

2. Usually when I’ve played with images (esp. to lighten) they become grainier. I thought my last book was exceedinly grainy! (More so than a Blurb book from Spring 2007) Will I be out of the frying pan and into the fire?

I use a Casio 10.1 Exlim. Granted, not a Rocket Science camera. The Spring 2007 book was taken with a Kodak camera that had about 4mp. 

3. Wow, we’ve really lost that drag-in-the-box-and-enjoy-that book convenience, haven’t we? Why can’t Blurb just make—  ephiany!—everything lighter on their printers!!!?? 

Thanks for listening, friends! My recent book made me sad. 

- Kathy 

 

Posted by
Mombo
Sep 6, 2008 10:09am PDT
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Mombo
 

Not much time as I’m just off to the pub :-)

So I’ll answer what I can do quickly.

1 & 2 If you lighten a photo too much you will get noise, which will show as a form of grain.

I, personally, have not had a problem with photos printing too dark. That applies to ones I’ve softproofed as well as ones I’ve just dragged and dropped into a page. In my two books I have put a lot of effort into trying to get the colours of the wildlife and the landscape as close as possible to how I remember them, It is those photos that I have softproofed. One of the books has a travelogue section where I have photos related to the journey. I have not softproofed those. I re-sized them in Photoshop rather than using the BookSmart tools, but I had no problems with them turning out too dark. Though on some of them I had a problem with loss of detail in the shadows.

So I do not think there is a general problem with photos in Blurb books turning out too dark.

Of my current books the one which is just holiday snaps, I’m not bothering to softproof at all. The one which is wildlife photos I am softproofing.

A few questions for you.

Have you calibrated your monitor? I think that is more critical than softproofing. You do not need to buy a calibration device such as a Spyder, though they will give better results. If you have Adobe products (and you are using Windows) you may well have Adobe Gamma, which will do an adequate, if not brilliant, job. If not I can point you at a web site with a calibration engine that uses your eyes rather than a fancy device.

Have you turned up the brightness on your monitor? A common problem with prints that appear too dark (not just Blurb Books) is a monitor that has the brightness turned up, that leads to an unrealistic expectation of what the final print will look like.

Similarly a monitor that is not ideally lit (which can tempt  you to adjust the brightness or contrast). Is there a window behind you? Is there a desk lamp that partly shines on the monitor, are the lights in the room turned up high (assuming you can adjust them). All these factors can affect the way a print compares to how you see it on the screen.

I hope we haven’t lost that drag-in-the-box-and-enjoy-that book convenience as many of the books I have planned are family albums and holiday snaps and I want to create those quickly and easily. I tend these days to separate my "photos" from my "snaps". I am happy to put in the work for the former but not the latter.

I’ll re-read your post and my response again tomorrow when I’ll have more time and will get back to you if I have more to say.

But between us we’ll try and get rid of that sadness! Book making should be, and can be, fun.

Goodnight.

.........Tony

Posted by
tfrankland
Sep 6, 2008 2:04pm PDT
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tfrankland
 

Thanks for your encouragement, Tony.

So far all I’ve done is dig out photos printed since I started using this camera. Snapshots from Walgreens drug store and Shutterfly were satisfactory in color and clarity. Possibly they do auto-adjusting on color.

I understand the concept of calibration – the bright screens on laptops do spoil us, but I wouldn’t want to lose it for other utilities. Do you calibrate just for Blurb usage, then switch back?

This will sound dumb, but what is softproofing? I’ve never bothered any more than checking before uploading inside Blurb.

The pub bit made me smile! We’re from California but love visiting the UK and watch the EPL avidly.  Also looked at your very impressive Galapagos book preview. Photos like that deserve a book that is high quality!

Thanks again,

Kathy 

Posted by
Mombo
Sep 7, 2008 7:02pm PDT
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Mombo
 

Sorry—after writing the above, I found prior info from you and others regarding softproofing. Now I understand more!

Kathy 

Posted by
Mombo
Sep 7, 2008 8:56pm PDT
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Mombo
 

Hi Kathy,

As for your statement and question re: ”...I understand the concept of calibration – the bright screens on laptops do spoil us, but I wouldn’t want to lose it for other utilities. Do you calibrate just for Blurb usage, then switch back?...”

When you asked and wondered about doing some calibration just for Blurb usage… In two words, actually, no.

Ideally, you would like to calibrate monitor regularly – if you do this often with image editing or any other creative design project. For this nature of professional workflow, say working with images regularly, then having monitor calibrated – regularly. If you do this just for fun out of it, then it might not be any good idea.

As for keeping monitor brightened up, I want to give you a word of caution. Don’t do it. I have seen other participants doing this. I don’t recommend it highly. Why? It will cause the output turned terribly, if you say.. terribly dark.

Before doing calibration routine, be sure to keep your monitor set as factory setting, and please kindly refer to your monitor’s user manual book (either can be downloaded from monitor manufacturer or it comes with your monitor package – CD rom).

Hope that helps.

Cheers, Brian, a passionate Blurbarian

Posted by
brianbonitz
Sep 8, 2008 7:24pm PDT
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brianbonitz
 

As for softproofing procedure, if you have HP Indgioo 5000 ICC profile installed on your computer, you want to softproof your images WITH that ICC profile.

Hope that helps, Brian. A passionate Blurbarian

Posted by
brianbonitz
Sep 8, 2008 7:26pm PDT
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brianbonitz
 

 Thank you, Brian.

I am going to try these things. I realize how little I know .. calibrating is adjusting colors, but then monitor brightness is entirely a separate issue. Right?

I have done some repair work on the photos I had thrown into the last book, and see that a lot of my distress was caused by my own haste … !!!

Blurb sent me a $10 off coupon so I guess we’re all good. MAYBE I’ll reprint??

But first .. Calibrate!

Appreciatively, Kathy

Posted by
Mombo
Sep 11, 2008 10:15am PDT
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Mombo
 

Hello Kathy,

As for your statement quoted as saying, “calibrating is adjusting color…”...

Actually, the primary purpose of color calibration on monitor itself is producing an ICC profile to be set up and assigned to system architecture that works between computer AND monitor.

While in middle of color calibration process, do not run any applications such as Photoshop or anything. Just color calibration device (and its software that comes with).

Sometimes the color calibration device’s manufacturer offers a professional-version of photo for you look at and examine how the image looks in “newly” created calibrated monitor profile. This would help you a better idea how it looks IN that updated monitor ICC profile. You can also compare it with recent monitor ICC profile vs new one. You will notice a difference between those two. But be sure to select the latest, newest ICC monitor profile – not the old one. If you are not as technology savvy, perhaps that you don’t want to do lot of experiment. Unless if you are comfortable and understand how those two works, and how, and what to expect of such difference.

Monitor brightness is something that you have made a adjustment on monitor. Not by computer or calibration device itself. It is done manually. I highly do not recommend this. But some people do it all the time.

As for “adjusting” colors, there is a way for you to do it through imaging software application such as Adobe Photoshop CS3, or similar apps.

In addition, color management is a constantly heavy topic even for creative pros or prosumers and pro photographers.

Hope that helps, no?

Cheers, Brian
A passionate Blurbarian

Posted by
brianbonitz
Sep 11, 2008 3:31pm PDT
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brianbonitz
 

So here’s where I stand at the moment…

I set up my second monitor and adjusted it manually so that the images I used in my first test book looked identical on both page and screen.

I then went back to those same images, made adjustments to them (in some cases outlandish ones), made another test book identical in layout to the first one but using the adjusted images. I then uploaded the new test book.

Sat back and waited patiently. Yesterday the new book arrived.

The new images in the new book match the images as viewed on my second "blurb setup" monitor. 

Now I can forge ahead and attempt a more abitious book knowing that I only need to adjust my images while viewing them on the second monitor to get perfect results from Blurb while still leaving my main monitor calibrated for all other uses.

I hope all that made sense.

The  short story is, do a test book first, it will save you a lot of grief and let you know exactly where you stand before you tackle that important project.

Greg

Posted by
calisota
Oct 7, 2008 4:28pm PDT
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calisota