Book Design and Imaging

monitor calibration

I am new to both Blurb books & to monitor calibration but just had a bad experience with my photos being printed too dark in a magazine. And now I read that many folks have had similar experiences with the printing of photos in their Blurb book.

So I’ve ordered Spyder3Pro monitor calibration software and expect it to arrive tomorrow. But what then? Can anyone please give me tips on how to calibrate my monitor so it is in sync with the HP Digital Indigo printer Blurb uses to print their books? BTW I use Adobe Photoshop CS2 to edit my digital photos and this project is all in sRGB color. My computer is the MacBook Pro.

Yes, I want the color to match what I see on my computer screen but am also concerned about the possibility of ending up with images that are too dark. I tend towards preferring my images to have depth and contrast but I want them to be readable as well.

As for the book format, I have chosen the 10×8 landscape hardcover with flaps. I plan to have my books printed on premium paper. I will order one book first to be sure it looks OK before ordering the others. My cover photo bleeds over the edges of the book and I have allowed 1/4” tolerance for the trim.

All suggestions and links are most welcome. Thank you.

Patricia

Replytopic_b_normal
Posted by
playdorsey
Apr 26, 2009 1:58pm PDT
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playdorsey
 

Calibration does not put your monitor in sync with a printer.   It puts your monitor in sync with a standard for display. 

The intensities of a color for a pixel is represented by a number.  The monitor displays that number as it understands it, and the same number is printed as the HP Indigo understands it. 

If the brightness is up too high on your monitor, and you look at a picture, it looks over exposed.  So you open the photo with photoshop or Lightroom and reduce the exposure.  It reduces the magnitude of the numbers representing the pixels .  Blurb has no way of knowing what your monitor setting are.  The numbers in your jpg files indicate that you want dark pictures, so you get dark pictures.

When you get spyder, it will come with a gizmo you hang on the monitor as well as some software and instructions.  When you run it, it will ask you to hang the gizmo on the monitor and it will run the monitor through its primary colors and grays.  Based upon how much light reaches the sensor, spyder knows if your monitor is too bright or dark or skewed to one color or another.  It will create a profile for your computer/monitor that will load each time you log in (in windows, I don’t know about Mac’s), and adjust the monitor accordingly.

If you are really anal about the color, you can download and use the color profiles for the HP printer.  I have the capability to use them, but I never have.  I calibrate only, and have been very satisfied with the results.

Posted by
Charybdis
Apr 26, 2009 3:41pm PDT
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Charybdis
 

I agree with Charybdis’ observation and all.

As for calibration on MacBook Pro laptop computer, be aware of the automatic adjustment on bright or dark on its monitor… because there is a tiny special sensor inside one of those two speakers inside laptop.

If you want the accurate calibration done on your laptop computer, you need to disable the automatic monitor sensor. I will need to examine this on how to do this on my MacBook Pro 17”. I have other computer called Mac Pro. I calibrate only on Mac Pro. I usually edit and make all necessary modifications mainly on Mac Pro rather than on MacBook Pro. I also use latest version of system architecture, OSX version 10.5.6. And own a full license of Adobe Design Premium CS4, and standalone Adobe Lightroom 2 (2.3), as well as Aperture 2 (version 2.1.3).

Hope the info helps, no?

Cheers, Brian {a passionately Blurbarian}

Posted by
brianbonitz
Apr 26, 2009 4:51pm PDT
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brianbonitz
 

Both of these responses are helpful to me. I’m the kind of digital photographer/computer nerd who works on a “need to know’ baisis. If I don’t need a certain bit of technical info, it goes right over my head. Obviously that was the case with calibration issues. Now that I need it, I’m all ears.

And Brian, since my MacBook Pro is my ONLY computer, I guess I’ll have to figure out how to disable the automatic monitor sensor. If you find any more info about how to do this, please post it here.

Thanks Charybdis and Brian. What a helpful community you’ve got here on Blurb!

Patricia

Posted by
playdorsey
Apr 26, 2009 7:26pm PDT
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playdorsey
 

Patricia,

If you decide to use and calibrate with Sypder3 Pro, you probably would want to disable this feature in your System Preferences first. If you went ahead to calibrate before disabling, you are going to mess up the monitor preference.

How to disable the auto adjusted brightness as ambient light change, all you have to do is un-check on bottom of Display/Color preference inside System Preferences.

System Preferences > Display (Color LCD) on your MacBook Pro > if you look all the way down to bottom of that dialogue box… You want to *un-check* automatically adjust brightness as ambient light changes

When you are done with your work using calibrated monitor, you can go back into System Preferences > Display Preferences > turn it on on that same button that you have unchecked earlier. It might be a little inconvenience for you to check and then uncheck back forth.

That is the precise reason why I prefer to calibrate on Mac Pro rather than on MacBook Pro for that purpose.

Hope that helps, no?
Cheers, Brian {a passionately Blurbarian}

Posted by
brianbonitz
Apr 26, 2009 9:13pm PDT
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brianbonitz
 

Totally helpful, Brian. Exactly what I needed to know. BIG thanks!

Patricia

Posted by
playdorsey
Apr 28, 2009 6:50pm PDT
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playdorsey
 

Hi Patricia,

Glad that I could be of help.

Cheers, Brian {a passionately Blurbarian}

Posted by
brianbonitz
Apr 28, 2009 9:43pm PDT
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brianbonitz
 

Brian, I just calibrated my MacBook Pro monitor and see a huge difference. Even though I’d calibrated yesterday using the system’s calibration tool, my monitor was still giving a blue cast to everything. But, thanks to Spyder3 Pro, not anymore.

Now my (hopefully)final question is this: If you have a well-calibrated monitor do you still lighten your Blurb photos up a bit to counter the darkening that seems to come with the printing here? Or should I trust that what I see on my monitor is pretty much what I will get in print?

Thanks for all your help. Couldn’t have done it without you.

Patricia

Posted by
playdorsey
Apr 30, 2009 10:32am PDT
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playdorsey
 

Patricia,

I do not calibrate on MacBook Pro, but I calibrate thoroughly on Mac Pro. Once calibrated on Mac Pro along with monitor, it just depends on photos I am working with. To adjust or edit on certain aspect around photos, I use with Adobe Photoshop CS4.

So do you use Photoshop, no? If you have Photoshop, do you have correct ICC profile to softproof on your photos. It is matter of roundtrip workflow backforth between softproof and edit as needed to… Once you satisfy the work, then you can import photos into Booksmart application.

As for your question about lighten up some of darkening photos, I can get that taken care of with Adobe Photoshop. Like I said before, it is a long process, and part of workflow process to cross process the photos.

I don’t know about the nature of your book project. Is your book project just for hobby purpose? Or some kind of important book project? If book project is very important, then you might want to run a test proof book with only say… 20 to 30 pages to see if the photos looks ok. Again, I do not know how many pages do you plan to work on/with your book project. If your book project requires many, many pages, then test proof book will do a trick.

Now that you realize that I prefer to calibrate on Mac Pro rather than on Mac Book Pro laptop computer for this reason.

Also, you might realize that once you calibrate monitor, it doesn’t mean that it will solve the whole process. It is important that you understand and know that calibration process is designed to make your monitor looks “near perfect” or nearly perfect if you prefer… but the calibration is not for printer. It is a different issue. Again, color management is very complicated issue. For that reason, that is why I recommend you run a test proof book…

I hope that helps… if not, let us (Blurbarians) know and we can go from there, ok? I know there is lot of steps involved. Color management is very complicated and difficult to understand at beginning. Getting the right equipment, tool and resource, that will do some trick.

Cordially, Brian {a passionately Blurbarian}

Posted by
brianbonitz
Apr 30, 2009 4:17pm PDT
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brianbonitz
 

Thanks, Brian. I just ordered one copy of my book to see how it looks. I’ll let you know…

Patricia

Posted by
playdorsey
Apr 30, 2009 7:42pm PDT
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playdorsey
 

An update:

I received my test copy and was basically pleased but a good number of my photos were somewhat darker than I’d hoped. Yes, my monitor was freshly calibrated and the images had looked fine on my monitor, but I wasn’t surpised as so many folks had mentioned this problem. I just lightened things up and ordered another test copy which should arrive this week.

As I’m ordering an 8×10 hardcover with dust jacket and am wanting them rather quickly because of a dealine, my test copies aren’t exactly cheap. But I’ve worked hard on this photo project for the past 11 months and will be presenting my Blurb book to publishers so don’t mind the extra cost. Getting it right is more important to me right now than saving $$.

Other than the dark images, I’m very pleased with the look and feel of the book. BTW I chose premium paper and am delighted I did.

Thanks again for all the help, Brian. Your counsel was invaluable.

Patricia

Posted by
playdorsey
May 10, 2009 9:26pm PDT
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playdorsey
 

Hi Patricia,

Thanks for the latest update. And you are very welcome and I am glad that I can be of some assistance.

Have a great day, Patricia.

Cordially, Brian {a passionately Blurbarian}

Posted by
brianbonitz
May 11, 2009 1:58pm PDT
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brianbonitz
 

Patricia,

I’ve not had a problem with dark photos in books, but I’ve been trying to figure out the problem.  Two questions, in what color space are the dark photos? (i.e. sRGB or Adobe RGB etc.)  Are the dark photos resized by blurb, or do you match the container size or do full bleed?

Thanks,

Mike

Posted by
Charybdis
May 11, 2009 4:42pm PDT
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Charybdis
 

Mike

I appreciate your questions and concern. My photos are RGB color mode in Adobe photoshop and I used the Blurb resize to get the proper dimensions on each page. My originals are 36×54 inches & I saved them at 300 dpi. I only used full bleed for the cover, and to be honest, the cover is, to my eye, the only weak link remaining in my book. It is quite grainy even though the same photo within the book itself came up looking fine. I’m inclined to think the problem is the glossy finish of the cover. What do you think?

Today I received test copy#2 of my book and all the photos now look as I’d wished. All that is except the cover. The image I used was taken in low light and is not the sharpest but, as I said, it looks fine inside the book. I can live with the cover but just wonder if there’s some way I could possibly tweak it to make it look better. Any suggestions?

You folks are SO helpful to Blurb newbies like me. I so appreciate it.

Patricia

Posted by
playdorsey
May 12, 2009 8:03pm PDT
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playdorsey
 

Without seeing the cover, it is hard to comment.   If you want me to look at it, send it to ms.ps2blurb "at" gmail.com

The type of RGB mode is important.  sRGB is different than Adobe RGB.  Both use 8 bits (256 levels) to represent the intensity of each color (red, green & blue).  The range displayed by each is different.  It is my understanding that the brightest value for Adobe RGB is brighter than the brightest value for sRGB.  This means that the discrete steps between one color and the next are subtler for sRGB, but the range is less.  How does this translate into dark pictures?

Imagine the two lines below representing the range of a color in the two systems.  The longer one is Adobe RGB, the shorter sRGB.  Each letter (m or n) represents an increase of one count in the number that represents that color.   It is greatly exaggerated in order to make a point.

|mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm|  Adobe RGB

|nnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn|                        sRGB

Both lines have 16 letters.  As you move left to right, both systems will display the same color (or close to) based upon how far from the left the letter is, not how many letters you crossed.  So the 10th "m" will display on the screen the same as the 15th "n" if you are displaying them in their native format.  If you are in Adobe RGB, the value of 10 is being saved for this particular color and being printed as such in sRGB when you really wanted 15.  You can test this in photoshop.   I’m not at my regular computer, so my instructions may not be quite perfect.  In one of the menus, there is a color gamut selection.  Look to see what it is set on.  If on Adobe RGB, change to sRGB.  Make sure the check box that asks if you want to adjust the numbers is unchecked.  Watch the effect it has on your picture.  It should look a bit darker and maybe have a slight hue to it.  Is this what printed?  By doing this, you didn’t change the values in the file at all, you only changed the way it is displayed, which should also match the way it prints.

I don’t know if the computer is sensing the color space and adapting before display and the printer isn’t.  Or, I could be totally off on this, but it may explain why this is happening.

Posted by
Charybdis
May 13, 2009 3:40pm PDT
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Charybdis
 

Makes perfect sense, Mike. Thanks for explaining it in language understandable to a non-geek like me. As for this book, I’m already satisfied with how I adjusted the lightness of my images, but in the future I’ll know what to do differently.

And regarding my cover photo problems, I just changed templates so the image is smaller than a full bleed. I think this particular photo just wasn’t crisp enough to handle full bleed. I’ve just ordered test copy #3 which I’m sure wil turn out fine.

Thanks again for all your help.

Patricia

Posted by
playdorsey
May 13, 2009 9:20pm PDT
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playdorsey