Before I get into the gist of this post, let me briefly talk about the lead image. For some of you who have been around for a wile, one of the go-to web sites was Outback Photo run primarily by Uwe Steinmueller. Uwe became quite passionate about quality printing, as many of us are, and he eventually set up a separate web site called Digital Outback Prints. Unfortunately for all of us, Uwe suffered a heart attack in August 2014 and he is no longer with us. There is a great tribute to Uwe behind Luminous Landscape pay wall (https://luminous-landscape.com/uwe-steinmueller/). (You should join if not already, only $12.00 a year.) As part of his dedication to making quality prints, he not only wrote a number of books on the subject, the last one being Fine Art Printing for Photographers: Exhibition Quality Prints with Inkjet Printers which can still be purchased on Amazon but also developed a number of images for testing ones printer, like the one above. As I was preparing for this post, I was surprised that one could still get access to this print and on a web site called appropriately, “The Wayback Machine” (who knew!) one can still find Jack Fleshers’ description of how to use this image (Link Here) as well as a link to the image. In Uwe’s book, mentioned above, Chapter 3 is devoted to color management and it includes how to use this image as well as some of the his other images which I will talk about in Part II. I highly recommend this book if you can find a copy at a good price. One problem with these older books is the discussion of Photoshop. While Photoshop has moved on, the concepts of color management and setting ones printer up are still essentially the same.
Well, that was involved and perhaps putting the cart before the horse, as some would say. Anyway, what let me into doing this post was that my new printer arrived this last Monday. I have not been doing any printing for a while as I was able to effectively kill my last printer, burning out the green channel and rendering it useless. So with the new printer comes a review of my color management techniques and making sure both my LCD monitor and printer are correctly calibrated. Going on a search for good contemporary B&W inkjet paper led me to two wonderful sites that have excellent tools for people calibrating their monitor. The first one is Aardenburg Imaging & Archives. On the Photography page is an excellent free download called their Monitor Checker in which one can see if they have their monitor set up correctly for any kind of image work. With this file, one can test their Gamma settings, Black clipping, White Clipping, Lateral Adaptation and an accurate Color Checker. The next reference is from Less Walkling who has a bunch of really great articles on color theory, color monitor profiling, soft proofing and a bunch of other stuff that you can find here. There are other varied sources of information both on the web and in books. The standard book on color has been Real World Color Management (2nd Edition) by Chris Murphy. The problem is that this book had its last update in 2004. So the most current book I recommend is Color Management & Quality Output: Working with Color from Camera to Display to Print. by Tom P. Ashe. This was published in 2014 so it is fairly current. The problem with this book is that it is kind of pricy, even for used ones.
Anyway, from these and other sources I revised my NEC PA271W monitor profiles as follows:
So let me explain.
- First of all, the color settings or white point of the web is generally considered to be at a color setting of 6,500 which produces a colder, more blueish image. However, for paper which virtually all have a warmer, yellowish tone to them.
- The Brightness or Luminance normally this has a recommendation of being between 80cd and 100cd, depending on the brightness of the room on is working in. Because my workspace is dark I went with a little on the low side. I may play with this setting a little but so far I like this setting. Most printers come with a default setting of 100cd, which depending on the room, may make the monitor on the bright side. The monitors luminance settings is important in assuring the resulting image of print is not either too bright or too dark.
- Gamma: Because the web setting is my base working setting for my monitor, I have set it at 1.8. The reason here is that I use Luminosity Masks from Tony Kuyper and it corresponds to my default Photoshop color settings of ProPhoto RGB and Gamma 1.8. When working with prints I move to the print settings as most of my image processing is completed by this point.
- Contrast Ratio. I am presently using this ratio based on Less Walkling’s recommendation.
- Color Gamut: I prefer to use the full gammas of the monitor rather than a more restricted setting as I will demonstrate below
Ok, now we are getting to the essence of what I want to talk about in this post. The graph above is taken from Chromix’s Color Think Pro software and it represents the various color spaces in use today, From Largest to smallest
- ProPhoto RGB
- Adobe RGB
- Mac’s DCI-P3
I will come back to the Eizo CG318-4k monitor
Now in the next couple of graphs, I set out to find what is the best inkjet paper to use for printing color as well as black and white prints. This took me on a project to also compare the color space of my monitor, what advances have manufactures made to monitors and what about service bureaus.
I have owned ColorByte’s ImagePrint software for a while. It is a stand alone Raster Image Processor (RIP) designed to convert image data easily interpreted by the printer. As such, Color Bytes develops color and black and white icc profiles for virtually every printable paper on the market and the profiles are of very high quality. To assist in the papers to select for my analysis, I first of all used this very good web site from Freestyle Photographic Supplies with their Inkjet Paper Comparisons, Ratings and Reviews. There are two notable exclusions from their list, Moab and Breathing Color. Another source was Mark Segal’s article at Luminous Landscape (behind their paywall) called “What’s the Gold Standard of Inkjet Papers? From these and other sources I chose to compare:
- Ilford Prestige Gold Fiber Glossy
- Hahnemuhle Fine Art Baryla
- Canon Photo Rag High Gloss
- Breathing Color, Vibrance having used this paper a lot.
I have listed the papers based on their ranking results on the graph below, the Ilford Prestige with the largest color space and Breathing Color the smallest of this group, However, all are very tightly together and will make great prints.
Now I find this graph to be very important as it compares the color space of:
- The Eizo CG318-4K monitor, which I think is the best of the new 4K monitors (and the only one I could find an icc profile of),
- The Adobe RGB color space, my
- NEC PA271W as developed from NEC’s SpectraView software and
- Ilford’s Gold Fiber Glossy
In reading Less Walkling’s articles he suggests that one should set their monitors calibrated color space to sRGB. I personally think that doing so greatly increases the problems with working with prints. If I were the use the color profile for the Ilford Gold Fiber Glossy for the paper and have a monitor set to sRGB, there would be hugh areas of color that would be printed that I did not see on the monitor. As it is, even with my wide color space of my NEC monitor, there are still area’s in the yellow/orange and blue portions of the paper color space that will be beyond the color space of my monitor.
I must say that the updated changes to the Visual Composer that I use to create these blogs has become a pain in the neck…..
Now the two graps, the first one compares the two satin papers of Canon, the best and Ilford Gold Fiber Silk. Very tight. The second one looks at the color space, from biggest to smallest as follows
- Ilford Gold Fiber Glossy
- a popular printing service’s satin profile
- a popular printing service’s metallic (aluminum board) profile
- a different, even more well known printing service’s standard profile (I was surprised at how small this was)
- and the CMYK profile of the printer I have been using for making calendars.
I think I am going to end this discussion here. In one of my next posts I will get into some thoughts on setting up the printing work flow as well as a work flow for dealing with outside printing services. When working with an outside printing service, one should treat them the same way as designing and proofing printing on ones own printer. For example, using Uwe’s image above, sending it to the printer, recording what changes you had to make to get it the way you want it, and then saving those settings and/or creating an action that to apply to future prints.