Soft Proofing

I’ve just upgraded my 3880 to K7 Neutral inks, and discovered the huge importance of soft proofing.

After converting my image to B&W (using NIK Silver Efex Pro 2) and returning to Photoshop CS5, there is a marked difference between the NIK derived image and the soft proof based on my preferred paper.

I definitely prefer the NIK look, and am struggling to find the right way to modify the soft proof. Unfortunately it seems there is no soft proof capability within the NIK. The soft proof starting point is muddy and it seems to be difficult to get back to the clarity of the NIK look and feel. Are there any obvious solutions you can share with me?

If your display is not calibrated to print, the contrast ratio between the lightest and darkest tones can be several thousand to one. Some displays are so bright, that the comparison to ink on paper will be a world apart if you are unable to calibrate it to print. Ink on paper has a contrast ratio of only a few hundred to one. It sounds to me that you are working on a very bright display. The Soft Proof should only change the image preview a small amount if the display is calibrated to print. If the Soft Proof produces a quantum leap - then you will benefit by calibrating the display to print standard so that working in NIK without Soft Proof will not be so restrictive to what can only be displayed rather than printed.

The idea of calibration is to set a gamma and brightness that imitates ink on paper. Many calibration products only calibrate to Web or for Photo Editing. Some calibrate to a factory standard and some calibrate to web, photo editing, and print. You should be working in print mode if printing.

How are you calibrated? What is your display model?



Hi Jon

Thanks for your reply. I have a NEC Multisync P221W with Spectraview 2. I currently calibrate with a Spyder 3 Pro, and have calibrated to D50 print mode, G=2.2, and brightness set to 80 cd/m2. However, the contrast point is set to default, but on having another look it seems I can set it to any ratio. Perhaps I’ll recalibrate to 300 and see what happens. One thing I can’t do in the soft proof customisation box in CS5 is tick both the ink and paper options when setting up the paper profile. I only get to choose one or the other, and so far have been going with the ink. The inks by the way are brilliant, and my printing has been revolutionised.

that’s a great display, but are you calibrating it with the Spyder software or just using the Spyder instrument to calibrate it via the SpectraView software?

I calibrate via the Spectraview software. Have just recalibrated with the ratio at 300, and it makes no difference…

can you tell me if your calibrated display in CS5 is matching the output of your prints?

Are you on Mac or PC, and are you following the workflow of the NEW Piezography Manual, or following the workflow of the QTR Manual?

I am on PC, and following the New Piezography Manual. Previously when using CS5 with the Epson OEM inks, everything matched up, although to be fair I didn’t soft proof because the match was good. With the new inks, these new characteristics emerged. As I soft proof with the selected profile, a kind of lightish veil falls over the image, and I can’t find the right way (tried all sorts of adjustment from curves, to levels to filters, to combinations …) of getting back to my original NIK derived image which does match in the standard working CYMK soft proof option.
The system is printing what I see when soft proofing. But when I soft proof, the variation from my image in the normal workspace (or working CMYK) is so different and I can’t find my way back to my original image.

Your system sounds like it is working correctly. The Soft Proof is correcting the higher contrast of a display image to that of an ink image. But, you prefer the contrast of the relationship between monitor black and monitor white to that of the ink on paper. If you were to print your image to another display, you would be happier than printing the image to paper. If you could get on paper what you see on your display without soft proofing - you would be even happier.

Perhaps, you need to work with an ink and paper combination that has higher dMax and brighter white.

For example, if you are now printing on fine art matte papers you could try printing on Epson Exhibition Fiber. The dMax for example, would shoot to about 2.7+ from 1.64 on JonCone Studio Type 2 (or about 1.48 on Moab, etc.) and the brightness of the paper would be substantially higher than that of a fine art matte paper. Does that make some sense?

What paper are you printing on now? That will give me an idea of where your dMax is.

And also, are you sure you are printing dMax? dMax is only attained at pixel values of 0,0,0 or L0. 1,1,1 or L1 is purposely lighter, etc… might you just need to adjust your files?

What do you think about these options?

Thanks for your reply.

I’m currently printing on 2 papers - the Hahnemuhle Photo Rag 308 and Canson Baryta Photographique. I would say I have a similar problem with the Canson, but it’s not as extreme as with the HM.

I spent a lot of time trying to recalibrate my monitor yesterday. Each calibration produced somewhat different results, making me think I had a problem with the Spyder 3 calibrator. But I understand variations are quite common - the contrast currently set on the monitor is 224:1, though I tried for 250 then 300, and with the 300 the closest I could get was the 224. Before that it was set at the screen default - but anyway this ratio is governed by the other settings (D50/2.2/etc).

I’m sure I’m not printing at the dMax - I’ve never adjusted my files in this way. I’ll take a look at this and let you know. I’ll do some more work with the Canson and as you suggest try a couple of others and see the results. I would add that I’ve always been most interested in the tonal variations between the 2 points rather than very highly contrasty images - and look for the details at both ends conditions permitting. I believe very strongly in Adams’ warnings about chalky whites and gluggy blacks, unless they fall a small part of the print or are part of your visualisation in the first place.

Again thanks for your input and I’ll let you know the results.