Beginner Advice needed on reproducing accurate colours

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264
Edit My Images
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#1
I enjoy taking the odd landscape shot but never got round to printing them before. I'm now thinking of printing some but i know my colour workflow if way off so i was looking some advice. My first thing is to purchase a Spyder5 as to date I have only calibrated my monitor using the inbuilt software. After this i'm all at sea as to what needs done. Any help would be grately appreciated so that i can set up some sort of consistent process in Lightroom to print to external (online) printers.

Thanks in Advance
 
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Jeremy Moore
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#2
Unless you are really keen to do your own printing it is probably much more economical to use a commercial printer like DSCL.

Once you have calibrated your monitor you can download the printer's colour profile and export your images from Lightroom using that rather than the inbuilt profiles.
 
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Phil
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#3
As @jerry12953 says, printing is a whole other skill set from photography, and unless you have a genuine desire to spend a lot of time, money and effort learning it, it’s not really necessary.
 
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22,918
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Richard
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#4
I would echo Phil and Jerry's comments though I think the OP is already looking at "external (online) printers."

In which case, an external service will sort out the colour calibration at their end and if you supply them with image data calibrated to the same standard at your end then all should be well. At it's most basic level (and TBH that's all you need to worry about) what you need is a calibrated screen, meaning that if you like what you're seeing at home then the lab should be looking at exactly the same thing and deliver prints accordingly.

To ensure that colours are as accurate* as they can be, the best way is to include a colour test card into the first frame of a shoot (illuminated by the same light as the main subject). That will include a neutral grey patch which you use as a reference for the colour temperature 'dropper' in Lightroom - just click on that and Lightroom will neutralise it, and then all other colours will naturally fall correctly in line.

Good quality colour test cards are quite expensive (£50+) such as X-Rite or Datacolor https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00LPS4...=9046212&hvtargid=pla-403917170347&th=1&psc=1 but will last for many years if you look after them. I also use the default grey background in Lightroom as a handy visual reference - it's exactly 50% RGB.

* technically accurate colour is one thing, but 'best' colour is often rather more subjective. It's common practise to deliberately warm up a portrait for example, and with a sunset a strong red/orange cast is what makes the shot. So, if it looks right to you (on a calibrated monitor) then it is right, and the prints should match that vision.
 
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Bazza
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#5
I do tend to print my own photos but there is a lot to consider. Take just the paper you want to print on, there is matt -gloss- semi gloss etc etc let alone makes. That can produce different effects. Then there is the printer itself another minefield to wade through . I prefer to use Epson with Ilford gallerie smooth gloss which is a quick drying paper.
Another point to take into consideration is a monitor shows back lit photos which is a lot different from looking at a hard print. There is also a question of which print ink you find the best for your printer.

I used to use Color munki to match hard copy to monitor but soon got rid of it as that depended on ambient light at the time. A right pain in the backside and having to scan up to 3 times on a colour patch you print out ( just don't even think of it) before you actual print.

having said all that apart from the expense of printer ink and paper there is great satisfaction in seeing the finished hard copy you have produced yourself. To me printing ones own is the end result of photography.
Yes sending away for prints are cheaper and easier definately BUT only you really know the colours that you capture at the time, so can get I believe a more accurate representation.

If a lot wanted printing then certainly send them away, but for individual prints then have a go


One of my own prints and my original photo


this picture of the picture was taken in Jpeg ( reproduction here unedited) and looks even better when seen physically. Chair back used to hold picture upright hence the curve at the top
It takes time but the results are well worth it

Printer Epson XP 950 (now latest version updated to 960) = around £170/200
Ilford gallerie smooth gloss 5x7 per 100 pack = £20/30 Above is larger size,so more expensive
Printer ink Epson multipack 24XL Approx = £80

Just to give some idea. So you really have to be selective which photos you want to print
 
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Richard
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#6
Bazza makes a good point about how a paper print can sometimes look second best when compared to the monitor image - because of the far more restricted dynamic range.

If a white piece of paper only reflects 96% of the light shining on it, and the darkest black area of a print still reflect say 3%, then the dynamic range is five stops. Those numbers can vary, but they're still way below a decent monitor that might be ten stops in a darkened room (1000:1) and some cameras reach 12-14 stops.

If getting an exact replica in a print then sounds like a hopeless task, well in some ways it is, but on the other hand by far the most important tones in terms of our visual perception fall within that five stops range.

Lightroom has some print output options to help with this but what it boils down to is with prints you'll lose detail in dark shadows that'll just block up to solid black if you don't lift them first, but there's no denying that producing top quality prints can be both an art and a science in itself.
 
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4,520
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Simon
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#7
If a white piece of paper only reflects 96% of the light shining on it, and the darkest black area of a print still reflect say 3%, then the dynamic range is five stops. Those numbers can vary, but they're still way below a decent monitor that might be ten stops in a darkened room (1000:1) and some cameras reach 12-14 stops.
That's a remarkably clear explanation.
 
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