Print on Demand

Note: This post is adapted from a paper by the same title originally published in The International Journal of the Book, vol.7, no. 1

Regardless of education or career path the question of how to find an audience eventually becomes a singular concern for many photographers. For those entering the commercial world this is a marketing issue: how to locate clients willing to pay for services rendered. The traditional solution for fine art photographers is exhibition and publication, where cost and access are predictable barriers.

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Introduction to Adobe Camera Raw

Originally a Photoshop file format plug-in, Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) has evolved into an essential tool for processing digital camera Raw image files. Raw processing is versatile and necessary for image quality control, workflow ease, and efficiency. It provides a powerful method for working with all aspects of digital capture. In fact, new versions of ACR can be used to reprocess legacy Raw files. A Raw file is the digital equivalent of a film latent image that hasn’t been developed. As the software improves, the processing can improve. There is no analogue to this amazing technology in traditional (film-based/wet darkroom) photography. Check the Adobe website for ACR updates regularly.

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Defining Archival Standards in Photography

There is a great deal of confusion among photographers and artists, and those who sell and collect art, over exactly what the term “archival” means. Labeling a photographic print archival implies that it has met or exceeded a standard.

What is the standard? Is there one standard for all photographic images: color, black/white, inkjet, and alternative process? Is there a different standard for other, non-photographic prints?

The short answer is no. The Image Permanence Institute, a department of RIT’s College of Imaging Arts & Sciences, offers this definition:

“Archival- a term often used to imply that a material will be stable over time. The term has neither a recognized standard definition nor a quantifiable method for verification.” (http://www.archivaladvisor.org/shtml/glossary.shtml)

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) agrees:

“(Archival media is) material that can be expected to retain information forever, so that such information can be retrieved without significant loss when properly stored. However, there is no such material and it is not a term to be used in American National Standard material or system specifications.” (ANSI/AIIM TR21998, “Glossary of Document Technologies,” Association for Information and Image Management International, Silver Spring, MD.)

The long answer is that photographers (photographers are arguably more guilty of misusing archival than any other group) use the term to mean that a print has been made to the highest standards of craftsmanship. Realistically it simply means that the photographer has taken great care to make an object that will last as long as possible.

Since the term is unlikely to disappear from our collective vocabulary any time soon (archival apparently has excellent archival qualities) we will define archival as how long a print survives before there is noticeable change. Using this definition a photographic print is archival if it lasts as long as it is predicted to last.

For example, if a manufacturer publishes data predicting a life span of thirty years for a print material, and the print lasts without noticeable change for thirty years, it is an archival print. The estimate for Fuji Crystal Archive Type One Paper (used for analog and digital wet printing) ranges from 40 to 218 years depending on how it is stored and viewed. (A Review of Accelerated Test Methods for Predicting the Image Life of Digitally-Printed Photographs, Part II; Wilhelm Imaging Research; IS&T’s NIP20: 2004 International Conference on Digital Printing Technologies).

A platinum print can theoretically last as long as the paper it is printed on stays intact (as could a pure carbon pigment digital print). The Fuji Crystal and platinum print have very different predictable life span; both are archival if they meet their prediction.

How do we define noticeable change?

Here again, there are no industry standards or accepted definitions. The informal standard for noticeable change is generally considered to be 8%. The idea is that most people adapt to and will not notice the slow fade of an image (photographic or otherwise) until the change is approximately 8%. After 8% we are more likely to notice that the image has changed. Using this standard we have a definition for the archival life span of a print as the time it takes to reach an 8% fade.

There are caveats. Professionals are more likely to notice a change before 8%, and this percent of acceptable fade is only valid if the print fades uniformly. Uniform fade is problematic. The dyes and inks, including pigment inks, used to produce prints (color or grayscale) typically do not fade uniformly.

Much of the published data on inkjet print longevity is based on a 30% fade; the assumption supporting this standard is that the image has degraded but is still functional. While technically correct, the 8% fade standard is artistically more realistic.

A common sense standard for all photographic prints is the Grandma Test. Using the Grandma Test a print should be unnoticeably changed for three generations. It should not fade more than 8% over that time.

A reasonable approach to archival printing (wet darkroom or digital darkroom) should focus on the process of making a print because that is something the printmaker can control. It becomes a measure of craftsmanship. The idea is to produce a print that will not prematurely change due to anything associated with the printing process, or handling and storage of the print.

Generally, change can occur due to a number of factors including:

  • What the print is composed of. Silver halide molecules embedded in gelatin and coated on paper? Platinum metal coated on paper? Azo dyes on plastic? Pigment ink on paper?
  • How the print was made. There are two basic factors (and many secondary factors) that can affect the life span of a silver print, for example: what kind of paper is used (fiber or resin coated), and the processing routine (what kind of chemicals are used, their quality, and the knowledge and skill of the printer). If an inkjet print: what type of paper, what is the composition of the coating, and what kind of ink is used.
  • How the finished print is handled, viewed, and stored. A print framed under non-UV glass and hung in bright illumination can be expected to fade more quickly than an identical print kept in dark storage. The life of a print, regardless how well made it is, will be affected beyond the printer’s control.

Information on the lifespan of photographic media—traditional and digital—is published by a number of organizations: the ANSI, ISO (International Standards Organization), RIT’s Image Permanence Institute, Wilhelm Imaging Research, and Aardenburg Imaging and Archives, among others.

Wet Darkroom

 L. Maddox introduced the first silver gelatin printing paper in 1871. Today there are two common types of silver gelatin printing papers: fiber and resin coated (RC). Fiber papers generally consist of an internally sized acid free paper base and several top coatings. RC papers are similar but have a water resistant polyethylene coating on both sides of the paper base.

Silver gelatin emulsions are made light sensitive using two silver salts: silver bromide and silver chloride. Either, or a mixture of the two, can be used. There are three general silver gelatin emulsion types:

  • Silver Chloride. Used for slow warm toned papers suitable for contact printing. Silver Chloride is too slow for enlargements. In the past silver chloride was used for print out papers (POP) that did not require chemical development after exposure.
  • Silver Bromide. Used for fast enlarging paper that typically produces a neutral to cold print color.
  • Chlorobromide. A mixture of silver chloride and silver bromide. The most common silver gelatin enlarging papers today. The image color will vary according to the processing chemistry used.

Both fiber and RC papers are available with emulsions that are contrast graded or variable contrast.

All other factors being equal, RC papers have a shorter predictable life span compared to fiber paper. RC plastic coatings eventually break down. More importantly the cut edges of RC paper are theoretically sealed to prevent water and chemistry from seeping into the enclosed paper fiber. These edges are suspect. When using RC paper follow the processing instructions exactly. Do not allow the paper to be wet, either in a chemical solution or water, longer than required. This will minimize the potential for seepage along the RC edges.

Fiber paper does not have a resin coating. Instead, the paper base is first coated with baryta (barium hydroxide), followed by a light sensitive emulsion. The paper stock is inherently stable but chemistry, especially fixer by-products, can penetrate the paper fiber and are difficult to remove. Fiber papers take more time and care to process properly. Fiber has been the first choice among serious printers; particularly because the air-dried surface is aesthetically pleasing, and because fiber paper offers more flexibility in processing.

The most common type of print failure with fiber or RC papers isn’t fading but staining or spotting caused by chemical contamination of the emulsion and/or the paper base. Contamination can happen during the making of the print or through improper handling, viewing, and storage. The photographer’s job is to make certain that nothing they do contributes to the premature failure of the print.

To avoid contamination the following general wet darkroom guidelines must be strictly followed:

  • Work Clean. Any thing that comes into contact with the printing paper before, during, and after processing must be clean. The enlarging easel, your hands (an often overlooked and extremely important consideration), the trays, sink, print tongs and washer, the drying screens and countertops are all potential problems. To avoid contamination Start clean, Work clean, and Finish clean.
  • Use Fresh Chemistry. Stale, exhausted or contaminated chemistry is almost certain to ruin prints. All chemistry oxidizes when it comes into contact with air. Chemistry diluted with water and in open trays oxidizes more quickly than when stored in a bottle. Chemicals change and accumulated by-products as they are used. Never use chemistry beyond the exhaustion point. Work methodically, especially in a group darkroom.
  • Use Fresh Paper. Age, heat, temperature, humidity, air pollution, and radiation affect silver gelatin paper. Use fresh paper for any print that is intended to have a long life span. Keep paper fresh by refrigerating it or, when necessary, freezing it. If you do this, be certain to allow the paper to slowly reach room temperature before opening the package (to avoid condensation).

Contamination is a great concern in wet darkroom processing. It can come from anywhere at anytime, particularly in a darkroom used by more than one person. You should develop a methodical approach to cleanliness and encourage the same in all those who work in the darkroom with you.

The silver particles that compose a silver gelatin print are susceptible to oxidation (like silver jewelry). Some toning processes may improve the life span of a silver gelatin print. Gold toners, for example, offer protection by coating the silver particles in the print emulsion. Sulfide and selenium toners convert the silver particles into more stable silver sulfide and silver selenide compounds.

For many traditionally trained photographers the assumed definition of archival has been “a chemically clean silver gelatin fiber print toned in selenium”. This definition dates to the publication of the Ansel Adams manuals in the 1960’s. Current research suggests that selenium toning may not be as effective as previously thought.

Toning silver gelatin prints is often an aesthetic decision; by changing the color of a grayscale print it’s emotional message can be altered in powerful ways. Prints can also be stained, dyed, hand colored, painted, coated, or otherwise altered. The effect on the print life span is unpredictable, at best.

Digital Darkroom

There are two material reasons why an inkjet print may fail the Grandma Test: the ink used and the type of media the ink is printed on.

Inkjet printers—at least those that most photographers purchase (as compared to industrial inkjet printing)—use soluble dye or pigment ink. The composition of the ink typically includes the colorant (dye or pigment), surfactants and additives, a humectant, and about 65% water.

Dye ink has a larger gamut (color space) than pigment ink. Using dye ink a photographer can expect a deeper black and colors that appear more vivid (especially when printed on glossy papers). Unfortunately, under similar viewing and storage conditions, dye ink fades much quicker than pigment ink. Although dye ink has improved considerably over the last decade, pigment ink is required to maximize life span of a print.

Most, but not all, inkjet printers currently marketed to photographers and artists use pigment ink or offer the consumer a choice. Some ink marketed as pigment actually has a small amount of dye added to the formula. This is particularly true for black ink. Pure black pigment ink tends to print as a deep brown. It is not uncommon for a small amount of black dye to be added to black pigment to guarantee a richer black.

Today pigment ink sets typically offer two black inks. Photo Black is intended for printing on resin coated and baryta-type papers; Matt Black is for fine art matt papers. Photo Black is a mixture of dye and pigment ink.

Photographers primarily interested in printing grayscale images can remove the color ink set from a printer and substitute a set of dedicated pigment grayscale inks (the set will have a dense black and progressively lighter shades of the same ink). No OEM (original equipment manufacturer) grayscale ink sets are offered by the Big Three: Epson, Hewlett Packard, and Canon. Going completely grayscale means leaving the OEM path, requiring the photographer to learn more and use third-party software to drive the printer. The results, however, can be beautiful, and the prints—using high quality papers—can have an expected life span equal to or exceeding the best toned silver gelatin prints.

There are a staggering number of papers and other media marketed for inkjet printing but relatively few manufacturers. Many papers are sold under different brand names. Today most inkjet media fall into four general categories:

Resin-coated paper. Designed to give a similar appearance to wet darkroom RC papers (Epson Premium Glossy and Premium Luster, for example).

Fine art matt paper. Coated for inkjet, these papers mimic the watercolor and printing papers that artists and printers have used for centuries. This is a crowded category with papers ranging from utilitarian (Epson Enhanced Matte) to high quality (Hahnemuhle Photo Rag).

Baryta type paper. A recent addition to the digital darkroom, baryta papers are similar to fine art matt but are manufactured with a surface that is intended to evoke an air-dried silver gelatin print. It should be noted that baryta is actually used in the manufacturing of silver gelatin printing papers. Not so for inkjet. The reference to baryta in inkjet printing is simply a subjective description of surface appearance.

Other. This includes papers not coated for inkjet printing (from low to high quality), plastics, canvas, fabric, and anything else that can be fed through an inkjet printer. Life span information for media in this category is very minimal and speculative.

The composition of the media has a direct impact on the life span of a print. A base paper, for example, must be acid-free. It should be pH-neutral or slightly alkaline (basic pH of 7 or slightly greater). Eliminating acidity is the most important consideration in making paper with a long life span (and is equally important for materials used for short and long term storage).

“Museum Grade” 100% cotton-rag paper remains the first choice among serious printers. However, there is “Conservation Grade” alpha cellulose paper made with high-grade acid and lignin free wood pulp that perform as well.

According to the test data published by the Wilhelm Research Institute some alpha cellulose paper out performs rag. Obviously, the predictable life span of an inkjet print is affected by many variables. Regardless, properly manufactured acid free paper (properly handled and stored) can have a life span exceeding 1,000 years.

During manufacturing a paper base is usually internally sized; material (for example gelatin, an animal by-product, has been used since at least the 8th century for internally sizing paper) is added to the paper to control water resistance (and also to influence the weight and surface texture). A paper may also have a surface sizing applied to improve strength, printability, and water resistance.

Optical brightening agents (OBA’s) are common additives to surface sizing for both wet darkroom and inkjet papers. Used in laundry detergents and some cosmetics, OBA’s are dyes added to improve a paper’s opacity and the appearance of “whiteness” (they work by absorbing ultraviolet light and reflecting light in the blue region of the electromagnetic spectrum through fluorescence).

You can gain some insight into how much OBA is included in the manufacturing of an inkjet paper (but not which kind of OBA is used) by looking up the paper’s ISO Brightness number. You can test for OBA using a spectrophotometer and software (BabelColor’s Color Translator & Analyzer and some professional profiling software will work). You also may locate some information on the web.

A few examples:

Epson Enhanced Matt (ISO Brightness: 104)

w2

Hahnemuhle Photo Rag 308 gm (ISO Brightness: 92.5)

w1

Hahnemuhle Photo Rag Bright White 310 gm (ISO Brightness: 99)

w3

(http://www.pusztaiphoto.com/articles/printing/spectrums/webchart.aspx)

What do the ISO Brightness numbers and charts mean? Epson Enhanced Matte reflects 104% of the energy falling on its surface (it actually gains illumination from the fluorescence of the OBA’s). Hahnemuhle Photo Rag 308 reflects 92.5%, and Photo Rag Bright White reflects 99%.

We can assume that Enhanced Matte is manufactured with more OBA than either Hahnemuhle papers. And we can assume that the Photo Rag Bright white has a brighter white because it is manufactured with more OBA than the standard Photo Rag.

This information also tells us that of these three papers the Hahnemuhle Photo Rag will change less over its life span (all other factors being equal), and the other two will experience more change. Why?

OBA’s have the unfortunate characteristic of “burn out” over time (there are many types of OBA’s, varying considerably in molecular composition; some burn out quicker than others). This simply means that wet darkroom and inkjet prints on OBA paper will exhibit an inevitable shift in paper white over time (the surface will appear a bit yellow—the natural color of the paper is revealed as the OBA burns out—and a bit dull).

There is no evidence that suggests the burn out of OBA, in either a silver gelatin or inkjet print, has harmful effects (that it would contribute to a shorter life span) on prints. We can predict that the paper white will fade over time, but we cannot predict that this change will manifest other changes in the print.

Protecting inkjet prints from exposure to UV will retard OBA burn out. If silver gelatin paper (fiber or RC) is over-washed during processing, or left to stand in water excessively, some of the OBA will leach out resulting in a print that is unexpected dull when dry.

If we want to eliminate the effect of OBA burn out, we must use inkjet papers that do not contain them.

Beyond the paper base and internal and/or surface sizing, inkjet papers are coated for inkjet printing. Inkjet coatings are often composed from silica pigment, PVOH (polyvinyl alcohol) binder, and a cationic additive. They are designed to maximize color gamut and the rendering of detail, primarily by controlling dot gain (the tendency for a droplet of ink to spread when applied to a surface) and porosity (how the ink is absorbed into or through the coating).

These coatings are applied over any sizing or RC coating, and are proprietary (although like paper manufacturing most inkjet coating is produced by third-paper chemical companies).

Compared to the relatively “hard” surface of most silver gelatin papers, ink prints on all media are more likely to scratch or scuff. Care must be taken in the handling of all inkjet media from the moment it leaves the packaging to storage and viewing.

Setting Up a Home Digital Darkroom

In this article we’ll examine three basic factors related to setting up a home digital darkroom that tend to generate many questions and some debate: Environment, Display, and Photoshop’s Color Settings.

Environment

Fig. 1- Viewing booths designed for the digital darkroom.
Fig. 1- Viewing booths designed for the digital darkroom.

The digital darkroom, like the traditional wet darkroom, should be a comfortable place that encourages relaxed and focused concentration. Environmental lighting, which is often overlooked, is very important. Room illumination should be consistent and relatively low intensity. You’ll find it easier to judge images, both on the display and when printed, if the brightness and color temperature of the environmental lighting does not fluctuate.

Fig. 2- Solux track lighting kit (left) and an Ott-Lite desk- top light.
Fig. 2- Solux track lighting kit (left) and an Ott-Lite desk- top light.

Maintain a relatively dim working area around the display and avoid reflections on the display’s surface from lit walls or windows. Windows in a digital darkroom are best avoided. If you have windows consider installing blackout shades (available at home improvement stores).

Be conscious of wall color, especially the surface immediately behind the display or any wall that may reflect onto the display (it will influence your judgment). White, off-white, or neutral gray is ideal. And, by the way, it is also a good idea to wear a black top when working on image files; shirt color can reflect into the display surface.

You’ll need a viewing light for evaluating prints. A professional viewing booth (GTI, JustNormlicht) is ideal. (Fig. 1) Less expensive alternatives are Ott-Lites and Solux lighting. Ott-Lite fluorescent are commonly available. You may need to shop for the halogen Solux on the Internet. Solux sells a track lighting kit that is excellent for illuminating a print viewing wall. (Fig. 2) We’ll have more to say about print viewing lights in the next section.

Display

Fig. 3- The Apple Cinema displays (left) are typical of the quality LCD’s used in the digital darkroom. The Eizo (right), while more expensive, includes a dedicated spec- trophotometer for calibration and profiling.
Fig. 3- The Apple Cinema displays (left) are typical of the quality LCD’s used in the digital darkroom. The Eizo (right), while more expensive, includes a dedicated spec- trophotometer for calibration and profiling.

You should consider the display, video card that runs the display, and a display calibration/profiling kit as a single unified system. It is virtually impossible to calibrate and profile a display by eye. Without accurate calibration and profiling it is not possible to achieve a predictable match between an image viewed on the display and a print.

Most digital photographers now use quality LCD displays. The Apple Cinema is a “best buy” and the more expensive Eizo displays are excellent. (Fig. 3) Do not purchase inexpensive LCD displays. They are difficult to calibrate and profile, and have other issues—a narrow angle of view, for example—that can severely limit their usefulness in a digital darkroom.

Be sure the computer’s video card is designed to adequately manage the flow of data to the display (video cards can be replaced when necessary). Large displays—or if you use more than one display (excellent for creating more desktop “real estate”)—require better video cards.

Fig. 5- ColorEyes
Fig. 5- ColorEyes

If you cannot trust the image on display nothing else really matters. We strongly recommend routinely using a calibration/profile kit. (Fig. 4) These kits use a color meter “puck” or “spider”, are reasonably priced and easy to use. The ColorEyes/Spyder3 Bundle (http://www.integrated-color.com) is a good value (the ColorEyes software is excellent). (Fig. 5) These kits feature a “wizard” software interface that conveniently walks you through the process of first calibrating, then profiling a display.

The wizard is used to adjust the luminance (often incorrectly called “brightness”) of the display and to select both a gamma and white point setting. Confusion about these choices is common, in part because they are arbitrary. Simply keep in mind that the aim of any combination of luminance, gamma, and white point is targeted to matching what you see on the display with what you see in the print.

Luminance. Luminance is specified in candela per meter squared (cd/m2). Don’t worry! This is just a unit of measure, like feet and inches. Lower cd/m2 translates into a less bright display; higher cd/m2 indicates a brighter display. LCD displays are typically very bright out of the box and need to be dimmed to present images on-screen that will better match prints. If your display and/or kit software offers a minimum luminance setting, use that for the first calibration/profile. If you are asked to enter a value, try 120 cd/m2. Almost all LCD can be calibrated/profiled at this setting. (If you can go lower, do so.)

You can imagine luminance as the volume or density of perceived light. With all other variables held constant (environmental lighting, for example) an increase in the density of light is visually experienced as “brighter” or “lighter”; a decrease is the opposite.

Gamma. Gamma (also called contrast by photographers) is built into almost all imaging systems (computer displays, televisions, motion pictures, film, and digital camera software, to name just a few). Gamma is designed to mimic the non-linearity of human vision and is expressed as a number: 1.8 and 2.2 describe the traditional native contrast of Apple and Windows operating systems, respectively. In practice your eye will quickly adapt to either setting but we recommend using gamma 2.2.

In the wet darkroom it is always desirable to first determine the overall density of a print before adjusting contrast. Essentially, and in very different ways using very different technologies, we are achieving the same goal when calibrating/profiling a display. We establish density by adjusting luminance, then tweak contrast by adjusting the gamma.

White point. White point describes color temperature measured in degrees Kelvin. D50 and D65 are common choices. Lower Kelvin numbers indicate increasingly warm light (yellow) while higher numbers describe increasingly cool light (blue). The ideal white point would match the display to the paper white of a print viewed under your print viewing light. If the calibration/profiling software allows for manual input, try 6000 degrees Kelvin. If not, D65 is a good starting point.

There is a very important relationship between the display and viewing light (and both are affected by the environment). You will be viewing, judging, and comparing images both on-screen and after they’re printed. We’ve found 6000 degrees Kelvin to be a good match for Solux lighting, and D65 a better match for Ott-Lites. Or, if you invest in a viewing booth choose the white point that matches it’s color temperature. You can always author multiple display profiles. Make a few prints and place them under your print viewing light. Compare the illuminated prints to the image on-screen. Open the Display panel in the system software and alternate between display profiles. Visually determine the best match and make that your standard display profile. While this is an excellent process–one based on using and training your eye to look closely and critically for the nuances that greatly impact print quality–it is predicated on making test prints using accurate ICC profiles.

You’ll discover that some combinations of luminance, gamma, and white point work better than others. It is most important to be consistent with these settings. Once you’ve found a combination that works only make changes when you have a good reason to do so.

Fig. 6- The Eye-One (left) and the Pulse (now discontinued) kits use a spectrophotometer for calibrating and profiling displays. Spectrophotometers are more accurate than the color meters used in less expensive kits, and can be used to author print profil
Fig. 6- The Eye-One (left) and the Pulse (now discontinued) kits use a spectrophotometer for calibrating and profiling displays. Spectrophotometers are more accurate than the color meters used in less expensive kits, and can be used to author print profiles.

Incidentally, Gretag-Macbeth’s i1 (Eye- One) kit uses a spectrophotometer instead of a color meter. Spectrometers read more data and are therefore more accurate. (Fig. 6) They can also be used to author very good ICC printing profiles. While more expensive these kits are an excellent value in the digital darkroom. Authoring your own ICC print profiles makes it possible to work successfully off the OEM (original equipment manufacturer) path; you can use third party papers and inks, for example.

Remember: the point of building accurate display profiles is to improve the match between an image on-screen and the print from that image file. This is easily negated by poor environmental control and poor lighting, especially for viewing prints.

Color Settings

With a properly calibrated/profiled display the first order of business in Photoshop is to configure Color Settings (Edit>Color Settings). (Fig. 7) Photoshop is a powerful application that can be used for many different tasks; we need to configure it properly for the digital darkroom. There are two variations, depending on the quality of your print profiles.

Generic Print Profiles:

Fig. 7- Generic Print Profile Color Settings.
Fig. 7- Generic Print Profile Color Settings.

Generics include the profiles added to your computer system during the print driver installation and profiles downloaded from the Internet (regardless of source, free or otherwise). They may or may not be ICC:

Working Spaces sub-panel. Use Adobe RGB (1998) for the RGB working space and Gray Gamma 2.2 for Grayscale. Don’t worry about the CMYK or Spot selections; we’ll not use those in the digital darkroom. Color management Policies sub-panel. The conservative choice in this sub-panel is to select Preserve Embedded Profiles in each menu and keep all the radio buttons clicked on. If you open an image file tagged with a profile not matching the Color Settings selection, Photoshop will automatically launch the Embedded Profile Mismatch panel, giving you a choice for which profile to work with. (Fig. 8)

Fig. 8- Photoshop’s Embedded Profile Mismatch panel.
Fig. 8- Photoshop’s Embedded Profile Mismatch panel.

Conversion Options sub-panel. Keep the Engine on the default setting, Adobe (ACE). Select Perceptual from the Intent menu. Keep both radio buttons clicked on. Advanced Controls. Do not click on Desaturate Monitor Colors By. It will lead you down a path of false color. Click on Blend RGB Colors Using Gamma and keep the default setting, 1.00.

Accurate Print Profiles:

Fig. 9- Accurate Print Profile Color Settings
Fig. 9- Accurate Print Profile Color Settings

Accurate print profiles are always ICC and specific to a given printer, ink, and paper combination. They can be self-authored using something like the i1 kit hardware and software (or better). Or, you might pay someone else to authoring them for you. This configuration of Photoshop’s Color Settings is identical to the above with two exceptions: use ProPhoto for the RGB working space and select Relative Colormetric from the Intent menu.

As with the luminance, gamma, and white point settings selected when calibrating/profiling a display, there are other RGB and Grayscale Working Space profiles that can be used in the digital darkroom. You can also work with different Rendering Intents. Intents instruct Photoshop how to map or render out of gamut colors (an image file may contain color information that cannot be duplicated by the printer/ink/paper combination being used).

As your expertise deepens experimenting with other Working Space profiles and Intents makes sense. If you find one that works better, by all means use it. Just be consistent. You’ll create a “performance baseline” that will provide a foundation for experimentation and refinement.

When the Color Settings are configured click the Save button in the upper right corner and all the selections will be grouped together and saved. It’s a good idea to check the Color Settings in Photoshop before editing image files (especially if other people have access to the machine or you’ve relaunched the application).