Printing: Matte Papers- Disappointing How to improve.
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msoomro
Registered: Nov 30, 2010
Total Posts: 1008
Country: United States

I have been recently experimenting with Matte papers specifically Epson Cold Press Natural and Moab Museum Rag. They are both reputed papers and I love their texture. I shortlisted these out of the many based on the sample prints I saw by at Moab and Epson booths and also at couple printing focused fairs.

So far my experimentation has been disappointing both at soft proofing level and at actual prints. (I am using a color profiled NECís MultiSync PA241W monitor and Epson paper profiles).

Soft proofing (BPC and Simulate Paper color turned on and using Relative Colorimetric)
Turns the image very dull, lack luster and lose the contrast.
(I then have to add curves and other methods to regain the contrast at SP stage)

Printing:
At default, prints turn out way darker and blacks print as deep blacks more like black color blobs. If I compensate for contrast at Soft proofing stage, it makes the matters worse

Others using matte papers, whatís your experience. Any recommendation what I shall tweak

Thanks
msoomro



howardg
Registered: Apr 23, 2003
Total Posts: 521
Country: United States

Soft proofing can be quite helpful but you will still need proof prints. Also the simulate paper white checkbox tends to be very aggressive at making the image look less contrasts than it prints. I use Epson Hot Press Bright White and get good results. I make a copy of the image, convert it to the soft proof profile without the simulate paper white box checked and tile the two images one next to the other. Then I apply curve and saturation layers to make them look nearly the same (or maybe a bit contrastier since I am not simulating paper white) and then make a proof print and see where I am.

Are you using the correct media (Epson Ultrasmooth Fine Art) in the media settings and letting Photoshop handle colors in the print drive settings?

Also, not sure how familiar you are with using matte papers, but the prints will simply never look as contrasty or saturated (unless you really go over the top, but they still look different) as a luster or semi-gloss paper.....it is just a different look.

The tonal separation for the Hot press papers se me better to me than Hahnemuhle Photo Rag so if you are getting dense and non detailed blacks I suspect there is a problem somewhere.

I actually just did a little review of the hot press papers on my blog.....nothing strongly objective, just my subjective experience here:


http://blog.howardgrill.com/2012/11/16/epson-hot-press-bright-white-vs-hahnemuhle-photo-rag/

Howard



Bernie
Registered: Aug 24, 2002
Total Posts: 4120
Country: United States

Printing is an art form of itself. Printing on matte papers is a black art....

My experience printing on Epson watercolor (this shot) was that softproofing was only an indicator of what would happen with the print. In the farm scene, I had to raise my blackpoint over 10% to get the detail out of an otherwise black blob. I probably did over a half dozen proofs just to get the barn wall on the right with its slats.

I had similar experience with other matte prints.

As Howard pointed out, there is no substitute for proof prints -- and lots of them. Don't think that raising a curve a notch at a time and doing a proof is excessive.



tived
Registered: Jan 31, 2003
Total Posts: 1007
Country: Australia

Printing is very much a touch and feel. And as others have pointed out there is a good deal of black magic involved.

You need to spend some time with and look at how it responds to what you have on screen or get a custom profile made. Without that its more luck then science

Best of luck

Henrik



Peter Figen
Registered: Apr 28, 2007
Total Posts: 3141
Country: United States

"Soft proofing (BPC and Simulate Paper color turned on and using Relative Colorimetric)
Turns the image very dull, lack luster and lose the contrast.
(I then have to add curves and other methods to regain the contrast at SP stage)

Printing:
At default, prints turn out way darker and blacks print as deep blacks more like black color blobs. If I compensate for contrast at Soft proofing stage, it makes the matters worse"

Two things right off the bat, well, maybe three. How has you monitor been calibrated and to what luminance level? In conjunction with the monitor luminance, what is the ambient light level in your editing room? How are you viewing and judging your prints? Under what type of lighting conditions? And lastly, what is the source for your paper profiles?

If your prints are all too dark, you have to start with monitor luminance and go from there. Too bright monitor, regardless of calibration and profile will have you make your files too dark to compensate, but that is also tied very closely to ambient light levels - the higher the ambient, the brighter you screen needs to be. The black point on the screen is as important as the white point and not enough attention is paid to that by most.

For the best results, you need to have custom profiles, although the Epson profiles for Epson media are generally pretty good to start with. The soft proofing for matte papers is generally mediocre at best and has to do with the accuracy of the measured white and black points in your profile, which are used to simulate on screen. It also helps to have your print at ninety degrees to the monitor so you have to look away and then back to the screen. The print should be illuminated with a calibrated light source like a Solux light or the equivalent.

I use my own custom profiles on an Epson 9900 and have printed on a ton of Velvet Fine Art, Hot Press Bright and virtually everything HahnemŁhle has to offer, and the soft proofs are really very good. You have to look to profile quality and calibration accuracy for the root of your printing issues.



Alan321
Registered: Nov 07, 2005
Total Posts: 9896
Country: Australia

I don't print a lot but I have had even more limited success with soft proofing for prints. The problem seems to be that for my preferred print viewing environment I need a monitor luminance that is far too drab for normal viewing and editing. So not only do I choose to soft proof with a monitor profile that is based on a restricted contrast range to suit my printer, I also decrease the screen brightness from its usual 120 or so Cd/m2 to just 90 Cd/m2.

A second problem is that the new lower contrast profile with lower screen brightness combination needs quite a bit of getting used to before I make final adjustments, but it probably works. I say probably because if I don't give myself enough adjustment time then I can really muck up the editing and that will spoil any chance of a print looking good. One issue that needs getting used to is the lack of real monitor-level blackness in the low-contrast print profile. What looks acceptable on a print seems at first to be quite unacceptable on a monitor.


My plan in future is to do my raw editing in Lightroom with normal monitor settings (profile and brightness) and then make a virtual copy for any further print-specific tweaking that will be done with the different screen profile and brightness settings. However, once again I find myself on the opposite side of the country from where my printer is and so I cannot test my new approach yet.


- Alan



Mr Joe
Registered: May 18, 2004
Total Posts: 4116
Country: United States

I've worked at a lab and tried a lot of different matte papers -- Canson Rag Photographique 310 is by far my favorite. If you like papers with a bit more texture, the Breathing Color Elegance Velvet is also quite nice.



Robert Snow
Registered: Jan 24, 2004
Total Posts: 558
Country: United States

I concur with HowardG's post. Turning off the white point but leaving on the black point seems to get me close to WYSIWYG.

Over time, I have experimented with various correction methods to approximate the correct monitor image with a simple adjustment layer. I have come cloest by using a Levels adjustment and starting with the black slider bumped up to somewhere between the 6 to 16 range, then adjusting the other two as needed. Also, the most simple way I like is to use the old contrast booster trick of doing an Unsharp Mask adjustment of perhaps 20-50-0, and adjusting the Amount up and down as needed (first number).

If you are getting dark prints, I would guess that your monitor is set too bright. Also, with an NEC monitor, I find that adjusting the "black" setting is needed to get a good profile.

Hang in there...you will find that the fine art matt papers can make beautiful prints.

bob snow



Peter Le
Registered: Apr 15, 2008
Total Posts: 1052
Country: United States

Bernie wrote:
Printing is an art form of itself. Printing on matte papers is a black art....

My experience printing on Epson watercolor (this shot) was that softproofing was only an indicator of what would happen with the print. In the farm scene, I had to raise my blackpoint over 10% to get the detail out of an otherwise black blob. I probably did over a half dozen proofs just to get the barn wall on the right with its slats.

I had similar experience with other matte prints.

As Howard pointed out, there is no substitute for proof prints -- and lots of them. Don't think that raising a curve a notch at a time and doing a proof is excessive.


Well put........you have to start with a good monitor profile and a good paper profile.....then process for the paper. Like everything.....keep practicing and you will figure it out. Most photographers printing problems seem to start with to bright of a moitor....



msoomro
Registered: Nov 30, 2010
Total Posts: 1008
Country: United States

Thank you everyone for the advices, sharing the perspective and above all giving moral support :-). I do agree it looks like a black art form. I will test with the recommended steps and hopefully reach to a acceptable print....

and In line of the discussion here is some additional info.

Re-caliberated Monitor today via Spectraview
Luminance Intensity Target = 85.0 cd/m2
White Point D65
Gamma 2.20
Back Point 0.16 cd/m2
Contrast Ratio 516:1

I am using the ColorByte profiles for the specific papers and also using same profiles for soft proofing.

As i re-calliberated the monitor, as next step I will just ignore the soft proofing (or at least Simulate Paper Color option OFF) and try few prints.

Will report back.....

cheers
msoomro



Alan321
Registered: Nov 07, 2005
Total Posts: 9896
Country: Australia

516:1 is probably a lot more contrast than a matte paper print can produce. You'll need a less contrasty profile to mimic the print environment. You'll also want a brighter and more contrasty profile for normal stuff.

luckily, spectraview makes it quick and easy to produce different profiles for different purposes. give them suitable names so that you know what hey are intended for and change over as and when required.

- Alan



msoomro
Registered: Nov 30, 2010
Total Posts: 1008
Country: United States

Alan321: What contrast level would you recommend. The choices are 500,450,400 and they down in steps of 50 upto 50:1



msoomro
Registered: Nov 30, 2010
Total Posts: 1008
Country: United States

As my quest continued, i stumbled upon a very good article. Sharing here

http://www.imagescience.com.au/kb/questions/142/How+To+Calibrate+An+NEC+Monitor+With+SpectraView+II




pjbishop
Registered: Oct 12, 2003
Total Posts: 2564
Country: United States

Monitor calibration is important. Good quality profiles are important. I'm sure some will disagree, but I question the utility of softproofing for inkjet printing on your home machine, for 'artistic', rather than commercial color-matching purposes (which is another ball game).

If you're sending out to a printing service, you may need to softproof depending on what kind of equipment they're using. At the least, be you should talk to the service about what profile to embed in your image.

Basically what I see onscreen in the Pro-Photo RGB working space in Photoshop (with a monitor calibrated to Gamma 2.2 and white point at 6500 on a Mac) is pretty much what I get on on paper using good quality profiles. I do run a trial print on a small size of the paper I'm using, and may tweak from that, but I'm tweaking the RGB screen image, not the pretend CMYK softproof view. The printing program and profiles will take care of the translation to the printing color space.

Whatever Epson printer you're using, above all you need quality profiles. Different papers will yield different tonal discrimination, differing D-Max and may also impart a slight color cast depending on the paper tone. I happen to use ImagePrint's profiles, but Hahnemuhle's proprietary profile for its Harman by Hahnemuhle Gloss Baryta paper is just fine. Some of Epson's own profiles are good, others are less so. I haven't yet tried the newer Epson 'Hot Press' or 'Cold Press' papers - intend to do so, I but one matte paper I like is the Epson Ultrasmooth Fine art (though it's overpriced).






matthewbmedia
Registered: Nov 30, 2008
Total Posts: 892
Country: United States

With Epson cold press I get great results with my 3880 printing adobe RGB files by just leaving color management off for the application doing the printing... AKA - no profile adjusment, just leave it set to use epson's color controls and set epson's driver to adobe rgb.

I know its blasphemy, but epson's drivers have improved quite a bit since the old days.



John Caldwell
Registered: Feb 21, 2003
Total Posts: 1904
Country: United States

Until this week, I'd not been using Epson Cold Press, although I have used matte papers for years for at least half of my printing. Epson Cold Press Natural was attractive to me because of its two-sided property and hand-feel for our holiday greeting card. On our Epson 4900, and the canned Epson profile, the results are really snappy with excellent color, contrast and black point on the Cold Press. There is no question, though, that the file manipulation to achieve a matte paper result that has what most people would call "pop", is certainly more extreme than the same file would need on a typical PK paper. In this regard, LR4 is really a superb tool. Very frequently the Clarity, vibrance and HSL tools are all that are needed to go from a processed file that is un-softproofed, to a file that will print well on MK media.

John Caldwell



msoomro
Registered: Nov 30, 2010
Total Posts: 1008
Country: United States

John / pjbishop / others. Thanks for your inputs. I tried with various monitor targets and my most recent calibration to the following levels and seem to be getting much better results, specially on my trials with Hot Press. However, as John pointed out, I needed more aggressive 'manipulation' that i normally do for soft proofing layers when working with semi or gloss.

White Point: 5500
Black Level 0.58 cd/m2
Intensity 88.3 cd/m2
Gama 2.2
Contrast Ratio 154:1

Additionally: I use Color Byte (Imageprint) for my printing and hence their profiles for soft proofing.

cheers
msoomro



Alan321
Registered: Nov 07, 2005
Total Posts: 9896
Country: Australia

Did you try a contrast ratio of 200:1 as suggested in that image science article that you posted ?

I found that 89 Cd/m2 was the amount of light reflected off blank paper by 2 pairs of 40W daylight (5000K) fluoro tubes in a room of my home where I normally view prints. It's a fairly bright room by domestic standards, but if those prints were viewed in a daylit room with lots of windows then they would seem to be lacking contrast (the blacks would be too light). In a typical lounge room at night those same prints would look too dark.

- Alan



ripkoken
Registered: Oct 05, 2004
Total Posts: 375
Country: United States

Try this You Tube tutorial by Mama Shan and see if it helps.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kdQj7gN_85M



msoomro
Registered: Nov 30, 2010
Total Posts: 1008
Country: United States

Hi Alan, I did try those settings but i feel my current monitor setting is giving me a better monitor view to print relationship.. I am continuing to experiment ... :-)


@ripkoken: thanks for the link


cheers
msoomro



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