Why are my printed photos dark and professional photos from my computer are not

Started May 12, 2013 | Discussions
Debbie
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Why are my printed photos dark and professional photos from my computer are not
May 12, 2013

Please help me figure out what I am missing.

I have not been happy with my printed photos for a while.  I've tried several different labs (MPIX, Bay Photo, Shutterfly, Meridian) with all the same results.  There just seems to be a weird dark cast to all of them.  I shoot in sRGB with both my Nikon D800 and D300.  When I correct and then save there is a box to embed a color profile.  I never check this box (not even when editing the professional photos).

My daughter just had professional engagement photos taken and we bought the rights to them.  They were straight out of the professional's camera (she did not edit them at all) and so I edited them in PSE.  I had some of my own photos from my other daughter's prom that I wanted printed.  I corrected both the professional's photos and my photos using the same programs and nearly same steps.  When looking at both sets of photos on my MAC the colors look good.  My monitor has been calibrated.  I sent them off to MPIX and they came today.  The professionals look beautiful and mine have that dark hew.

I would think if something was getting attached to the photos during editing then it would have attached to both sets.  I can't understand how all photos look good on the monitor but one of the sets look different when printed.  To me it has to be something to do with something being attached to file in camera.  Does that make sense.

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Craig
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Re: Why are my printed photos dark and professional photos from my computer are not
In reply to Debbie, May 12, 2013

I had a problem with darker prints and off colors too.

I calibrated my monitor too using Eye 1display 2 .. Come to find out the puck was bad and their test software said it was fine.

I bought color munki and it works great. I get consistent color matching using my printer and from the the lab now.

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Victor Engel
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Re: Why are my printed photos dark and professional photos from my computer are not
In reply to Debbie, May 12, 2013

It sounds like you are editing in Adobe RGB and then sending files with no profile. When you send with no profile, the printer normally assumes it is sRGB. Since AdobeRGB is wider, the resulting colors will look under saturated and off.

To fix the problem, always include the profile when sending off  the files and save using sRGB unless you know the printer prefers something else.

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RhysM
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Re: Why are my printed photos dark and professional photos from my computer are not
In reply to Debbie, May 12, 2013

At a guess, looking at some of the photos in your gallery you have a tendency to overexpose. Could it be that the Pro is nailing the exposure so the printers have more latitude to manipulate the image brightness ready for print without compromising colour tones, but have less latitude with your photos because you've blown the highlights, for example.

A properly exposed photo will always respond better to any adjustments than a poorly exposed photo.

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RedFox88
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calibrated screen
In reply to Debbie, May 12, 2013

This sounds like your screen is not calibrated.  If you are doing "edits" to photos and they turn out dark, that likely means your screen is set to be overly bright and over contrasty which makes your 'edits' to them actually make the images darker because they are bring displayed brighter than they actually are on your screen.  Get that?

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PenguinPhotoCo
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Re: Why are my printed photos dark and professional photos from my computer are not
In reply to RhysM, May 12, 2013

maybe chicken or egg...if they print dark the tendency would be to overexpose, right?

Victor may have hit it - you'll have to check your camera and the files (when open in PS) to see what color space you're using. 99% of labs and the web are sRGB and everytime you convert from one space to another quality and accuracy takes a hit and color shifts are the usual result (aka dark cast in your case).

Set your camera on sRGB and make some test shots. Look at them in PS and check color space, bit depth (again, labs and web want 8 bit, not 16 or higher). Shoot a gray card if need be and have that printed.

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Victor Engel
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Re: calibrated screen
In reply to RedFox88, May 12, 2013

RedFox88 wrote:

This sounds like your screen is not calibrated.  If you are doing "edits" to photos and they turn out dark, that likely means your screen is set to be overly bright and over contrasty which makes your 'edits' to them actually make the images darker because they are bring displayed brighter than they actually are on your screen.  Get that?

She did mention the screen was calibrated. She also mentioned that her did edits not only to her own photos but also to the professional photos. If what you're saying is right, then I'd expect the professional photos to print out poorly, too, after editing.

If my idea is right, then opening up a photo that printed poorly and selecting assign to profile when switching to sRGB, the result should look just like the too-dark print.

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RhysM
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Re: Why are my printed photos dark and professional photos from my computer are not
In reply to PenguinPhotoCo, May 12, 2013

PenguinPhotoCo wrote:

maybe chicken or egg...if they print dark the tendency would be to overexpose, right?

Victor may have hit it - you'll have to check your camera and the files (when open in PS) to see what color space you're using. 99% of labs and the web are sRGB and everytime you convert from one space to another quality and accuracy takes a hit and color shifts are the usual result (aka dark cast in your case).

Set your camera on sRGB and make some test shots. Look at them in PS and check color space, bit depth (again, labs and web want 8 bit, not 16 or higher). Shoot a gray card if need be and have that printed.

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I was talking more generally in the sense that the OP might not have the same level of finesse when it comes to exposure as the pro. Rather than citing it as an acute solution/answer to the problem..

However, if the highlights aren't properly exposed and are washed out, then if they try to "lift" the overall image it will wash the highlights out even further, so depending on the how the print lab works it might be better to expose for the highlights even slightly underexpose to give them more room to influence the mid-tones.

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Debbie
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I too have calibrated my monitor with Colormunki
In reply to Craig, May 13, 2013

And upon looking at both sets of prints on my monitor they both look equally good...no tink on either set.

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Debbie
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This sounds like you're on the right track
In reply to Victor Engel, May 13, 2013

Now I need to figure out how to change things on my MAC.  I store/organize my files in iPhoto and then edit them in PSE10.  Somewhere in there must be where it is attaching the Adobe.  I need to figure it out

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Debbie
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Okay looked at iPhoto and I have had clicked
In reply to Debbie, May 13, 2013

"Embed ColorSync profile"

Should I not have the clicked?  Would that effect my photos more than it would the professionals. I'm still looking at both iPhoto and PSE10 to see if there is something being attached to photos

Thanks so much for your help.  I do believe that you are on the right track.

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Debbie
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In PSE it says
In reply to Debbie, May 13, 2013

When I go into the Preferences and then under General it says:

Color Picker - I have "Adobe" on.  The other option is "Apple"

Then under Color Settings I have checked "No Color Management".  The other options are: "Always Optimize Colors for Computer Screens" (says it supports sRGB color space); "Always Optimize for Printing (says it uses AdobeRGB); and "Allow Me to Choose" (assumes sRGB but will allow the flexibility to pick AdobesRMB.

I probably should be asking all these things on the MAC forum

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kenneth_manila
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"Always Optimize Colors for Computer Screens" (says it supports sRGB color space)
In reply to Debbie, May 13, 2013

Check "Always Optimize Colors for Computer Screens" (says it supports sRGB color space) and I think it'll solve your problem.

Debbie wrote:

When I go into the Preferences and then under General it says:

Color Picker - I have "Adobe" on.  The other option is "Apple"

Then under Color Settings I have checked "No Color Management".  The other options are: "Always Optimize Colors for Computer Screens" (says it supports sRGB color space); "Always Optimize for Printing (says it uses AdobeRGB); and "Allow Me to Choose" (assumes sRGB but will allow the flexibility to pick AdobesRMB.

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frank-in-toronto
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Re: calibrated screen
In reply to RedFox88, May 20, 2013

RedFox88 wrote:

This sounds like your screen is not calibrated.  If you are doing "edits" to photos and they turn out dark, that likely means your screen is set to be overly bright and over contrasty which makes your 'edits' to them actually make the images darker because they are bring displayed brighter than they actually are on your screen.  Get that?

i do not have a calibrated system at all.  what i do is check the whites and make sure they are around 245 or so. i make sure i have some blacks around 10 or less also.  this means to me that i've got the whole brightness/darkness thing ok.  my colours may be a little wrong, but as an amateur, i'm ok with that.  the few prints  have made at walmart (yes walmart), look fine.

the op needs to post 1 picture that printed dark.

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Biggs23
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Re: Why are my printed photos dark and professional photos from my computer are not
In reply to Debbie, May 20, 2013

Debbie wrote:

My daughter just had professional engagement photos taken and we bought the rights to them.  They were straight out of the professional's camera (she did not edit them at all) and so I edited them in PSE.

We're in the professional forum so I can't let the above pass without a mention. Did you purchase a FULL copyright release or simply a print release? If it's just a print release (which is the industry standard for digital files purchased by portrait clients) than you should NOT be editing those images!

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Debbie
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Re: Why are my printed photos dark and professional photos from my computer are not
In reply to Biggs23, May 24, 2013

She gave me a burned DVD with 60+ original images.  I contacted her back saying that we wanted to make a 15x15 book with each of the images we pick to be on a two page spread so we would be needing the files to be larger.  Also we are going to have two of the images blown up and have them as canvas wraps.  The photographer is burning the 20 images that we picked in larger files.  So the photographer knows we are editing and doing things to the images.

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Victor Engel
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Re: Why are my printed photos dark and professional photos from my computer are not
In reply to Biggs23, May 25, 2013

Biggs23 wrote:

Debbie wrote:

My daughter just had professional engagement photos taken and we bought the rights to them.  They were straight out of the professional's camera (she did not edit them at all) and so I edited them in PSE.

We're in the professional forum so I can't let the above pass without a mention. Did you purchase a FULL copyright release or simply a print release? If it's just a print release (which is the industry standard for digital files purchased by portrait clients) than you should NOT be editing those images!

On the other hand, if they are straight out of the camera, they may require editing in order to print well. It kind of depends partly on the settings of the camera. Different settings would optimize printing directly vs. post processing before printing.

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Victor Engel

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