An entirely disappointing exercise

Way back at the beginning of this year I embarked on a little exercise in printing. Printing of photographs no less. My photographs to be precise.
And, I have to say, the outcome wasn’t entirely satisfactory. A slight issue with colour management. Well, I say “slight” but more like bloody huge in reality.
Specifically there was quite a significant difference in colour between the prints I eventually found myself holding in my grubby little mitts and the same pics as seen on the infernal machine.

Not so much in individual colours as such but a distinct and very noticeable yellowish cast overall.
Possibly not a problem had one never seen the originals on a computer screen (though even that’s debatable) but, having seen the originals, its definitely a problem.

“Bloody hell” thinks I, “that’s terrible. What’s gone wrong?”

P’raps there’s something wrong with my pics especially that they should have come out so disastrously. Yet they look fine on the screen.
Sure, I know there’s going to be some difference, given that one medium is backlit whereas t’other is reflected light. But surely not as much as I was seeing? Surely?

As luck would have it (well, not really luck, but we don’t need to be too pedantic at the mo’) mate had also embarked upon a similar exercise, using the same print-on-demand service.

So get him to scurry over to my little hovel with his pics and we indulge in a little “I’ll show you mine if you show me yours” sort of game.

Encouragingly we discover he’s fallen victim to exactly the same affliction. Or rather, his pics have.
I say “encouragingly” cos at least it meant that its not just a fault peculiar to my pics… which I’d truly been starting to fear.

However, not so encouragingly for it also meant that a little scheme we’ve been kicking around for the past few months is gonna have to be knocked on the head until and unless we can get this sorted.

So I mull things over a bit and reflect upon how the pics were submitted to this print-on-demand outfit in the first place. Their format sorta thing. Basically, full-size hires in sRGB.

Aha! Mebbe I should have been using the Adobe(1998)RGB colourspace? S’posed to be the one to use for print, innit?
And I also seemed to recollect that the service we’d used had been offering something they called “auto colour adjustment” as default, that I’d deselected. (Not having anyone messing around with my pics had been my thinking… perhaps foolishly.)

Try again then.

Re-output full-size hires in Adobe… etc, upload to print service, select “auto colour adjustment”, and wait for the next delivery. With some trepidation.

Fully justified as it turns out. For when this second set comes back, ok, maybe the colours themselves are slightly better, but there’s still this horrendous yellowish cast.

Bloody hell!

Much discussion twixt mate and I ensues. Eventually coming to the conclusion that probably the only effective way of resolving this issue is to invest in our own photo printer. Not just any old photo printer either, but one that permits user management of colour etc.
Hmm. Likely to be a bit pricey.

Or, at post-processing stage, output two versions: one for use on the Web and t’other colour adjusted for printing (i.e., a much cooler white balance). But doing that would certainly involve a helluva lot of trial and error until we get it right. If we ever did. And it assumes that the adjustment required would be the same for each pic… about which I’m unconvinced. Nor does it seem to me to be the right approach to take.

Part of the problem is of course that this was the first time I’d ever attempted to make prints out of the pics I’ve taken so I didn’t really know what to expect. But I’m sure whatever ill-informed expectations I had were along the lines of a somewhat more faithful colour reproduction than has proven to be the case.

And there the situation has stood for some little time. In abeyance so to speak. Surrounded by a general mood of despondency emanating from mate and I over this entirely disappointing exercise. When we can be bothered to think about it.

Until a couple of days ago. When suddenly a little glimmer of something (quite conceivably malice) lightened the situation a wee bit.
For I came across this post at The Online Photographer blog.

Nice to know we’re not the only ones having colour management issues.

Heh heh.

About fotdmike

Occasional photographer; occasional writer/blogger; occasional activist; occasional computer-geek. Bit of a fool really.
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6 Responses to An entirely disappointing exercise

  1. forkboy says:

    So strange… First, the article discusses printing with a Mac, but you aren’t using a Mac with Snow Leopard. So where exactly do the two situations fit together.

    Second, I’ve printed a handful of times at home with my Epson PIctureMate Snap and have been completely satisfied with the results in every manner. Colour? Fine. Saturation? Great. Sharpness? Spot on.

    Have you verified that the printer in question (the company printing for you) is using the same colour profile (ICC) as your machine is set for?

    • fotdmike says:

      Well, first point… woulda thought that’s obvious. The thing in common is problems with colour management. That’s sufficient to make me feel a wee bit better. After all, if guys with allegedly super-duper kit are having problems I haven’t anything to complain about really, have I?

      Second point… well, bully for you! Or maybe I have a more critical eye [heh heh].

      Third point… that was part of the original difficulty. The print-on-demand company we used appears to be very vague in terms of what they’re using or of what format they prefer files in, and indeed what colour profile’s preferred/required.

      Interestingly, I’ve just now been messing around with a cheapie HP C4680 printer that’s in the office I’m presently lurking around in and, whilst still not right, the results are rather better than the prints we had done. And this is on really crap paper with no fiddling about at all, and simply grabbing one of my web-optimised files off Flickr!

  2. imetam says:

    I’ve got a perfect solution! Just don’t print the photos and you’ll not have a problem! Case solved. 😛

    Sorry…perhaps a bad sense of humor on a Sunday morning. heh heh

    • fotdmike says:

      I’m almost inclined to take that seriously and return to the happy days of yore, were it not that it’d completely scupper certain cunning schemes’n’plots that we’ve been brewing during the past few months.

      Oh pooh 😦

  3. Pingback: A load of old bols « Adventures of an Idiot – occasional ramblings of a photography freak

  4. Pingback: A cold wet fish for example | Adventures of an Idiot – occasional ramblings of a photography freak

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