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.
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.