Calibration work-around: match your image on the monitor to your print

The frustration we most often hear from photographers making their own prints is "why doesn't my print match my monitor?" How does one achieve color management at home or in the studio? If possible, invest in a good monitor! We recommend the Eizo ColorEdge CG211 (runs around $2500) or the NEC MultiSync LCD2190 series (around $900), and calibrate using the Eye-One puck and software.

If you can’t afford either of these monitors, here’s a place to get started for monitor settings: Color temperature 6500K, gamma 1.8.

If you’re using an Apple Cinema Display, remember that these monitors are extremely saturated and contrasty, and most likely, your print will look flat and lifeless in comparison.

Assuming that you are correctly applying printer profiles, this work-around should help you better control color managmenent (we will discuss using printer profiles in a later blog post). Your best work-around is to make an adjustment layer on your Photoshop file that you TURN OFF when you go to print. Use these simple steps:

1. Make a print from an image that you think has good skin tone, contrast, nice highlights and shadows.

2. Put your print next to your monitor in decent light. Ideally you would view your print in a daylight balanced light box similar to the GTI viewers. Most people don’t have this, so use diffused, even soft window light if possible. Remember that as the light changes through-out the day in your room, so will your calibration.

3. Make an adjustment layer curve on the image you printed from, and match the image on the monitor to the print. Take your time here, match the image on the monitor to the print as best you can in terms of color, contrast, and saturation. (If you make a few layers, group them together). You should be able to do it with just one curve layer.

4. Name the adjustment layer or the group “TURN OFF WHEN PRINTING” (you can color the layer red as well, by control + clicking on the eye icon on the layer palate)

5. As you make further adjustments to the image to perfect your print, always keep that “TURN OFF WHEN PRINTING” layer on top of you layer stack.

6. Finally, make sure to turn off that layer when printing! Save a PSD file with all your layers (including the TURN OFF WHEN PRINTING layer). Duplicate the layered image, turn that layer off, then flatten (Photoshop will ask you if you want to Discard the hidden layers, click OK) and save as a Tiff file for printing.


COMING SOON: Soft proofing through Photoshop