Why Your Prints look Wrong

Sometimes your prints just don’t look right. What’s wrong? What should you do about it?

Over the years, Keith Cooper has printed thousands of photos and written many articles and reviews about printing photographs.

This articles addresses the most common problems we’ve been asked about and offers some potential solutions. It includes many links to more detailed articles and reviews that may be of help.

Modern monitors are a lot brighter by default and this skews your editing/adjustment of tones. The bright monitor opens up shadow detail, and you can clearly see things. Once you make the print, it’s likely to be viewed in dimmer lighting, and because of the way our vision works, the shadows show this up.

If you have a print that’s come out too dark, take it out on a sunny day and look at it in bright sunlight. See how it doesn’t look so dark in the shadows now?  That’s OK if you view your prints in daylight, perhaps not so when indoors.

Colour management can be a complex technical subject, but you don’t need to know all that stuff to benefit from it.

Look at the picture here. It probably looks fairly OK on your monitor, and if you only ever look at photos on your screen, then that’s fine.

If your monitor adds a slight purple cast to everything, you might not notice. Our vision is good at ignoring such things. Let’s say you adjust your photos to look good on the screen, you may even cancel out that slight purple tint in your adjustment.

The problem comes when you print the photo and that purple cast that you’ve removed becomes a greenish look to your print.

Modern screens do tend to be more accurate – well, the more expensive ones do.

Whatever screen you are using – you simply can’t adjust them by eye, or even spot where they are wrong.

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