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Inkjet FAQ 003: How can I easily test my lab’s print output?

This is a common question, and I have a pretty simple answer. First, it is important to have a calibrated and profiled monitor (a.k.a. display). Without going too far into that topic, the next step I recommend is to use a “target,” or test image, as a benchmark to help determine whether your monitor is displaying images properly. By printing out the target on different days and possibly on different papers, such as gloss, luster and metallic, you’ll be able to compare them side-by-side. You’ll also see whether there are significant changes from day to day.

The following 4×6-inch test file can be downloaded at the link below:

ctest_sRGB

http://www.andrewdarlow.com/ctest.zip

The file contains color and black and white images sized to 280PPI on a 4×6 canvas and saved with the sRGB working space.

You should then save the file as a JPG file (quality 9, 10, 11 or 12 is recommended-12 is best, but will create a larger file) and send the target image to your lab to print.

Because this tip is primarily for continuous-tone printers like those found in professional photo labs, the file is in the sRGB working space and Photoshop PSD format. Saving a JPG on top of a JPG is a no-no because you will keep introducing more artifacts as you save a JPG on top of a JPG. The image includes some text, which also helps to judge the sharpness of the lab’s output.

Note: It is very important to instruct your lab to turn off any color correction, or you won’t be able to properly control the color and density of your prints!

I have a similar file here with the same test image in AdobeRGB color space, which is ideal for inkjet printer testing.

Enjoy!

Article in AfterCapture Magazine June/July 2009 Issue

I just received the newest issue of After Capture magazine (June/July 2009) and I’m happy to have been able to provide another “Rip this Page Out” article. This month, I’ve provided a resolution chart , similar to the one I make available to those who subscribe to my Inkjet & Imaging Tips Newsletter, as well as a description of how to use it and what resolution to choose for different purposes.

If you qualify for a free subscription of After Capture , it will be delivered to you in hardcopy form. The June/July issue has a number of excellent articles (including one very helpful one about Lightroom, metadata and what happens behind the scenes in the application). I highly recommend taking a look at the website-AfterCapture.com. All the PDFs from the current and past issues can be downloaded there.

If you’d like to download the PDF of my article without having to visit the site, you can do that by clicking HERE.

Interview Segment on Photofocus Podcast

I recently had the honor of being interviewed for a segment of Photofocus, a podcast and website run by Scott Bourne. Most of the show is a collection of questions from readers/listeners of the show, and I think that the information presented is excellent. The main contributors to the show are Scott Bourne and Rick Sammon. They have both put a lot of film and flash cards through many cameras, and they really know their stuff.

On the show I answered some questions about how inkjet papers can be used for things other than traditional prints, and I covered some suggestions regarding image resolution.

The site is filled with a lot of photo tips and info, and I believe it is well worth a look for newbies to professional photographers. Visit this page on the site to listen to the show and read the show notes, or you can subscribe to the podcast on their site.

Inkjet FAQ002: Finding Output (Paper) Profiles in Mac OSX

Inkjet FAQ 002: I can’t find my Canon, Epson or HP profiles in my Profiles folder, but I see them in the Photoshop Profiles dropdown list under File>Print, and when I choose “Other” in the Color Management section in Lightroom’s Print Module. Why oh why???

When you install a printer driver from a CD, or by downloading it from the printer manufacturer’s website to make sure it is a current version (recommended), printer profiles are generally a part of the install. For Mac users using OSX, the profiles will usually be placed in one of three places:

1. /Library/ColorSync/Profiles (visible and usable by all users).

2. In your User folder (next to the house icon)/Library/ColorSync/Profiles (visible and usable by just the current User).

or here:

3. Main Hard Drive with your OSX system files/Library/Printers

What’s interesting is that OSX Spotlight searches for the profiles in Number 3 above don’t appear to work (at least they didn’t for me). Files in that section may be considered special files, and I’m sure a Unix/OSX systems expert will know exactly why that’s happening.

Also note that you will need to restart Photoshop (or any other color management aware application from which you are printing) if Photoshop is open when you add profiles to your Profiles folder. That will allow the profile list in Photoshop to refresh.

A more efficient way to find all the profiles on your system is by using a great application that comes free with your Mac. It is called “ColorSync Utility” and can be found in your Applications/Utilities folder.

One section of the Apple ColorSync Utility with the “Profiles” icon selected.

After launching the application, choose “Profiles” from the icons at the top of the screen, and then look down the list on the left of the screen. If you look inside the item named “Other” you will see the path to the “hidden profiles” that I mentioned in Number 3 above. You can also take a look at the profile in 3D color space.

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Event and Book Signing Friday Nov. 21, 2008 in NJ

I’d like to invite readers of InkjetTips.com to a free event this Friday evening 11/21/2008 from 6-8pm in New Brunswick, NJ at Alfa Art Gallery. I’ll primarily be showing a new series of pigment inkjet prints of images that are shown in my book, 301 Inkjet Tips and Techniques, and I’ll be answering questions about inkjet printing. I’ll also be giving away 100 signed 11×14 posters (shown below):

It is an invitation only event, and an RSVP is requested to attend. To RSVP, please visit this page.

I hope to see some InkjetTips readers there.

All the best!

Andrew

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