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Soft Proofing Images

Lesson 22 from: Photographing Panoramas for Large Prints

Mike Hagen

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Lesson Info

22. Soft Proofing Images

Printing errors are expensive when you're printing out wide view panoramas that measure in feet instead of inches. Soft proofing is a technique that can help you avoid those expensive printing errors.

Lesson Info

Soft Proofing Images

So I mentioned that lady at the big box store. She got her print back, and she looked at it, and she was really disappointed. She had just spent like $75 on this big huge print, and she's like, "Oh I'm so disappointed. "It doesn't look the way I wanted it to." Well, she could've saved a lot of money if she knew what I'm about to teach you. It's called soft proofing. So what soft proofing does is it allows us to see on our computer monitor what the photo might look like when we are finished printing. So a soft proof is an electronic representation of a physical print. So what I mean by that is a lot of paper and printers have a different look when you print on them. For example, a glossy paper is gonna look totally different in the final print than a matte paper. And that will look different than a smooth fine art paper, and that will look different than a canvas. And so what soft proofing allows us to do is to on our computer screen, it allows us to see, "Oh, here is what it's gonna lo...

ok "like on a canvas versus here's what it's gonna look "like on a smooth fine art." All right, so soft proofing. Saves money. Can you imagine making all of these big panoramas and then after the end of this big panorama it costs you 10 bucks or so to make it, like, "Oh I messed up, the colors of wrong." So I recommend soft proofing. It shows the differences between your screen and the printer, and the paper. When you're working with a soft proof, you're actually working in the soft proof. You don't modify or damage or change the original photo file. So that's a cool thing about soft proofing. You can actually create this other document that you work on, make all the color manipulations and changes so that you're working in that soft proof environment. You not working on the original photo. And then before you print, a lot of times it's good to look at the before and after comparison to see what the soft proof looks like, and then what the original print looks like. And that just helps you understand, are the colors matching, is it as saturated as I want, whatever. So that's soft proofing 101. And then, here's a quick little bullet list on how to activate soft proofing. So I'm gonna show you how to do soft proofing in Lightroom. And then we'll show you how to do soft proofing in Photoshop. So the steps are, I'll just read them off here, and then we'll actually do it. Go to the Develop Module in Lightroom. You activate soft proofing. There's three ways to do it. You can type the letter S, you can go View, Soft Proofing, Soft Proof from the menus, or you just click the soft proofing checkbox from the toolbar. You click the letter Y button, the Y key on your keyboard that shows you before and after. And then if you make changes, we're gonna create a soft proof copy, so that all those changes translate into that new soft proof. All right, and then we'll get to Photoshop in just a minute. So let's go back to the computer screen here. And we'll go grab one of the beautiful photos that we created. Let's do, let's do that one. So I typed the letter D, and that goes to my develop module. And just so we can see things a little bit clearer, I'm going to minimize my left hand panel, so that the image shows up a little bit bigger. Well, it's still loading the image. How big is this thing? What, this is like 40,000 pixels wide. (laughing in the background) Okay, yeah, this one's 40,000 pixels. Of course I picked the biggest resource-intensive photo to work on. That's okay. So I make some changes. Like I said before, highlight's down, shadow's up, exposure up. You know, I'm looking at it on my computer monitor now, and my computer monitor is a little bit darker, because remember we calibrated it. So maybe I'd be tempted to go, let's brighten it up a little bit. Okay, cool. Now let's go look at the soft proof. So I mentioned there's three ways to do it. One is to type the letter S. So here I type S. And you can see in the upper right-hand corner of the screen, it says proof, preview. I'm gonna type S again, and it takes it back to the standard view. Let me show you the other way to do this. I'm gonna move my mouse down here to the bottom part, and down on my toolbar, right here at the bottom of my develop pane screen, there's a button that says soft proofing. This is the toolbar, and if the toolbar isn't showing up in your software, just type the letter T on your keyboard. T shows or hides the toolbar down there. So T. So now I'm gonna click soft proofing, and that basically does the same thing as before. Huh, interesting. So is there any difference between image one versus image two? Well, in this case, not a whole lot. Well, why? Well, it's because my profile that I'm using here in the upper right-hand corner, is Adobe RGB. Well, what does that profile mean? That is actually the destination profile. So the soft proof is looking at the destination. Well, my destination isn't Adobe RGB. My destination is that printer over there in our studio. So I need to actually go over here and choose the Epson P600, FE170.icm. All right, what is that? That's an actual paper profile that works with that printer. I downloaded it from the paper manufacturer's website, and then loaded here into Lightroom so that now I can see before and after on that. So I'm gonna type the letter Y. And actually, I'm gonna type the letter Y, Shift + Y. Nope, I want it to go top to bottom. I think there's one over here that'll go top to bottom. Here we go. There! Here we go. Okay, so let's look at those two images. The top image is the current photo, and the bottom image is the proof preview photo. And we don't see a whole lot of difference between those two. If you look critically, you'll actually see, you'll actually see a little bit down here in the deep dark shadows. When you go to print, a lot of times you lose shadow detail. So I'm always looking down here to see, do I still detail my leaves or not? But they're very similar. They are actually very close, which makes me happy. Now, if I downloaded another profile. Let's say I wanted to use like a matte paper or a smooth fine art paper. You'll see that the proof preview looks very flat. Smooth fine art oftentimes gives you lower contrast and a flatter image. We think of, think of smooth fine art as more like your, I don't know, your painterly prints. Maybe inkjet, not inkjet but watercolor. That's the word I'm trying to come up with. So the paper that you choose and the printer you choose can dramatically impact that proof preview, and the final product. All right, so, so what? So let's just say that my proof preview looked flat. What do I do? Well, I go back here into Lightroom, and I turn off my comparison, my y y thing. I go back to just the regular view. And now if I clicked this button up here in the upper right-hand corner, it says Create Proof Copy. So what that's gonna do now is it's gonna create a new image. And now I can work on that image. And I can brighten up the shadows, and I can add contrast if I need to. I can do basically anything else I need to on the image, and then I still, if you see down here on the bottom, I still have my original to fall back on and compare to. So let's just for argument sake, say I want to do that. So now I'm gonna brighten up back up again. Again, this is a huge, huge, I shouldn't have done that on that image. Anyways, I brighten it up, and I can compare and contrast, go back and forth between those two. Original proof, original proof. Okay. So that's soft proofing inside of Lightroom. Let me show you soft proofing inside of Photoshop, and to do that, I'm gonna choose a smaller image this time. Go back to my (taps tongue), go back here. This one will work. All right, so I'm gonna take that image. We've already processed it. It's all ready to go. I'm gonna head off to Photoshop. And I'll go Edit In, Photoshop. And I'm going to edit a copy with all the Lightroom adjustments. Yes. Okay. Now, here is the embedded profile mismatch. Remember earlier we had, we checked those three little boxes down below? It said, "Hey, what do you want to do "when it's coming from ProPhoto "and moving over here to Adobe RGB? "Do you want Photoshop to actually do "that calculation, to do that change?" And I'm gonna just, for this example, I'm just gonna say yes. So I say convert document's colors into the current working space. So I click OK. All right, so there's the current working space. Now I say, "Hey, I want to learn what this is going to look "like when I finally go to print." All right, so I'm gonna minimize this. This is a little plug-in that I use from Nick. It's actually Google now. So I'm gonna minimize that, so it's out of our way. All right so here's what we do. We go up here to the top, and go View, Proof Setup. So what Proof Setup, in other words, think of this as destination set up, like where is it gonna go? Okay, well it's gonna go to my Epson P600 with my special paper that I bought. And there it is, Epson P600 InkPress, that's the brand name, Luster. So I click that, and maybe you didn't see what happened there in the screen, so I'll go back here back to View, and you'll see there's a little checkbox at the top. It says Proof Colors, which is Command + Y. So if I just, I'm just gonna do that on my keyboard, I'm gonna go, Command or Ctrl on the Windows machines, Command + Y. So here's the unproofed. And then, here we go. Proof. Unproofed, and proof. So what's happening? Ah, interesting. It's gonna get darker and the blacks are actually gonna get, we're gonna lose detail on the blacks when I do that, when I go to finally print it. So does that concern me? If no, then I just go print. If yes, then I go back and re-edit the photo, reprocess it, brighten it up, and fix it. So that's proofing inside of Photoshop. Right on. Okay, so we're gonna move now to paper selection, but before I do, I can imagine there's a question or two out there about proofing. Oh, they're generally, generally are, but thank you for walking us through this again, this is very, more people get very tripped up. Do you save different versions, this is from photo maker, of process images under different filenames based on their, say you're doing a different paper for this version and different paper, like how do you manage the different versions of the same image that you're doing? Great. That's why I love, it's a great question. That's why I love using Lightroom. Lightroom basically manages, helps me manage all of this. And so, I typically, you know, when I make a proof copy, let's go back up to my main scene here in Lightroom. And let's just say that, I'll just pick a smaller file this time. Here we go. I'll pick that one. So let's say I'm working on this image and I'm happy with where it's that. Now I'm ready to print it, but I'm like, "Oh, you know what. "I want to do a soft proof." So I type the letter S, oops. I gotta be in develop, there we go. So now, I do this, and I type the letter S, and I go to soft proof. And I'm like, you know, I don't really like it, so I make some changes and now I've got the soft proof copy. So what do I do with that? Well, it's actually saved as another TIF, or another image. Actually it's a copy. You see it says copy one down here in the bottom. It says pano.dng, and then copy one. So it's just another file that sits right next to it, and in Lightroom, I don't really have to create another subfolder. I don't have to create another file. It's just there ready and accessible for me. In Photoshop, if you have a Photoshop based workflow, well then the answer is yes. You need to save an alternative copy. So I would have original filename, and then, sub, I would say, proof, Epson, Hahnemuhle paper, or smooth Epson canvas paper. And so that's the note to me that when I see that filename, I know that it's a separate file, soft proof for that specific printer and paper mix, so. Yes I do sometimes, if I'm working outside of Lightroom, because my whole world lives in Lightroom, I just keep everything inside of Lightroom and the files reside next to each other.

Class Materials

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Ratings and Reviews

Fred Morton

Get it, get it and get it. I bought Mike's Speedlight course and this is on the list after watching it on line. The course design by Mike with the Creative Live staff is a successful blend of content and presentation. I absolutely loved how Mike took us on location for several shoots, where we could see the setup and problems that he had to resolve. This is a must have course for photographers interested in landscape work. Another powerful part of this class is Mike's willingness to demonstrate and show us what didn't work. The practical experience in his course was just like being in the field with Mike.

user a5f3c6

Mike combines two characteristics of a great teacher: he's obviously knowledgable and competent about his subject matter and he's relaxed and confident in how he presents his ideas. This class covers everything I need to know about photographing and printing panoramas. But, it is much more. It is a class that shows the essential skills involved in shooting, post-processing, and printing photographs and how to apply them to a specific application: panoramas. I learned a lot! Thanks, Mike.

Sue Sirius

This workshop was terrific! I learned so much about taking, processing and printing panoramas (and photos in general). I found the presentation very easy to follow with great examples and instructions. Highly recommend this!

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