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First, I will assume you are printing with an accurate printer profile, (a custom profile, preferably), and that you are "soft proofing" in Photoshop with the correct rendering intent and BPC. If that is the case and your prints still look dark, the most probable cause is that your monitor is calibrated to too high a white luminance value.
Try recalibrating your monitor to a white luminance of about 90 cd/m2 and see if that solves it.
If you wish to read more on this subject, I have published a paper on the subject at my website:
Click on the "Monitor and Printer Profiling" link on the left, then download the PDF file.
> there is virtually no differentiation in the print between tone which , when eyedropped in photoshop return L.a.b. values of 1,0,0 and 24,0,0
Does this mean that the values you measure in the file (1/0/0 and 24/0/0) are all solid black in your print? If so, there are problems other than the luminance of the monitor.
The first thing I would check is to be sure you are printing with Black Point Compensation checked in the Print dialog box.
There is no mention in your message of whether or not you are color-managing your print, meaning, whether or not you are printing using a properly made and tested custom profile for your printer/paper combination.
If you are not color-managing your print, all bets are off, and the output is subject to chance.
The luminance values mentioned are not solid black, obviously the value of 1,0,0 is near as matters to black in the print and on-screen, the value next door to it is significantly brighter on-screen to the point that I have an attractive monochrome print--low-key sure enough but with good detail..., however the print looks so dark that even if I pop in to display setup and totally reduce the monitor brightness I can't get near the appearance of the print....
I experimented with applying a curves layer to see how far I had to go to match the print on-screen and I had to go to Input 50% Output 68% to match it up which yielded luminance values of 1,0,0 and 6,0,0..!!!
Unfortunately this was a stop-gap print job as my usual printer is off sick so I sent prints out to a number of places to see what results would be like, this is just the first one back.....
What I am really worried about is the possibility that I have been using a print-lab who has made decisions on luminance for me and that if I head off to buy a new printer for the studio.... which was a post christmas plan... I am going to get myself in to a whole lot of deep water.... Most prints I make are monochrome so obviously luminance is of great importance... I kind of assumed that the eye1 calibration would have set that up for me... Is that an incorrect assumption... and that so long as the printer had a good profile for the paper and inks used it would match the image I see on-screen...
I hope this all makes sense
That is a truly great piece of writing on Color Perception and Management Lou; clear concise and easily understandable, most of it I knew but it was great on the printing end, which had a stab in the dark feel about in my own head...
As I was saying I am aware that I was mislead on the quality on the monitor when purchasing.. next step is a mac pro with an eizo monitor, but that is a good few "sold prints" away!! Meantime I'll try and get things down to a reasonable match... Tricky to reduce white luminance on these iMac's though... There are strings of posts with people trying to get their values down unsucessfully.. I'm going to try a few of the plug-ins and see how I get on... Must get a new eye1 also.... Don't suppose you know anything about winning lottery ticket numbers !!!
Glad you liked the articles. Sending jobs to photo labs, in my experience, has been a "hit and miss" proposition. Unless you are dealing with a high end lab with some very capable operators, it's hard to know what you will get. I have taken jobs to labs and they just blow it through their system. If their system is set to auto adjust luminance, contrast, saturation, etc, that's what you get. A lot of labs "assume" your file is sRGB and treat it accordingly. Your best bet it to send a small print to various labs, but be sure to have measurable patches on the print somewhere (21 step grayscale) so you can see how they do. Of course, they is no guarantee the same job will print the same every time if another operator does things differently. I'd probably tag the file as sRGB for safety, which will work fine if it is monochrome. If you are sending grayscale files, you may wish to use gamma 2.2 as the space, but I haven't tried that with a lab, but that would seem to be the safest course.
If you happen to deal with a small, quality-minded lab, where you can talk to an operator who is knowledgeable about color management, you might actually get an accurate print. Even then, you have to communicate with them and make SURE they honor your profile, use a good custom profile, correct rendering intent, and don't invoke any "auto" adjustments. Since you are doing B&W, you may wish to try Perceptual Rendering Intent, which will fit the tonal scale to the paper, but I'd soft proof it first to be sure you like what you see on a carefully calibrated monitor. Of course, then you have to get the lab to figure out how to use Perceptual, which could be a challenge if they are clueless.
Even many commercial printers are clueless about color management, especially ICC workflows, but if they have a good file, and good inkjet proof, they can often give you a good result using whatever method they use (if they have good process control).
Best of luck,
On a kind of related note...
I am trying out the PhotoGamut space you recommended.... I don't suppose you know if it is possible to have this appear in the drop down list of spaces that Camera Raw 2 uses (Photoshop cs) I have it in Color/profiles and color/profile/recommended but it doesn't appear in the raw dialog...
Just thought I'd ask!!
btw have you ever used a freeware program called Shades for reducing screen luminance below its minimum level as provided by systems preferences...???
Camera Raw only supports the four supplied profiles for delivery into Photoshop. If you want to try PhotoGamut, import RAW images into Photoshop using ProPhoto RGB, then convert to PhotoGamut RGB using Perceptual intent with BPC. You can do this because it is table based and supports all rendering intents. Matrix based profiles support only Relative Colorimetric.
I'm not familiar with Shades, so cannot comment.