soft proofing: calibrating display to match test file vs. editing proofed file to resemble unproofed

Discussion in 'Digital Darkroom' started by mark_woods, Mar 15, 2019.

  1. soft proofing: calibrating display to match test file vs. editing proofed file to resemble unproofed dupe of itself

    Please help me to improve my soft proof workflow.

    The soft proof work I've done so far is based on things I’ve tried to learn mostly from Andrew Rodney’s publicly available teachings on the topic. I find them excellent and invaluable. I mention them here in part as a way of getting us on the same page (a good page, written by an acknowledged authority) with a common reference point, and in part because I gather that the Digital Dog is a contributor to this forum, and I would love for him to chime in here if he has the time.

    I think that his teachings have (appropriately) evolved as the technology and its possibilities have evolved. Maybe my challenge now is to reconcile/integrate in my understanding some of his teachings with some of his other teachings.

    Among soft proofing's many aspects, there are two (call them Aspect A and Aspect B) that I’m trying to reconcile/integrate with one another.

    One aspect of soft proofing (call it Aspect A) entails (if I understand correctly) calibrating and profiling a display with target calibration aim points for white point, luminance, and contrast ratio in such a way as to achieve an approximate visual match between 1.) a test image file as it appears on that display soft-proofed with a profile and rendering intent for a specific printer and surface and 2.) that same test image as a hardcopy as it was printed from that same file by that specific printer on that specific surface with that same profile and rendering intent, viewed next to the display under appropriate lighting and viewing conditions. (Reducing or increasing the amount of light falling on the hardcopy can be a part of this process.) Once this match is achieved, other files can be edited to taste on that calibrated and profiled display so that prints made from them by that same printer on that same surface with the same rendering intent etc. will look as expected under appropriate lighting and viewing conditions. This aspect of soft proofing is consistent with Andrew Rodney’s teaching here:

    X-Rite i1Display Pro Advanced Features | Contrast Ratio with Coloratti Andrew Rodney - X-Rite Photo Blog

    There, he writes:

    "If you soft proof in Photoshop […], Photoshop uses the ICC printer profile to adjust the print contrast ratio onto the display. [….] It is far better to calibrate the displays contrast ratio rather than adjusting the ratio solely by using the paper and ink simulations in Photoshop. When using just Photoshop to do this simulation, only the image, not the rest of the user interface is adjusted which is far from ideal. This is where i1profiler’s new contrast ratio target calibration aim point comes into play.”

    I have used my i1 Display Pro and i1Profiler and a monitor hood and full-spectrum Solux bulbs in a way consistent with this aspect.

    Another aspect (call it Aspect B) of soft proofing (if I understand correctly) entails 1.) beginning with the standard (visual goal) of a master file that was already (on a display that was calibrated and profiled WITHOUT regard for any visual matching of a printed test image) edited/adjusted to look its best and rendered from raw to a tiff/psd/psb; and then 2.) duplicating that file so that the dupe can be viewed without soft proofing; and then 3.) in Photoshop viewing that not-soft-proofed duplicate side-by-side with the soft-proofed master file and adding layers to the master file so as to make it more closely resemble the not-soft-proofed duplicate of itself. And doing all this on a display whose white point, luminance, and contrast ratio have all been calibrated and profiled, but NOT calibrated or profiled in such a way as to achieve a match between the way a test image appears on the display and the way it appears on a print. This aspect of soft proofing is consistent with Andrew Rodney’s teaching here:

    It seems to me that these two aspects are both valid, but I don’t know whether Andrew Rodney intends for them to coexist in the same workflow. Does he? Should they? Does it make sense to do the side-by-side comparison and adding-of-layers to the master file on a display that has been calibrated and profiled as per Aspect A? It would seem that there might be some advantage to doing as much soft proofing as possible on a raw file as per Aspect A, before rendering. But how could this include a role for a Master file that was already edited/optimized as per Aspect B? And so on. Do you know what I mean? Am I the only one who's struggling to reconcile/integrate these two aspects?

    I mean these questions humbly: it’s likely that I’m missing something and misunderstanding.
    With gratitude to A.R. and any of you who can aid me with your understanding,
  2. digitaldog

    digitaldog Andrew Rodney

    Yes the coexist. Did you see the various videos addressing these steps I produced or just the PSFs? They go into more details.
  3. Hello digitaldog!

    Thank you for your reply.

    To answer your question: I’ve watched several of the videos that are on your web site. All of the videos, as far as I know, that seemed important to this matter. The two that seemed most important to this matter are this
    and this
    I watched them both carefully, more than once, recently. I learned a lot from them. Maybe I didn’t learn from them what I should have. But I’m sincerely grateful to you for making these—and so many other materials—available to us.

    I’m feeling some regret about making my original post so long without asking specific-enough questions. I apologize for that. I’ll try to home in on the things I fear I’m misunderstanding with some more specific questions here:

    Wouldn’t any Master File arrived at via “Aspect A” (insofar as it entails calibrating a display to resemble the contrast ratio of a print) be a poor starting point for making an image optimized for viewing on a web site?

    Shouldn't optimizing an image for viewing on a web site entail adjustment work on a raw file viewed on a display calibrated for the contrast ratio of a display, rather than the contrast ratio of a print?

    Is THAT the kind of image that should be rendered to become a Master File to which layers will be added in Photoshop—layers whose purpose I tried to describe in “Aspect B”?

    Or, conversely, if the Master file is to be used as a background layer in Photoshop for adding layers whose purpose is to address the effects of soft proofing for device-specific output, then wouldn’t the quality of that Master file be higher (for this purpose) if it were rendered from a raw file whose adjustments were made while viewed on a display calibrated for the contrast ratio of a print, rather than the native contrast ratio of the display? (Because "It is far better to calibrate the displays contrast ratio rather than adjusting the ratio solely by using the paper and ink simulations in Photoshop.”)

    I thought I understood that the duplicate of the Master File should look its best when viewed on a display calibrated to its native contrast ratio (with no output-specific layers). Did I understand correctly?

    And I thought that the purpose of the output-specific adjustment layers on the soft-proofed Master File was to attempt a simulation of how good that not-soft-proofed duplicate looks on a display calibrated to its native contrast ratio. Did I understand that correctly?

    But of course this comparison cannot happen on a display calibrated to resemble the contrast ratio of a print. Right?

    Again, I want to emphasize that I mean all these questions humbly. I know that any difficulty I’m having in reconciling different aspects of these processes do not point to inconsistencies in the conception of these processes.

    With gratitude,

  4. digitaldog

    digitaldog Andrew Rodney

    First of all, you can't control what other's see of your images on the web. You don't know what technology or gamut of display they are using, if they are calibrating (how?) and profiling their displays, if their browsers are color managed, the environmental conditions surrounding the display etc. Best you can do is make your images look good on your display system, perhaps 'soft proof' to sRGB for the web. So you want to render from raw, in a good raw processor a master image that looks good without taking into account any specific output device (print) or sRGB on your display for web viewing. Then when it's time for output, you'd want to setup a soft proof. First picking the rendering intent you visually prefer for each image to the print profile. THEN if necessary, you can make output specific edits based on that output soft proof to better render the image as it will print. This is far easier to do in LR because you work on virtual copies (Proof Copies) but as the video shows, you can do this in PS using Adjustment Layers within a Layer Set labeled for that printer/rendering intent for future use. I can calibrate my SpectraView to multiple calibrations but always reduce the contrast ratio closer to print output because the native ratio is massively high (1100:1) versus something like 300:1. So it is possible with the appropriate calibration software and hardware to target the ratio or build multiple ratio’s and switch on the fly in the SpectraView software.
    So again, you can make the images look very good on your display with a similar setting, but you can't target for others viewing it on the web. There are too many variables you cannot control.

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