Monitor Calibration Update

Monitor Calibration Update

Okay, so I no longer NEED a new monitor, because I’ve got one – and my wallet is in Leighton Hospital Intensive Care Unit on the critical list..

What have you gone for Andy?  Well if you remember, in my last post I was undecided between 24″ and 27″, Eizo or BenQ.  But I was favoring the Eizo CS2420, on the grounds of cost, both in terms of monitor and calibration tool options.

But I got offered a sweet deal on a factory-fresh Eizo CS270 by John Willis at Calumet – so I got my desire for more screen real-estate fulfilled, while keeping the costs down by not having to buy a new calibrator.

%name Monitor Calibration Update

But it still hurt to pay for it!

Monitor Calibration

There are a few things to consider when it comes to monitor calibration, and they are mainly due to the physical attributes of the monitor itself.

In my previous post I did mention one of them – the most important one – the back light type.

CCFL and WCCFL – cold cathode fluorescent lamps, or LED.

CCFL & WCCFL (wide CCFL) used to be the common type of back light, but they are now less common, being replaced by LED for added colour reproduction, improved signal response time and reduced power consumption.  Wide CCFL gave a noticeably greater colour reproduction range and slightly warmer colour temperature than CCFL – and my old monitor was fitted with WCCFL back lighting, hence I used to be able to do my monitor calibration to near 98% of AdobeRGB.

CCFL back lights have one major property – that of being ‘cool’ in colour, and LEDs commonly exhibit a slightly ‘warmer’ colour temperature.

But there’s LEDs – and there’s LEDs, and some are cooler than others, some are of fixed output and others are of a variable output.

The colour temperature of the backlighting gives the monitor a ‘native white point’.

The ‘brightness’ of the backlight is really the only true variable on a standard type of LCD display, and the inter-relationship between backlight brightness and colour temperature, and the size of the monitors CLUT (colour look-up table) can have a massive effect on the total number of colours that the monitor can display.

Industry-standard documentation by folk a lot cleverer than me has for years recommended the same calibration target settings as I have alluded to in previous blog posts:

White Point: D65 or 6500K

Brightness: 120 cdm² or candelas per square meter

Gamma: 2.2

Screen Shot 2017 04 02 at 13.04.25 Monitor Calibration Update

The ubiquitous ColorMunki Photo ‘standard monitor calibration’ method setup screen.

This setup for ‘standard monitor calibration’ works extremely well, and has stood me in good stead for more years than I care to add up.

As I mentioned in my previous post, standard monitor calibration refers to a standard method of calibration, which can be thought of as ‘software calibration’, and I have done many print workshops where I have used this method to calibrate Eizo ColorEdge and NEC Spectraviews with great effect.

However, these more specialised colour management monitors have the added bonus of giving you a ‘hardware monitor calbration’ option.

To carry out a hardware monitor calibration on my new CS270 ColorEdge – or indeed any ColorEdge – we need to employ the Eizo ColorNavigator.

The start screen for ColorNavigator shows us some interesting items:

colnav1 Monitor Calibration Update

The recommended brightness value is 100 cdm² – not 120.

The recommended white point is D55 not D65.

Thank God the gamma value is the same!

Once the monitor calibration profile has been done we get a result screen of the physical profile:

colnav2 Monitor Calibration Update

Now before anyone gets their knickers in a knot over the brightness value discrepancy there’s a couple of things to bare in mind:

  1. This value is always slightly arbitrary and very much dependent on working/viewing conditions.  The working environment should be somewhere between 32 and 64 lux or cdm² ambient – think Bat Cave!  The ratio of ambient to monitor output should always remain at between 32:75/80 and 64:120/140 (ish) – in other words between 1:2 and 1:3 – see earlier post here.
  2. The difference between 100 and 120 cdm² is less than 1/4 stop in camera Ev terms – so not a lot.

What struck me as odd though was the white point setting of D55 or 5500K – that’s 1000K warmer than I’m used to. (yes- warmer – don’t let that temp slider in Lightroom cloud your thinking!).

1000k Monitor Calibration UpdateAfter all, 1000k is a noticeable variation – unlike the brightness 20cdm² shift.

Here’s the funny thing though; if I ‘software calibrate’ the CS270 using the ColorMunki software with the spectro plugged into the Mac instead of the monitor, I visually get the same result using D65/120cdm² as I do ‘hardware calibrating’ at D55 and 100cdm².

The same that is, until I look at the colour spaces of the two generated ICC profiles:

profile Monitor Calibration Update

The coloured section is the ‘software calibration’ colour space, and the wire frame the ‘hardware calibrated’ Eizo custom space – click the image to view larger in a separate window.

The hardware calibration profile is somewhat larger and has a slightly better black point performance – this will allow the viewer to SEE just that little bit more tonality in the deepest of shadows, and those perennially awkward colours that sit in the Blue, Cyan, Green region.

It’s therefore quite obvious that monitor calibration via the hardware/ColorNavigator method on Eizo monitors does buy you that extra bit of visual acuity, so if you own an Eizo ColorEdge then it is the way to go for sure.

Having said that, the differences are small-ish so it’s not really worth getting terrifically evangelical over it.

But if you have the monitor then you should have the calibrator, and if said calibrator is ‘on the list’ of those supported by ColorNavigator then it’s a bit of a JDI – just do it.

You can find the list of supported calibrators here.

Eizo and their ColorNavigator are basically making a very effective ‘mash up’ of the two ISO standards 3664 and 12646 which call for D65 and D50 white points respectively.

Why did I go CHEAP ?

Well, cheaper…..

Apart from the fact that I don’t like spending money – the stuff is so bloody hard to come by – I didn’t want the top end Eizo in either 27″ or 24″.

With the ‘top end’ ColorEdge monitors you are paying for some things that I at least, have little or no use for:

  • 3D CLUT – I’m a general sort of image maker who gets a bit ‘creative’ with my processing and printing.  If I was into graphics and accurate repro of Pantone and the like, or I specialised in archival work for the V & A say, then super-accurate colour reproduction would be critical.  The advantage of the 3D CLUT is that it allows a greater variety of SUBTLY different tones and hues to be SEEN and therefore it’s easier to VISUALLY check that they are maintained when shifting an image from one colour space to another – eg softproofing for print.  I’m a wildlife and landscape photographer – I don’t NEED that facility because I don’t work in a world that requires a stringent 100% colour accuracy.
  • Built-in Calibrator – I don’t need one ‘cos I’ve already got one!
  • Built-in Self-Correction Sensor – I don’t need one of those either!

So if your photography work is like mine, then it’s worth hunting out a ‘zero hours’ CS270 if you fancy the extra screen real-estate, and you want to spend less than if buying its replacement – the CS2730.  You won’t notice the extra 5 milliseconds slower response time, and the new CS2730 eats more power – but you do get a built-in carrying handle!


Prospec USB 3.0 card reader

Prospec USB 3.0 card reader.

A few weeks ago I decided that my Mac Pro4.1 early 2009 needed to be upgraded to USB 3, seeing as I’d not long since fitted it with an SSD for the OS – yes, I found myself in the mood to spend money; obviously I was unwell!

So I bought a 4-port expansion card from Mac Upgrades, installed it in the Mac and connected my 8TB G-drive – and all has worked perfectly ever since.

Being a mainly Nikon user, the XQD reader showed an instant improvement in transfer speed too, but for all my CF cards I was still stuck with my ancient Sandisk USB 2 reader.

I perused a few USB 3 reader prices in was left gasping – obviously I was now feeling a little better!

But then I spied this:

D4D3688 Edit Prospec USB 3.0 card reader

Prospec USB 3.0 Multi-Card Reader

Twenty quid! That’s right, just £20 – bargain!

Real world read-speed testing using Black Magic, and 32 GB Prospec 1010x CF cards yield the following results:

  1. Sandisk USB 2 reader – 36.9 MB/sec
  2. Prospec USB 3.0 reader – 112.7 MB/sec

and just as a comparison, the Sony XQD reader and H-series card averages 139.2 MB/sec.

Previous blog posts have shown you that I’m a fan of Calumet Prospec CF cards; mainly because they are re-badged Delkins, and in my experience simply bomb-proof and good VFM.

I can’t say for sure without checking, but this Prospec USB 3 reader looks VERY much like a re-brand of the Delkin USB 3.0 multi-card reader, but is basically £10 cheaper.

It certainly sucks up uncompressed D800E 14bit RAW files at an impressive rate of knots I can tell you.

In my earlier Prospec CF card post I did allude to the slightly odd fact that the larger the CF card capacity was, the faster its read speed became.  I also bought a 64Gb Prospec 1010x, just to give the D800E more capacity for shooting HQ time-lapse – this card clocks a read-speed average of 119.8 MB/sec – basically 7MB/sec faster than its 32GB cousin.

Yes, there’s cards and readers out there that might yield faster results; but at what cost to your pocket?

But this level of “REAL WORLD” performance is plenty fast enough for yours truly – especially if, like me, you have short arms and long pockets!

You can view the product HERE – BUY one!


Prospec 32Gb UDMA 7 CF

 The Prospec 32Gb UDMA 7 Compact Flash Card from Calumet – review

Prospec Prospec 32Gb UDMA 7 CF

The Prospec 32Gb UDMA 7 Compact Flash Card from Calumet – click image to visit the product order page.

Because I’m something of a photographic ‘old fart’ and have been taking images for a living since before the venerable A1 was a glimmer in some Canon engineers eye, I treat everything new with suspicion!

Back in those days when we shot on film, suspicious gits like me had our favourite films we used.  These were whittled down from the vast array on offer, not only on the basis of their performance, but also on reliability.

Did the sprocket holes tear in a particular cameraif they did then to avoid imminent disaster you’d never put that film in that camera.

Were the ‘tails’ always taped to the cassette spool? Christ, that one nearly cost me a boat-load of money at a wedding once – both bride and groom were barristers!

Thank the Lord we don’t have problems like that any more.

But CF cards come with their equivalent problem – card failure.

CF cards are basically Flash RAM, just like SSDs in the latest computers.  And as such they are prone to some degree of instant failure over time.

 The Way I Use Camera Storage Media

When I’ve finished shooting something I move it from the camera storage to my main imaging machine as soon as possible.  Once the shots are on the computer, the card goes back in the camera and is immediately reformatted.

Back when the D3 was Nikon’s flagship I’d had some clonking failures of Lexar CF cards and Sandisk Ultras, when Kevin Treadwell at TFC Birmingham put me on to Delkin cards – and I have never had a problem with them………(see footnote)…

And the two original 16Gb Delkins I bought for the D3 are still going strong to this day!

So when I eventually moved to the D4 I wanted a 32Gb Delkin UDMA 7 to go with the 32Gb Sony XQD, but I couldn’t locate one anywhere.

I was moaning about this to Stuart Tudor-Wood at Calumet Birmingham and he suggested I tried their own Prospec 32Gb UDMA 7 instead.

Can you imagine what the “suspicious old photography fart” in me was saying; I was used to possibly the most reliable memory on the planet, and the priciest; and here was something I’d never heard of, and costing pretty much the same..

I did manage to walk out of the door without paying for it, so that was a small victory – but it only lasted 3 weeks until I was doing another workshop there – he nailed me for it the minute I walked through the door!

So, here we are, two years later.  The other day I realised how long I’d had this card in regular use.  It’s a mighty rare occurrence for me to have a day shooting long lens action and not generate some use of the CF card.

Even if I’ve only shot to the XQD card, force of habit leads me to format both cards one after the other.

And if I’m going to shoot video I shoot that to the XQD and then remove it if I want to shoot stills, which consequently go to the CF card.

When I’m testing lenses and shooting for workshop slides etc I shoot to the CF card, then stick that in my steam-powered laptop – it can never see my XQD reader and I daren’t even think about asking it to accommodate tethered shooting..

I bought the card a new brother so I had two of them in the 1DX when I went to Norway in February this year.

All in all, looking back through all the image batches I’ve shot I reckoned that this one card had been reformatted 981 times in a selection of camera bodies from a 1DX and 5DMk3 to a D4S, D4, D800, D800E and D810.

In the D4 this card allows me to shoot 41 14bit uncompressed raw files before I hit the end of the camera buffer; which let’s face it, is plenty.

So I promptly set about shooting 20 bursts of 41 frames, wiping the card between bursts, just so that I could say with some degree of certainty that the card had just hit its 1000th reformat.

Now THAT is a good, solid and highly reliable card that has put up with more abuse in the last two years than some of my clients would give their CF cards in a lifetime.

What Do The ‘Hieroglyphics’ All Mean?

I must admit to being somewhat ambivalent to the majority of these speed numbers – at the end of the day, as a photographer you are more interested in sustained write speed than you are in read speed – or at least you should be.

The faster the write speed of the media the longer it takes to hit the end of the camera internal buffer – this means you shoot more sequential frames in a burst.

CF6 Prospec 32Gb UDMA 7 CF

This logo means the media is compliant with the CFA’s CF6 specification, which is supposed to provide data transfer rates of 167Mb/sec.

But that quoted transfer rate could be either read or write – they never seem to commit!

CF6 specification means UDMA 7 compliance; whereas UDMA 6 equated to CF 5 specification and transfer speeds of 133Mb/sec.

CF cards have to communicate with a host device – in our case our camera; and UMDA is the most efficient and fastest mode of communication. But not ALL cameras are UDMA compliant.  And those that are might not be UDMA 7 compliant.

If a camera is not UDMA compatible then believe it or not, a slower non-UDMA card might make the camera work faster. If you put a UDMA 7 card in a camera that is only UDMA 6 compliant then that’s fine, but communication between the two will be at UDMA 6 speeds.

The moral here is to check your camera specifications, and available firmware upgrades.

What does 1010x mean? Known as the card Commercial X Rating it’s an indication of read speed more than anything else, and basically relates the speed of the card as a multiple of the old CD-ROM standard of 150KBs.  So 1010x equates to 151.15Mbs.

But here’s the thing; none of these speeds, theoretical or otherwise, are derived via a camera – they are all acquired on a test-bench computer and a variety of card interfaces.

There is a simple if slightly ‘rough ‘n ready’ test that you can do to check the camera/media combo write speed:

  1. Set the camera to its fastest RAW shooting frame rate (Canon 1DX users note, that’s NOT 14fps!).
  2. Set the burst length to 30 frames.
  3. Put the camera in manual mode, auto iso, and set the shortest shutter speed.

Get a stop-watch and be prepared to start it when the ‘data write’ indicator lights up.

Press and hold the shutter button to start the burst of exposures, take your finger off the shutter button when the camera stops shooting.  The indicator light will still be on, and the stop watch should still be running.  Stop the clock when the light goes out!

Multiply the number of frames by the size of your RAW file, then divide the result by the time in seconds and you’ll have a rough value for your data write speed in Mb/sec.

In a Canon 1DX the Prospec 32Gb UDMA 7 CF card chugs away at a highly respectable 69Mbs write speed.

32Gb of storage with great reliability and ‘real world’ write speed like that is great – especially for the price.

Nikon Users

If, like me, you mainly shoot uncompressed 14 bit RAW (not an option for Canon shooters) the write speed of the Prospec 32Gb UDMA 7 CF card in a D4/4S will drop to around 41Mbs due to the much increased file size of each RAW frame – 35.9Mb average RAW size, as opposed to the 1DX average file size of around 26.4Mb.

But sensible burst shooting in conjunction with the huge Nikon D4/4S buffer means you will never suffer from ‘buffer lock-out’.


Bearing in mind that this is just my opinion, the Prospec 32Gb UDMA 7 CF card represents exceptionally good value for money.  Yes, there are faster cards out there; but I’ve been bitten by both S****** and L**** in the past, and ‘once bitten twice shy’ and all that……

For me the write/format longevity of this card is what strikes me the most, and for the price this card is well worthy of anyone’s consideration.

D4D2589 900x599 Prospec 32Gb UDMA 7 CF

Two years and over 1000 reformats, the Prospec 32Gb UDMA 7 CF card is still going strong – have a Kite!


I’ve just had it confirmed……..the Prospec is actually Delkin; so bearing in mind what I said earlier, the reliability comes as no surprise!

Please consider supporting this blog.

This blog really does need your support. All the information I put on these pages I do freely, but it does involve costs in both time and money.

If you find this post useful and informative please could you help by making a small donation – it would really help me out a lot – whatever you can afford would be gratefully received.

Donations would help offset the costs of running this blog and so help me to bring you lots more useful and informative content.

Many thanks in advance.


Brilliant Supreme Lustre Ultimate Paper

Brilliant Supreme Lustre Paper Review

(26/07/2015: Important update added at end of post re: Canon Pixma Pro 1 .icc profile from the Brilliant website).

Printing an image is the final part of the creative process, and I don’t think there are many of my peers who would disagree with me on that score.

Whenever I’m teaching printing, be it a 1to1 session or a workshop group, I invariably get asked what my recommendation for a good general purpose printing paper would be – one that would suit the widest spread of image styles and subjects.

Until quite recently that recommendation was always the same – Permajet Oyster.

It’s a wide gamut paper – it reproduces a lot of colour and hue variation – that has a high level of brightness and is really easy to soft-proof to in Lightroom. And even though it’s not absolutely colour neutral, it’s natural base tint isn’t too cool to destroy the atmosphere in a hazy orange sunset seascape.

But, after months of printing and testing I have now changed my mind – and for good reason.

BSLU Brilliant Supreme Lustre Ultimate Paper

Brilliant Supreme Lustre Ultimate paper from Calumet is my new recommendation for general printing, and for anyone who wants printing with the minimum of fuss and without the hassle of trying to decide what paper to choose.

Let’s look at how the two papers stack up:

Paper Weight:

Permajet Oyster 271gsm

Brilliant Supreme Lustre Ultimate 300gsm

A heavier paper is a good thing in my book; heavier means thicker, and that means a bit more structural stability; a boon when it comes to matting and mounting, and general paper handling.

Paper Tint & Base Neutrality:

Permajet Oyster:     RGB 241,246,243

Brilliant Supreme Lustre Ultimate:     RGB 241,245,245

The above RGB values are measured using a ColorMunki Photo in spot colour picker mode, as are the L,a,b values below.

L,a,b Luminosity Value:

Permajet Oyster:     96.1

Brilliant Supreme Lustre Ultimate:     95.8

So both papers have the same red value in their ‘paper white’, but both have elevated green and blue values, and yes, green + blue = cyan!

But the green/blue ratios are different – they are skewed in the Permajet Oyster, but 1:1 in the Brilliant paper – so where does this leave us in terms of paper proofing?

The image below is a fully processed TIFF open in Lightroom and ready for soft-proofing:

BSLU2 600x375 Brilliant Supreme Lustre Ultimate Paper

Now if we load the image into the Permajet Oyster colour space – that’s all soft proofing is by the way – we can see a number of changes, all to the detriment of the image:

BSLU3 600x375 Brilliant Supreme Lustre Ultimate Paper

The image has lost luminance, the image has become slightly cooler overall but, there is a big colour ‘skew’ in the brown, reds and oranges of both the eagle and the muted background colours.

Now look at what happens when we send the image into the Brilliant Supreme Lustre Ultimate colour space:

BSLU4 600x375 Brilliant Supreme Lustre Ultimate Paper

Yes the image has lost luminance, and there is an overall colour temperature change; but the important thing is that it’s nowhere near as skewed as it was in the Permajet Oyster soft-proofing environment.

The more uniform the the colour change the easier it is to remove!

BSLU5 600x375 Brilliant Supreme Lustre Ultimate Paper

The only adjustments I’ve needed to make to put me in the middle of the right ball park are a +6 Temp and +2 Clarity – and we are pretty much there, ready to press the big “print me now” button.

The image below just serves to show the difference between the proof adjusted and unadjusted image:

BSLU6 600x375 Brilliant Supreme Lustre Ultimate Paper

But here is the same image soft-proofed to pretty much the same level, but for Permajet Oyster paper – click the image to see it at full size, just look at the number of adjustments I’ve had to do to get basically the same effect:

BSLU7 600x375 Brilliant Supreme Lustre Ultimate Paper

Couple of things – firstly, apologies for the somewhat violent image – the wife just pointed that out to me!  Secondly though, after testing various images of vastly differing colour distributions and gamuts, I consistently find I’m having to do less work in soft-proofing with the Brilliant Supreme Lustre Ultimate paper than its rival.  Though I must stress that the adjustments don’t always follow the same direction for obvious reasons..

Media Settings:

These are important.  For most printers the Oyster paper has a media setting recommendation on Epson printers ( someone once told me there were other makes that used bubbles – ewee, yuck) of Premium Gloss Photo Paper or PGPP.  But I find that PSPP (Premium Semi Gloss Photo Paper) works best on my 4800,  and I know that it’s the recommended media setting for the Epson SCP600.

See update below for Canon Pixma Pro 1 media settings and new updated .icc profile


Buy a 25 sheet box A3 HERE or 50 sheet box A4 size HERE

They say time is money, so anything that saves time is a no-brainer, especially if it costs no more than its somewhat more labour-intensive alternative.

Gamut1 900x840 Brilliant Supreme Lustre Ultimate Paper

The gamut or colour spaces of the two paper ‘canned profiles’ is shown above – red plot is the Brilliant Supreme Lustre Ultimate and white is Oyster – both profiles being for the Epson 4800.  Yes, the Calumet paper gamut is slightly smaller, but in real terms and with real-world images and the relative colour-metric rendering intent I’ve not noticed any short-comings whatsoever.

I have little doubt that the gamut of the paper would be expanded further with the application of a custom profile, but that’s a whole other story.

Running at around £1 per sheet of A3 it’s no more expensive than any other top quality general printing paper, and it impresses the heck out of me with relatively neutral base tint.

So easy to print to – so buy some!

I’ll be demonstrating just how well this paper works at a series of Print Workshops for Calumet later in the year, where we’ll be using the Epson SC-P600 printer, which is the replacement for the venerable R3000.


Canon Pixma Pro One .ICC Profile

If anyone has tried using the Lustre profile BriLustreCanPro1.icc that was available for download on the Brilliant website, then please STOP trying to use it – it’s an abomination and whoever produced it should be shot.

I discovered just how bad it was when I was doing a print 1to1 day and the client had a PixmaPro1 printer.  I spoke to Andy Johnson at Calumet and within a couple of days a new profile was sorted out and it works great.

Now that same new profile is available for download at the Brilliant website HERE – just click and download the zip file.  In the file you will find the new .icc profile which goes by the name of BriLustreCanonPro1_PPPL_1.icc

I got them to add the media settings acronym in the profile name – a la Permajet – so set the paper type to Photo Paper Pro Lustre when using this paper on the Pixma Pro 1.

Please consider supporting this blog.

This blog really does need your support. All the information I put on these pages I do freely, but it does involve costs in both time and money.

If you find this post useful and informative please could you help by making a small donation – it would really help me out a lot – whatever you can afford would be gratefully received.

Donations would help offset the costs of running this blog and so help me to bring you lots more useful and informative content.

Many thanks in advance.


Autofocus Drill-down

Long Lens Autofocus Considerations.

If you read my previous post about the 1Dx sensor you will have seen that I mentioned my, as yet unfinished, tome about long lens autofocus for wildlife photography.  It’s a frustrating project because I keep having to change various bits to make them simpler, re-order certain paragraphs etc.

But I thought I’d blog-post something here that I expand on in the project, and it’s something an awful lot of people NEVER take into consideration.

As a Nikon user I’m used to the vagaries of the Nikon AF system and I manage to work with it just fine – I have to!

But photographers who don’t shoot wildlife, and don’t use 400mm or 500mm lumps of glass as their “standard lens” might not find the vagaries I bitch about quite so apparent; indeed some might not come across them at all.

As a wildlife photographer I shoot in crappy light, I shoot with slow lenses (both in terms of f-number and focus speed), I shoot low contrast subjects on equally low contrast backgrounds, I’m constantly shooting brown-on-brown, grey on grey etc, I shoot stupidly small subjects….the list goes on!

For years, good wildlife photography has been done by pushing camera/lens capabilities beyond their performance design parameters; and this particularly applies to our “expectations” of our latest and greatest AF system – be it Canon or Nikon.

I find so many people who come to my workshops etc. are not even aware of this one simple fact – sharp focus requires more work AND increased speed of work by the lens AF motor the closer a subject is to the camera.

Just try looking at the delineations on the focusing ring of a lens:

D3C6337 900x599 Autofocus Drill down

Canon 200-400 focused at 20 meters. (Lens porn WARNING: This lens will cause movements in the front-of-trouser department).

Look at the scale and note the distance between 20m and 50m marks – that distance is indicative of the amount of work required of the autofocus controller and motor to move from 20m to 50m or vice versa.

Now look where the 10m mark is – it requires FAR MORE work from the focus controller and motor to move from 20m to 10m, than it did to move the 30 meters from 50m to 20m.

On top of that extra work, if we are tracking a subject moving at 10 meters per second the lens takes 3 seconds to move from 50m to 20m, but then has to move a lot FASTER as well to cover the extra workload moving from 20m to 10m in just 1 second.

Then you wonder why your Nikon D40 + Sigma 50-500mm is crap at doing “birds in flight”; you never realise that your autofocus system is bag of spanners and powered by a hamster on a wheel…….it’s just not fast enough kids

Autofocus accuracy is nothing without speed if you are wanting to do productive wildlife photography.

As I alluded to before, as a photographer of the old wildlife I, and YOU will always encounter problems that users in other photographic disciplines may not, or if they do then the problem has a lot less impact than it does for us.

Think of it this way – a sports photographer will use a 500mm f4 to photograph a 6 foot tall overpaid git who’s 25m to 70m away, on a sunny Saturday afternoon or under a squillion watts of flood lighting; and he’s looking for a 6×12 for the back page of the Sunday Sport.  I’ll use the same lens to photograph a cute Red Squirrel at 5m to 7m in a gloomy wood in the middle of winter and I’m looking for a full size, full resolution image for stock.

SquidgerPor 900x620 Autofocus Drill down

Red Squirrel – this is basically the FURTHEST DISTANCE you could shoot at with a 500mm lens and still get a meaningful composition. Click for larger view.

Note the distance – 631/100 – that means 6.31 meters. Aperture is f8, so DoF is around 7 centimeters.

The image is UNCROPPED as are all the other images in this post

We don’t really want to be any further away because “his cuteness” will be too small in the frame:

The factors effecting subject distance choice are:

  1.  lens resolving power – small, fine details need to be as close as possible.*
  2.  sensor resolving power – we need as many pixels as possible covering the subject.*
  3.  auto focus point placement accuracy – if the subject is too small in the frame, point placement is inaccurate.
  4. general “in camera” composition

*These two are inextricably intertwined

I’ve indicated the active focus point on the above image too  because here’s a depth of field “point of note” – autofocus wastes DoF.  Where is the plane of focus? Just between the eyes of the squirrel.

Assuming the accepted modern norm of DoF distribution – 50/50 – that’s 3.5 centimeters in front of the plane of focus, or indicted AF point, that will be sharp.  Only problem there is that the squirrel’s nose is only around 1 centimeter closer to the camera than the AF point, so the remaining 2 .5 centimeters of DoF is wasted on a sharp rendition of the fresh air between its nose and the camera!!

Now let’s change camera orientation and go a bit closer to get the very TIGHTEST shot composition:

SquidgerLs 900x370 Autofocus Drill down

Red Squirrel – this is basically the CLOSEST DISTANCE you could shoot at with a 500mm lens and still get a meaningful composition. Click for larger view

The subject distance is 5.62 meters. Aperture is f6.3 so DoF is around 4.4 centimeters.

Now let’s change photographic hats and imagine we are a sports photographer and we are spending a Saturday afternoon photographing a bunch of over-paid 6 foot tall gits chasing a ball around a field, using the very same camera and lens:

HUPor 900x608 Autofocus Drill down

He’s not over-paid or chasing a ball, but this is the CLOSEST distance we can shoot at with this orientation and still get a “not too tight” composition of a 6 foot git! “Shep’s” not a git really – well, not much! Click to enlarge

The distance for this shot is 29.9 meters. Aperture is f6.3 so DoF is around 1.34 meters.

HULs 900x602 Autofocus Drill down

And here we are at the CLOSEST distance for this horizontal camera orientation – still not too tight. Click to enlarge.

The distance here is 50.1 meters. Aperture is f6.3 so DoF is around 3.79 meters.

So with this new “sports shooter” hat on, have we got an easier job than the cold, wet squirrel photographer?

You bet your sweet life we have!

The “Shepster” can basically jump around and move about like an idiot on acid and stay in sharp focus because:

  1. the depth of field at those distances is large.
  2. more importantly, the autofocus has VERY little work to do along the lens axis, because 1 or 2 meters of subject movement closer to the camera requires very small movements of the lens focus mechanicals.

But the poor wildlife photographer with his cute squirrel has so much more of a hard time getting good sharp shots because:

  1. he/she has got little or no depth of field
  2. small subject movements along the lens axis require very large and very fast        movement of the lens focus mechanicals.

So the next time you watch a video by Canon or Nikon demonstrating the effectiveness of their new AF system on some new camera body or other; or you go trawling the internet looking for what AF settings the pros use, just bear in mind that “one mans fruit may be another mans poison” just because he/she photographs bigger subjects at longer average distances”.

Equipment choice and its manner of deployment and use is just not a level playing field is it…but it’s something a lot of folk don’t realise or think about.

And how many folk would ever consider that a desired “in camera” image composition has such a massive set of implications for autofocus performance – not many – but if you put your brain in gear it’s blindingly obvious.

Please consider supporting this blog.

This blog really does need your support. All the information I put on these pages I do freely, but it does involve costs in both time and money.

If you find this post useful and informative please could you help by making a small donation – it would really help me out a lot – whatever you can afford would be gratefully received.

Your donation will help offset the costs of running this blog and so help me to bring you lots more useful and informative content.

Many thanks in advance.


Black Ink Type

Black ink type and black ink switching when moving from matte to luster and gloss papers – here’s my thoughts on this, initially triggered by Franks’ reply to my previous article HERE.

And I quote:

Another great and instructive article Andy. I have the r3000 but get slightly annoyed with the black ink changes from one to the other. Some further guidance on the use of these re paper ‘types’ would be appreciated by moi ~ please ♡

Look, he’s even put a heart in there – bless you Frank, that’s more than I’ve got out of ‘her indoors’ for years!

Now the basic school of thought over this switching of black ink type is this:

  • PK, or Photo Black ink type supposedly produces a smooth, highly glossy black.
  • MK or Matte Black ink type produces a dull, flat black.
  • Using a matte finish paper requires the MATTE black ink type.
  • Using Luster or Gloss paper requires the Photo black ink type.

The PK black ink type really only produces a HIGH GLOSS finish when chucked onto HIGH GLOSS media.  Its’ got a rather less glossy and more ‘egg shell’ finish when used on a more luster finish paper. There does come a “tipping point” though where it will look a little shinier than the finish of the paper – and it’s this tipping point where theory, clever-dicks and user-guides tell you there’s a need to switch to the matte black ink type.

The Matte black ink type does exactly what point two says it does.

The third point – replace the word “requires” with the phrase “can cope with” and we’d be about right.

The forth point is absolutely true; get this wrong by printing with the MK black ink type on high gloss paper and you’ll just waste consumables and potentially end up with the type of clean up operation normally the preserve of Exon & BP. Dot gain on steroids!

There’s also an argument that the MK black ink type produces a deeper black on matte finish paper than the PK black ink type – this is also true:

4800 PermMus MKvsPK 900x692 Black Ink Type

Permajet canned profiles for Museum paper on the Epson 4800 printer using PK and MK black ink types.

As we can clearly see, the Matte black ink type does indeed accommodate a deeper black point than its counterpart Photo black ink type.

Adopting the Common Sense Approach

There are a few things we need to think about here, and the first one is my constant mantra that the choice of paper is governed by the “overall look, feel and atmosphere of the finished image” when it’s sitting there on your monitor.

Paper choice IS the final part of the creative process; for all the reasons I’ve mentioned in past blog posts.

You will also know by now that in my world there is little room for high gloss paper – it’s a total pain the bum because of its highly reflective surface; but that same surface can allow you to print the very finest of details.

But here’s common sense point number 1 – the majority of people reading this blog, attending my workshops and coming to me for 1to1 tuition CAN NOT produce images with detail fine enough to warrant this single benefit of high gloss paper.

That’s not because they’re daft or rubbish at processing either – it’s simply due to the fact that they shoot 35mm format dSLR, not £30K medium format.  The sensors we commonly use can’t record enough ultra fine detail.  There’s a really good comparison between the Nikon D800 and an IQ160 here, it’s well worth having a look – then you’ll see what I’m on about.

The point I’m trying to make is this; print on gloss from 35mm if you like; but you are saddling yourself with its problems but not truthfully getting any of the benefit – but you can kid yourself if you like!

I Lust After Luster Papers But How Lusty Is That Luster?

As I mentioned in the previous post, Calumet Brilliant Museum Satin Matte Natural is NOT a matte finish paper.

True matte papers never really hold much appeal for me if I’m honest, because they are very dull, flat and relatively lifeless.  Yes, a 12×12 inch monochromatic image might look stunning, especially hanging in an area where reflections might prove difficult for any other print surface.

But that same image printed 8 foot square might well “kill’ any room you hang it in, just because it’s so dull and so damned BIG.

True matte papers do have their uses that’s for sure, but in the main you need to discriminate between matte and what I call matte “effect”.

Permajet Fine Art Museum 310, Matte Plus and Portrait 300 are papers that spring to mind as falling into this matte effect category – and wouldn’t you know it, there are canned profiles for these papers for both PK and MK black ink type ink sets, as you can see from the image earlier in the post.

So, with regard to black ink type switching you have to ask yourself:

  • Am I using a paper the ACTUALLY NEEDS the MK black ink type?  Chances are you’re probably not!
  • If I am, do I really want to – how big a print am I doing?

In my own print portfolio I only have two images that benefit from being printed on a “dead” media surface, and they are both printed to Permajet Museum using the PK black ink type.

I had another one that looked “nearly there” but the heavy texture of the paper detracted from the image, so it was re-proofed and printed to Matt Plus, again using PK ink. It looked just the same from a colour/luminance stand point, but worse from a ‘style’ point because of the zero texture.

Along comes Calumet Museum Satin Matte Natural!

The subtle texture gets me where I wanted to be on that score, and that ever-so-soft luster just makes the colours come to life that tiny bit more, giving me a print variation that I love and hadn’t even envisaged at the time I did the original print.

Ink Type Switching

I have to say at the outset that I do NOT own an R3000 printer – I use wide format Epson printers and so have no commercial need for the 3000 DT format.  But I always advise people looking for a printer to buy one – it’s a stunning machine that punches well above it’s weight based on price point.

My Epson wide format does not hold both black ink types.  Switching entails a rather tedious and highly wasteful process; which I have neither desire or need to embark upon.

But if you have any brand of printer that carries both types on board then I’d highly recommend you to set the black ink type to PK, and turn any auto-switching OFF – that is, set switching to manual.

Right, now the super-pessimist in me shines through!

I’m not a fan of Epson papers on the whole, and there’s a lot more choice and far better quality available from third party suppliers ranging from Photospeed to Hahnemuhle, Canson, Red River and all points in between.

Now third party suppliers in the main will tell you to use one black ink type or the other – or either, and give you the correct media settings (Brilliant – are you reading this??).

But, if you have auto switching enabled, and use Epson paper, the print head sees the paper surface and automatically switches the ink to the ‘supposed’ correct type.  This switching process requires the printer to purge the black ink line and refill it with the ‘correct’ black ink type before printing commences.

Now these figures are the stats quoted from Epson:

Black ink conversion times:

  • Matte to Photo Black approx. 3 min. 30 sec
  • Photo to Matte Black approx. 2 min. sec

Ink used during conversion:

  • Matte to Photo Black approx. 3 ml
  • Photo to Matte Black approx. 1 ml

Now why the times and volumes aren’t the same in both directions is a bit of a mystery to me and doesn’t make sense.  But what is killer is that the carts are only 26 (25.9)ml and around £24 each, so 6 changes of black ink type is going to burn through as good as £25 of ink – and that’s without doing any bloody printing!!!

When ever I demo this printer at a workshop I never use Epson paper, auto switching is OFF and I never get a head sensor warning to tell me to switch ink even if I load Permajet Museum – the head sensor doesn’t warn me about the fact that I’m using PK ink.

Yes the printer could be up the spout, but using a canned PK profile the resulting print would tend to indicate otherwise.

Or something slightly more dark and sinister might be happening – or rather NOT, because I’m not using OEM paper………...What was that I heard you say?  Good gracious me…you might think that but I couldn’t possibly comment!

One thing to bare in mind is this.  For the most part, the majority of print media will work exceptionally well with the PK black ink type – BUT NOT THE OTHER WAY AROUND – you’ve been warned.  If you want to know how the captain of the Exon Valdez felt and be up to your ass in black stuff then go ahead and give it a try, but don’t send the cleaning bills to me!

I did it once years ago with an HP printer – I can still see matte black ink tide marks on the skirting board in my office……it wasn’t pretty! And it screwed the printer up totally.

Using PK on matte media will only effect the D-max and lower the overall contrast a wee bit; unless it’s a very low key image with vast areas of blackish tones in it then for the most part you’d perhaps struggle to notice it.  Sometimes you might even find that the drop in contrast even works to your advantage.

But don’t forget, you might not be using a matte media at all, even though it visually looks like it and says the word matte in the paper name.  If the paper manufacturer supplies a PK and an MK profile for the same paper then save yourself time and money and use the PK profile to soft-proof to AND to control the printer colour management.

Did that answer your question Frank – FRANK – can you hear me Frank??!!


Please consider supporting this blog.

This blog really does need your support. All the information I put on these pages I do freely, but it does involve costs in both time and money.

If you find this post useful and informative please could you help by making a small donation – it would really help me out a lot – whatever you can afford would be gratefully received.

Your donation will help offset the costs of running this blog and so help me to bring you lots more useful and informative content.

Many thanks in advance.


Brilliant Papers from Calumet

Brilliant Papers from Calumet

My thoughts on two papers from the Calumet Brilliant Papers range.

museum Brilliant Papers from Calumet

Brilliant Museum Printing Papers from Calumet

As I CONSTANTLY demonstrate to individuals and groups during workshops and 1to1 tuition days, printing is so damned easy it’s ridiculous.  Provided you get all your “ducks in a row” – and that’s not the hardest thing in the world to do, considering you’ve only got 3 bloody ducks!

How hard can it be???

Notwithstanding the necessity for an accurate monitor profile (duck number 1), the paper and its profile, or colour space if you like, form the back-bone of both “soft-proof” and the final print that spews forth from your printer – they’re ducks 2 and 3 respectively.

When getting someone on the “straight and narrow path to print righteousness” I always find it best practice to make them stick to one paper until they are super-familiar with the process, and begin to appreciate the fact that paper choice is the final step in the creative process.

I never want to confuse folk with custom profiles either – if I can get them onto a paper that comes supplied with a reliable OEM profile which includes the relevant MEDIA SETTINGS for the printer (these are crucial) then my work is done.

One paper with a very accurate OEM profile that has media settings as part of the profile name is Permajet Oyster 271.  A cracking paper for general purpose printing, it’s finish suits most images, and it’s still my go-to paper for prints of general wildlife and natural history subjects.

But it doesn’t suit everything, and landscapes, seascapes, and other styles of fine art imagery are the sorts of images that spring to mind.  It’s paper-white is a little on the cool side for starters – so printing a warm tone image to it increases your soft-proof workload for starters.

So I’m always trying different papers so that I can recommend them to my clients,  but no matter how good I find them, I’ll rarely recommend them if the supplied OEM profile is crap.  With the profiling gear I use I could get a workable custom profile for toilet paper if I had to, but telling someone new to printing that they need to:

  • Spend £1500 on the gear
  • Learn how to use what looks like the most scary software GUI on the planet
  • Waste 1 or 2 sheets of paper and ink printing the test charts (it’s not a waste really but that’s how they’d see it).

isn’t a real option.

But now I’m in love with two papers from Calumet and their Brilliant Papers Museum range.  They are:

  • Brilliant Papers Museum Satin Matte Natural
  • 1 Brilliant Papers from Calumet

    Brilliant Papers Museum Inkjet Paper – Satin Matte Natural

  • Brilliant Papers Museum Silver Gloss Natural
  • 2 Brilliant Papers from Calumet

    Brilliant Papers Museum Inkjet Paper – SilverGloss Natural


Both these papers, in my opinion, are up there with the very best of them.  And, while they cost – size for size – twice as much as something like Permajet Oyster; they are both far more than twice as beneficial to the easy production of fine art landscapes and other images that require a bit more from the printer paper to add the final touch.

I’ve used both papers on the Epson R3000 with the Epson ink set, and on my Epson 4800 that carries a Lyson ink set, and all I can say is that I’m more than impressed, and have no trouble in recommending you give them a go.

On the Epson R3000 I used the “canned profiles” downloadable from Brilliant Papers website HERE  but you need to understand that Brilliant have not exactly been sensible here and have omitted to give you any indication of correct media settings.

I’ve actually been using media settings of WCRW (water colour radiant white) for the Satin Matte Natural on the R3000 and TFAP (textured fine art paper) on the 4800.

For the Silver Gloss Natural the media settings for both printers have been UPPPL (ultra premium photo paper lustre) and results have been superb.

Just in case you don’t understand why media settings need to be set correctly, different papers require, amongst other things, different inking levels from the print head – too much ink and the print will look dark, too little and it’ll look pale and washed out.  There is also the little matter of what’s called “dot gain”.  Some papers have a hard glossy surface, others a more rough and porous one. A nozzle droplet of a particular size might be fine on a gloss paper, but that same size droplet on a fine art rag paper might well ‘bleed’ and spread out like it was on blotting paper.  This bleeding, or dot gain, leads to a reduction in sharpness of fine detail.

So, media settings are important – they ain’t there for the hell of it you know!

The “canned” profiles plot for the Epson R3000 using MK ink for Satin Matte Natural and PK ink for the Silver Gloss Natural (sRGB included for comparison):

Epson R3000 900x800 Brilliant Papers from Calumet

Click to enlarge

And for the 4800:

Epson 4800 900x800 Brilliant Papers from Calumet

Click to enlarge

I swapped the plot colours around by mistake – my bad!

I always used to like the look of images printed on Permajets Fine Art Museum 310, but 90% of the time I felt the texture somehow visually ‘got in the way’.

The texture of Brilliant Papers Museum Satin Matte Natural is not quite so pronounced which means I like it better!

In practical terms the colour space of the paper, though ever so slightly smaller than the Permajet Museum paper, does give you slightly deeper blacks and that tiny bit of extra shadow detail clarity.  All in all, a very good go-to paper, especially for the more monochromatic image such as:

D4R3875 Edit Edit 599x900 Brilliant Papers from Calumet

“The Portal”

The Brilliant Papers Silver Gloss Natural.  I find it difficult to actually describe the finish as “gloss” – it’s more like a very fine grained lustre to be honest.

And the difference between the two papers?  Well, the Silver Gloss just has that little extra contrast in the medium and darker midtones – it’s a bit like adding 8 or 10 points of clarity to an image inside of the Lightroom Dev module.  I’d definitely consider this a great paper for landscape and fine art imagery that contains just that little bit more in terms of colour variation and saturation:

D4R0016 Edit 21 607x900 Brilliant Papers from Calumet

“Stepping Stones to Oblivion”

All in all two very nice papers from the Brilliant Papers range that will be seeing regular use both in my own work, and in my workshops and tuition days; though not exactly budget-priced papers they’re no where near as pricey as some – plus, don’t you think your images are worth it?

And just in case you were wondering; I too was quite surprised at just how well matched the Brilliant canned profiles for the 4800 worked out on my Lyson ink set! I’ve written custom profiles for both of these papers, and there is generally so little difference between the custom and Brilliant profiles (which are really intended for the Epson ink set) that I can’t tell the difference between the prints I’ve done so far – and I’ve done a few!

Though for my own printing I’ll always use my custom icc profiles.


Please consider supporting this blog.

This blog really does need your support. All the information I put on these pages I do freely, but it does involve costs in both time and money.

If you find this post useful and informative please could you help by making a small donation – it would really help me out a lot – whatever you can afford would be gratefully received.

Your donation will help offset the costs of running this blog and so help me to bring you lots more useful and informative content.

Many thanks in advance.


Pixel Resolution – part 2

More on Pixel Resolution

In my previous post on pixel resolution  I mentioned that it had some serious ramifications for print.

The major one is PHYSICAL or LINEAR image dimension.

In that previous post I said:

  • Pixel dimension divided by pixel resolution = linear dimension

Now, as we saw in the previous post, linear dimension has zero effect on ‘digital display’ image size – here’s those two snake jpegs again:

300ppi Pixel Resolution   part 2

European Adder – 900 x 599 pixels with a pixel resolution of 300PPI

72ppi Pixel Resolution   part 2

European Adder – 900 x 599 pixels with a pixel resolution of 72PPI

Digital display size is driven by pixel dimensionNOT linear dimension or pixel resolution.

Print on the other hand is directly driven by image linear dimension – the physical length and width of our image in inches, centimeters or millimeters.

Now I teach this ‘stuff’ all the time at my Calumet workshops and I know it’s hard for some folk to get their heads around print size and printer output, but it really is simple and straightforward if you just think about it logically for minute.

Let’s get away from snakes and consider this image of a cute Red Squirrel:

D4R6113 Edit240 900x598 Pixel Resolution   part 2

Red Squirrel with Bushy Tail – what a cutey!
Shot with Nikon D4 – full frame render.

Yeah yeah – he’s a bit big in the frame for my taste but it’s a seller so boo-hoo – what do I know ! !

Shot on a Nikon D4 – the relevance of which is this:

  • The D4 has a sensor with a linear dimension of 36 x 24 millimeters, but more importantly a photosite dimension of 4928 x 3280. (this is the effective imaging area – total photosite area is 4992 x 3292 according to DXO Labs).

Importing this image into Lightroom, ACR, Bridge, CapOne Pro etc will take that photosite dimension as a pixel dimension.

They also attach the default standard pixel resolution of 300 PPI to the image.

So now the image has a set of physical or linear dimensions:

  • 4928/300  x  3280/300 inches  or  16.43″ x 10.93″


  • 417.24 x 277.71 mm for those of you with a metric inclination!

So how big CAN we print this image?


Pixel Resolution & Image Physical Dimension

Let’s get back to that sensor for a moment and ask ourselves a question:

  • “Does a sensor contain pixels, and can it have a PPI resolution attached to it?
  • Well, the strict answer would be No and No not really.

But because the photosite dimensions end up being ‘converted’ to pixel dimensions then let’s just for a moment pretend that it can.

The ‘effective’ PPI value for the D4 sensor could be easily derived from its long edge ‘pixel’ count of the FX frame divided by the linear length which is just shy of 36mm or 1.4″ – 3520 PPI or thereabouts.

So, if we take this all literally our camera captures and stores a file that has linear dimensions of  1.4″ x 0.9″, pixel dimensions of  4928 x 3280 and a pixel resolution of 3520 PPI.

Import this file into Lightroom for instance, and that pixel resolution is reduced to 300 PPI.  It’s this very act that renders the image on our monitor at a size we can work with.  Otherwise we’d be working on postage stamps!

And what has that pixel resolution done to the linear image dimensions?  Well it’s basically ‘magnified’ the image – but by how much?


Magnification & Image Size

Magnification factors are an important part of digital imaging and image reproduction, so you need to understand something – magnification factors are always calculated on the diagonal.

So we need to identify the diagonals of both our sensor, and our 300 PPI image before we can go any further.

Here is a table of typical sensor diagonals:

COCX3fh 900x640 Pixel Resolution   part 2

Table of Sensor Diagonals for Digital Cameras.

And here is a table of metric print media sizes:

PaperSizeX 900x311 Pixel Resolution   part 2

Metric Paper Sizes including diagonals.

To get back to our 300 PPI image derived from our D4 sensor,  Pythagoras tells us that our 16.43″ x 10.93″ image has a diagonal of 19.73″ – or 501.14mm

So with a sensor diagonal of 43.2mm we arrive at a magnification factor of around 11.6x for our 300 PPI native image as displayed on our monitor.

This means that EVERYTHING on the sensor – photosites/pixels, dust bunnies, logs, lumps of coal, circles of confusion, Airy Discs – the lot – are magnified by that factor.

Just to add variety, a D800/800E produces native 300 PPI images at 24.53″ x 16.37″ – a magnification factor of 17.3x over the sensor size.

So you can now begin to see why pixel resolution is so important when we print.


How To Blow Up A Squirrel !

Let’s get back to ‘his cuteness’ and open him up in Photoshop:

PR1 900x597 Pixel Resolution   part 2

Our Squirrel at his native 300 PPI open in Photoshop.

See how I keep you on your toes – I’ve switched to millimeters now!

The image is 417 x 277 mm – in other words it’s basically A3.

What happens if we hit print using A3 paper?

D4R6113 Edit240A3paper 900x636 Pixel Resolution   part 2

Red Squirrel with Bushy Tail. D4 file at 300 PPI printed to A3 media.

Whoops – that’s not good at all because there is no margin.  We need workable margins for print handling and for mounting in cut mattes for framing.

Do not print borderless – it’s tacky, messy and it screws your printer up!

What happens if we move up a full A size and print A2:

300A2 900x646 Pixel Resolution   part 2

Red Squirrel D4 300 PPI printed on A2

Now that’s just over kill.

But let’s open him back up in Photoshop and take a look at that image size dialogue again:

PR1 900x597 Pixel Resolution   part 2

Our Squirrel at his native 300 PPI open in Photoshop.

If we remove the check mark from the resample section of the image size dialogue box (circled red) and make one simple change:

PR2 900x596 Pixel Resolution   part 2

Our Squirrel at a reduced pixel resolution of 240 PPI open in Photoshop.

All we need to do is to change the pixel resolution figure from 300 PPI to 240 PPI and click OK.

We make NO apparent change to the image on the monitor display because we haven’t changed any physical dimension and we haven’t resampled the image.

All we have done is tell the print pipeline that every 240 pixels of this image must occupy 1 liner inch of paper – instead of 300 pixels per linear inch of paper.

Let’s have a look at the final outcome:

240A2 900x647 Pixel Resolution   part 2

Red Squirrel D4 240 PPI printed on A2.

Perfick… as Pop Larkin would say!

Now we have workable margins to the print for both handling and mounting purposes.

But here’s the big thing – printed at 2880+ DPI printer output resolution you would see no difference in visual print quality.  Indeed, 240 PPI was the Adobe Lightroom, ACR default pixel resolution until fairly recently.

So there we go, how big can you print?? – Bigger than you might think!

And it’s all down to pixel resolution – learn to understand it and you’ll find a lot of  the “murky stuff” in photography suddenly becomes very simple!


Help Me to Help You!

If you’ve found this or any other article on this blog useful or informative then please do me a favour and leave a comment – and don’t forget to click the “Follow” button – it’s free and you’ll get notified of my next blog post.

Please consider supporting this blog.

This blog really does need your support. All the information I put on these pages I do freely, but it does involve costs in both time and money.

If you find this post useful and informative please could you help by making a small donation – it would really help me out a lot – whatever you can afford would be gratefully received.

Your donation will help offset the costs of running this blog and so help me to bring you lots more useful and informative content.

Many thanks in advance.


Lightroom Tutorials #2


Eagle 600x400 Lightroom Tutorials #2

Image Processing in Lightroom & Photoshop


In this Lightroom tutorial preview I take a close look at the newly evolved Clone/Heal tool and dust spot removal in Lightroom 5.

This newly improved tool is simple to use and highly effective – a vast improvement over the great tool that it was already in Lightroom 4.


Lightroom Tutorials  Sample Video Link below: Video will open in a new window


This 4 disc Lightroom Tutorials DVD set is available from my website at

How White is Paper White?

What is Paper White?


We should all know by now that, in RGB terms, BLACK is 0,0,0 and that WHITE is 255,255,255 when expressed in 8 bit colour values.


White can also be 32,768: 32,768: 32,768 when viewed in Photoshop as part of a 16 bit image (though those values are actually 15 bit – yet another story!).


Either way, WHITE is WHITE; or is it?



WIP00034947 Edit How White is Paper White?

Arctic Fox in Deep Snow ©Andy Astbury/Wildlife in Pixels


Take this Arctic Fox image – is anything actually white?  No, far from it! The brightest area of snow is around 238,238,238 which is neutral, but it’s not white but a very light grey.  And we won’t even discuss the “whiteness” of  the fox itself.


DSC6545 600x312 How White is Paper White?

Hen Pheasant in Snow ©Andy Astbury/Wildlife in Pixels


The Hen Pheasant above was shot very late on a winters afternoon when the sun was at a very low angle directly behind me – the colour temperature has gone through the roof and everything has taken on a very warm glow which adds to the atmosphere of the image.


WIP00052572 3 4 5 Edit 2 Edit 600x600 How White is Paper White?

Extremes of colour temperature – Snow Drift at Sunset ©Andy Astbury/Wildlife in Pixels


We can take the ‘snow at sunset’ idea even further, where the suns rays strike the snow it lights up pink, but the shadows go a deep rich aquamarine blue – what we might call a ‘crossed curves’ scenario, where shadow and lower mid tones are at a low Kelvin temperature, and upper mid tones and highlights are at a much higher Kelvin.


All three of these images might look a little bit ‘too much’ – but try clicking one and viewing it on a darker background without the distractions of the rest of the page – GO ON, TRY IT.


Showing you these three images has a couple of purposes:

Firstly, to show you that “TRUE WHITE” is something you will rarely, if ever, photograph.

Secondly, viewing the same image in a different environment changes the eyes perception of the image.


The secondary purpose is the most important – and it’s all to do with perception; and to put it bluntly, the pack of lies that your eyes and brain lead you to believe is the truth.


Only Mother Nature, wildlife and cameras tell the truth!



So Where’s All This Going Andy, and What’s it got to do with Paper White?


Fair question, but bare with me!


If we go to the camera shop and peruse a selection of printer papers or unprinted paper samplers, our eyes tell us that we are looking at blank sheets of white paper;  but ARE WE ?


Each individual sheet of paper appears to be white, but we see very subtle differences which we put down to paper finish.


But if we put a selection of, say Permajet papers together and compare them with ‘true RGB white’ we see the truth of the matter:


paper whites3 600x600 How White is Paper White?

Paper whites of a few Permajet papers in comparison to RGB white – all colour values are 8bit.


Holy Mary Mother of God!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


I’ll bet that’s come as a bit of a shocker………


No paper is WHITE; some papers are “warm”; and some are “cool”.


So, if we have a “warmish” toned image it’s going to be a lot easier to “soft proof” that image to a “warm paper” than a cool one – with the result of greater colour reproduction accuracy.


If we were to try and print a “cool” image on to “warm paper” then we’ve got to shift the whole colour balance of the image, in other words warm it up in order for the final print to be perceived as neutral – don’t forget, that sheet of paper looked neutral to you when you stuck it in the printer!


Well, that’s simple enough you might think, but you’d be very, very wrong…


We see colour on a print because the inks allow use to see the paper white through them, but only up to a point.  As colours and tones become darker on our print we see less “paper white” and more reflected colour from the ink surface.


If we shift the colour balance of the entire image – in this case warm it up – we shift the highlight areas so they match the paper white; but we also shift the shadows and darker tones.  These darker areas hide paper white so the colour shift in those areas is most definitely NOT desirable because we want them to be as perceptually neutral as the highlights.


What we need to do in truth is to somehow warm up the higher tonal values while at the same time keep the lowest tonal values the same, and then somehow match all the tones in between the shadows and highlights to the paper.

This is part of the process called SOFT PROOFING – but the job would be a lot easier if we chose to print on a paper whose “paper white” matched the overall image a little more closely.


The Other Kick in the Teeth


Not only are we battling the hue of paper white, or tint if you like, but we also have to take into account the luminance values of the paper – in other words just how “bright” it is.


Those RGB values of paper whites across a spread of Permajet papers – here they are again to save you scrolling back:


paper whites3 600x600 How White is Paper White?

Paper whites of a few Permajet papers in comparrison to RGB white – all colour values are 8bit.


not only tell us that there is a tint to the paper due to the three colour channel values being unequal, but they also tell us the brightest value we can “print” – in other words not lay any ink down!


Take Oyster for example; a cracking all-round general printer paper that has a very large colour gamut and is excellent value for money – Permajet deserve a medal for this paper in my opinion because it’s economical and epic!


Its paper white is on average 240 Red, 245 Green ,244 Blue.  If we have any detail in areas of our image that are above 240, 240, 240 then part of that detail will be lost in the print because the red channel minimum density (d-min) tops out at 240; so anything that is 241 red or higher will just not be printed and will show as 240 Red in the paper white.


Again, this is a problem mitigated in the soft proofing process.


But it’s also one of the reasons why the majority of photographers are disappointed with their prints – they look good on screen because they are being displayed with a tonal range of 0 to 255, but printed they just look dull, flat and generally awful.


Just another reason for adopting a Colour Managed Work Flow!



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