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!


Lumenzia for Easy Luminosity Masking

Lumenzia for Easy Luminosity Masking..

I’m a really BIG fan of Luminosity Masking, and the ease by which you can use them to create really powerful adjustments to your image inside Photoshop – adjustments that are IMPOSSIBLE to make in Lightroom.

For a while now I’ve been selling a luminosity mask action set for Photoshop, and up until a week ago I had plans to upgrade said action set to produce even more custom masks.

That is until a good friend of mine, Mr. Omar Jabr, asked me if I’d come across this new product, LUMENZIA, that made the production and deployment of luminosity masks and their derivatives EVEN EASIER.

intro 900x624 Lumenzia for Easy Luminosity Masking

An original RAW file open in Lightroom (right) together with the final image (left) – 99% of the “heavy lifting” being done in Photoshop using the Lumenzia Extension and it’s luminosity masking functions.

In all honesty I am so excited about this amazing software extension that I’ve abandoned all plans to further develop my own action set for Photoshop – to do so would be a truly pointless exercise.

There is so much more to Lumenzia than the production of the standard 4 or 5 Darks,Lights and Midtone luminosity masks that mine and other available action sets produce.

To get an idea of just how powerful Lumenzia is just click HERE to visit the applications home page – and just buy it while you are there; purchase is a “no brainer” and one of those digital imaging JDI’s (just do it)!

The inclusion of a luminosity masking function based on the Zone System gives you instant recourse to masks based on Ansel Adams 11 zone system of scene brightness – a classic approach to the quantification of subject brightness range created by arguably the greatest landscape photographer the world has ever known – IMHO of course.

AAZone Lumenzia for Easy Luminosity Masking

In order to instal Lumenzia you will need to install the correct Photoshop Extension Manager for which ever version of Photoshop you are running – CS6, CC, or CC2014 (it is not intended to be installed on CS5 or lower).

1. Buy Lumenzia

2. Follow the download link, and download the .Zip folder.

3. Extract the folder contents.

4. Locate the “com.lumenzia.zxp” file in the extracted contents, right click and choose Open with: Adobe Extension Manager v.xx

You should see:

a Lumenzia for Easy Luminosity Masking

Click Install, and you should see:

b Lumenzia for Easy Luminosity Masking

If you are running Mac OS 10.10x Yosemite you may have a slight problem with the CC2014 Extension Manager not being able to find the application pathway to Ps CC2014.  If you get a message from the Extension Manager waffling on about needing Photoshop v11 or higher don’t stress, the fix is a little brutal but really simple:

Go Applications>Utilities>Adobe Installers and UNINSTALL (that’s right!) BOTH Photoshop CC2014 and Extension Manager CC2014, then log back in to your CC account, go to the Apps tab and re-install Photoshop CC2014 AND Extension Manager CC2014 sequentially – that will cure the problem and only take about 5 or 6 minutes.

Open a RAW file in CameraRAW, or better still Lightroom. Get your camera calibration and contrast under control as I’ve banged on about so many times before, negate any chromatic aberration and do a bit of effective noise reduction if needed, then send the image to Photoshop:

3 900x563 Lumenzia for Easy Luminosity Masking

Go Window>Extensions>Lumenzia

Go Window>Extensions>Lumenzia and the Lumenzia interface will appear – I like to drag it into the right hand tools palette so it’s not encroaching on the work area.

The first thing that amazed me about Lumenzia is the fact that you can create luminosity masks without creating 12 or 15 separate Alpha channels with the image – this makes a HUGE difference to the file size of the image, not just from the disc space PoV but it can also have file handling speed benefits in terms of tile rendering speed and scratch disc usage – if you don’t understand that just think of it as a GOOD thing!

For example:

5 900x560 Lumenzia for Easy Luminosity Masking

The final adjusted image (prior to a couple of tweaks in Lightroom) on the left is 271Mb including all layers being intact; the image on the right, though not yet processed, has been prepared for processing by running a luminosity mask action set and developing a stack of Alpha channels; it is now over 458Mb:

6 900x562 Lumenzia for Easy Luminosity Masking

…just because of the Alpha channels. And we have also got 50 steps of History that have to be retained by Photoshop; as you’ve now realised, the joke is that it’s double the size of the Lumenzia processed image and we haven’t begun to start making any adjustments yet!

There is lot’s more to Lumenzia, such as surface sharpening and easy dodge and burn layer creation – it’s going to take me a week to digest it all.

Prior to working with Lumenzia my one question was “how good are the masks” – well they are pixel-perfect.

Creating pixel-perfect luminosity masks is the most tedious of jobs if you do it the maual way – so much so that most folk take one look at the process and go “No thanks…..”

Photographers like myself couldn’t really help alleviate the tedium until the advent of CS6 which gave us the ability to write an ACTION that involved the operation of a PREVIOUSLY recorded action – so the luminosity mask action set was born.

But the developer of Lumenzia has topped it all by the proverbial country mile and given us a totally unique way of making the tedious and complex very easy and simple.

Once you have made your purchase you’d do well to go and watch the developer videos that are available online; you will get links to the training and support pages in your purchase receipt.

And to top it all off we can even generate Alpha channels and selections if we want or need to, and we can mask on the basis of Vibrancy and Saturation; yet another processing wheeze known by few, and used by fewer still.

The developer has given me permission to demonstrate and teach the deployment of Lumenzia, and to promote it as an affiliate.  I’ve been offered affiliate-ships before but have rejected them in the past because basically what was being peddled was either crap or too expensive; or BOTH.

But whatever you think the opinion of yours truly is worth, I can honestly say that Lumenzia is most definitely NEITHER of the above – it’s that good I’ll never use anything else ever again, and at under 40 bucks you’re going to make one hell of a difference to your images with so little effort it’s unreal.

Click HERE to buy and download

LUMENZIA – BUY IT – go on, get on with it!

lum Lumenzia for Easy Luminosity Masking

Lumenzia GUI for Photoshop CC2014


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.


Colormunki Photo Update

Colormunki Photo Update – for OSX Yosemite

Both my MacPro and non-retina iMac used to be on Mountain Lion, or OSX 10.8, and nope, I never updated to Mavericks as I’d heard so many horror stories, and I basically couldn’t be bothered – hey, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it!

But, I wanted to install CapOne Pro on the iMac for the live-view capabilities – studio product shot lighting training being the biggest draw on that score.

So I downloaded the 60 day free trial, and whadyaknow, I can’t install it on anything lower than OSX 10.9!

Bummer thinks I – and I upgrade the iMac to OSX 10.10 – YOSEMITE.

Now I was quite impressed with the upgrade and I had no problems in the aftermath of the Yosemite installation; so after a week or so muggins here decided to do the very same upgrade to his late 2009 Mac Pro.

OHHHHHHH DEARY ME – what a pigs ear of a move that turned out to be!

Needless to say, I ended up making a Yosemite boot installer and setting up on a fresh HDD.  After re-installing all the necessary software like Lightroom and Photoshop, iShowU HD Pro and all the other crap I use, the final task arrived of sorting colour management out and profiling the monitors.

So off we trundle to X-Rite and download the Colormunki Photo software – v1.2.1.  I then proceeded to profile the 2 monitors I have attached to the Mac Pro.

Once the colour measurement stage got underway I started to think that it was all looking a little different and perhaps a bit more comprehensive than it did before.  Anyway, once the magic had been done and the profile saved I realised that I had no way of checking the new profile against the old one – t’was on the old hard drive!

So I go to the iMac and bring up the Colormunki software version number – 1.1.1 – so I tell the software to check for updates – “non available” came the reply.

Screen Shot 2014 12 05 at 13.50.17 646x900 Colormunki Photo Update

Colormunki software downloads

Screen Shot 2014 12 05 at 13.51.09 809x900 Colormunki Photo Update

Colormunki v1.2.1 for Yosemite

So I download 1.2.1, remove the 1.1.1 software and restart the iMac as per X-Rites instructions, and then install said 1.2.1 software.

Once installation was finished I profiled the iMac and found something quite remarkable!

Check out the screen grab below:

Screen Shot 2014 12 05 at 14.07.23 900x472 Colormunki Photo Update

iMac screen profile comparisons. You need to click this to open full size in a new tab.

On the left is a profile comparison done in the ColourThink 2-D grapher, and on the right one done in the iMacs own ColourSynch Utility.

In the left image the RED gamut projection is the new Colormunki v1.2.1 profile. This also corresponds to the white mesh grid in the Colour Synch image.

Now the smaller WHITE gamut projection was produced with an i1Pro 2 using the maximum number of calibration colours; this corresponds to the coloured projection in the Coloursynch window image.

The GREEN gamut projection is the supplied iMac system monitor profile – which is slightly “pants” due to its obvious smaller size.

What’s astonished me is that the Colormunki Photo with the new software v1.2.1 has produced a larger gamut for the display than the i1 Pro 2 did under Mountain Lion OSX 10.8

I’ve only done a couple of test prints via softproofing in Lightroom, but so far the new monitor profile has led to a small improvement in screen-to-print matching of the some subtle yellow-green and green-blue mixes, aswell as those yellowish browns which I often found tricky to match when printing from the iMac.

So, my advice is this, if you own a Colormunki Photo and have upgraded your iMac to Yosemite CHECK your X-Rite software version number. Checking for updates doesn’t always work, and the new 1.2.1 Mac version is well worth the trouble to install.

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.


Paper White – Desktop Printing 101

Paper White video

A while back I posted an article called How White is Paper White

As a follow-up to my last post on the basic properties of printing paper media I thought I’d post this video to refresh the idea of “white”.

In this video we basically look at a range of 10 Permajet papers and simply compare their tints and brightness – it’s an illustration I give at my print workshops which never fails to amaze all the attendees.

I know I keep ‘banging on’ about this but you must understand:

  • Very few paper whites are even close to being neutral.
  • No paper is WHITE in terms of luminosity – RGB 255 in 8 bit colour terms.
  • No paper can hold a true black – RGB 0 in 8 bit colour terms.

In real-world terms ALL printing paper is a TINTED GREY – some cool, some warm.

D4R8269 Edit 21 1024x674 Paper White   Desktop Printing 101

If we attempted to print the image above on a cool tinted paper then we would REDUCE or even CANCEL OUT the warm tonal effects and general ‘atmosphere’ of the image.

Conversely, print it to a warmer tinted ‘paper white’ and the atmosphere would be enhanced.

Would this enhancement be a good thing?  Well, er NO – not if we were happy with our original ‘on screen’ processing.

You need to look upon ‘paper white’ as another TOOL to help you achieve your goal of great looking photographs, with a minimum of fuss and effort on your part.

We have to ‘soft proof’ our images if we want to get a print off the printer that matches what we see on our monitor.

But we can’t soft proof until we have made a decision about what paper we are going to soft-proof to.

Choosing a paper who’s characteristics match our finished ‘on screen’ image in terms of TINT especially, will make the job of soft proofing much easier.

How, why?

Proper soft proofing requires us to make a copy of our original image (there’s most peoples first mistake – not making a copy) and then making adjustments to said copy, in a soft proof environment, so that it it renders correctly on the print – in other words it matches our original processed image.

Printing from Photoshop requires a hard copy, printing from Lightroom is different – it relies on VIRTUAL copies.

Either way, this copy and its proof adjustments are what get sent to the printer along what we call the PRINT PIPELINE.

The print pipeline has to do a lot of work:

  • It has to transpose our adjusted/soft proofed image colour values from additive RGB to print CMYK
  • It has to up sample or interpolate the image dpi instructions to the print head, depending on print output size.
  • It has to apply the correct droplet size instructions to each nozzle in the print head hundreds of times per second.
  • And it has to do a lot of other ‘stuff’ besides!!

The key component is the Printer Driver – and printer drivers are basically CRAP at carrying out all but the simplest of instructions.

In other words they don’t like hard work.

Printing to a paper white that matches our image:

  • Warm image to warm tint paper white
  • Cool image to cool paper white

will reduce to the amount of adjustments we have to make under soft proofing and therefore REDUCE the printer driver workload.

The less work the print driver has to do, the lower is the risk of things  ‘getting lost in translation‘ and if nothing gets lost then the print matches the on screen image – assuming of course that your eyes haven’t let you down at the soft proofing stage!

cool 600x387 Paper White   Desktop Printing 101

IMPORTANT – Click Image to Enlarge in new window

If we try to print this squirrel on the left to Permajet Gloss 271 (warmish image to very cool tint paper white) we can see what will happen.

We have got to make a couple of tweaks in terms on luminosity BUT we’ve also got to make a global change to the overall colour temperature of the image – this will most likely present us with a need for further  opposing colour channel adjustments between light and dark tones.


Warm 600x387 Paper White   Desktop Printing 101

IMPORTANT – Click Image to Enlarge in new window

Whereas the same image sent to Permajet Fibre Base Gloss Warmtone all we’ll have to do is tweak the luminosity up a tiny bit and saturation down a couple of points and basically we’ll be sorted.

So less work, and less work means less room for error in our hardware drivers; this leads to more efficient printing and reduced print production costs.

And reduced cost leads to a happy photographer!

Printing images is EASY –  as long as you get all your ducks in a row – and you’ve only got a handful of ducks to control.

Understanding print media and grasping the implications of paper white is one of those ducks………

This video is an extract from a Lightroom printing tutorial title I’m working on for release later in the year.

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.


Desktop Printing 101

Understanding Desktop Printing – part 1


print1 Desktop Printing 101Desktop printing is what all photographers should be doing.

Holding a finished print of your epic image is the final part of the photographic process, and should be enjoyed by everyone who owns a camera and loves their photography.

But desktop printing has a “bad rap” amongst the general hobby photography community – a process full of cost, danger, confusion and disappointment.

Yet there is no need for it to be this way.

Desktop printing is not a black art full of ‘ju-ju men’ and bear-traps  – indeed it’s exactly the opposite.

But if you refuse to take on board a few simple basics then you’ll be swinging in the wind and burning money for ever.

Now I’ve already spoken at length on the importance of monitor calibration & monitor profiling on this blog HERE and HERE so we’ll take that as a given.

But in this post I want to look at the basic material we use for printing – paper media.

Print Media

A while back I wrote a piece entitled “How White is Paper White” – it might be worth you looking at this if you’ve not already done so.

Over the course of most of my blog posts you’ll have noticed a recurring undertone of contrast needs controlling.

Contrast is all about the relationship between blacks and whites in our images, and the tonal separation between them.

This is where we, as digital photographers, can begin to run into problems.

We work on our images via a calibrated monitor, normally calibrated to a gamma of 2.2 and a D65 white point.  Modern monitors can readily display true black and true white (Lab 0 to Lab 100/RGB 0 to 255 in 8 bit terms).

Our big problem lies in the fact that you can print NEITHER of these luminosity values in any of the printer channels – the paper just will not allow it.

A papers ability to reproduce white is obviously limited to the brightness and background colour tint of the paper itself – there is no such think as ‘white’ paper.

But a papers ability to render ‘black’ is the other vitally important consideration – and it comes as a major shock to a lot of photographers.

Let’s take 3 commonly used Permajet papers as examples:

  • Permajet Gloss 271
  • Permajet Oyster 271
  • Permajet Portrait White 285

The following measurements have been made with a ColorMunki Photo & Colour Picker software.

L* values are the luminosity values in the L*ab colour space where 0 = pure black (0RGB) and 100 = pure white (255RGB)

Gloss paper:

  • Black/Dmax = 4.4 L* or 14,16,15 in 8 bit RGB terms
  • White/Dmin = 94.4 L* or 235,241,241 (paper white)

From these measurements we can see that the deepest black we can reproduce has an average 8bit RGB value of 15 – not zero.

We can also see that “paper white” has a leaning towards cyan due to the higher 241 green & blue RGB values, and this carries over to the blacks which are 6 points deficient in red.

Oyster paper:

  • Black/Dmax = 4.7 L* or 15,17,16 in 8 bit RGB terms
  • White/Dmin = 94.9 L* or 237,242,241 (paper white)

We can see that the Oyster maximum black value is slightly lighter than the Gloss paper (L* values reflect are far better accuracy than 8 bit RGB values).

We can also see that the paper has a slightly brighter white value.

Portrait White Matte paper:

  • Black/Dmax = 25.8 L* or 59,62,61 in 8 bit RGB terms
  • White/Dmin = 97.1 L* or 247,247,244 (paper white)

You can see that paper white is brighter than either Gloss or Oyster.

The paper white is also deficient in blue, but the Dmax black is deficient in red.

It’s quite common to find this skewed cool/warm split between dark tones and light tones when printing, and sometimes it can be the other way around.

And if you don’t think there’s much of a difference between 247,247,244 & 247,247,247 you’d be wrong!

The image below (though exaggerated slightly due to jpeg compression) effectively shows the difference – 247 neutral being at the bottom.

x1 Desktop Printing 101

247,247,244 (top) and 247,247,247 (below) – slightly exaggerated by jpeg compression.

See how much ‘warmer’ the top of the square is?

But the real shocker is the black or Dmax value:

Matte sRGB 900x723 Desktop Printing 101

Portrait White matte finish paper plotted against wireframe sRGB on L*ab axes.

The wireframe above is the sRGB colour space plotted on the L*ab axes; the shaded volume is the profile for Portrait White.  The sRGB profile has a maximum black density of 0RGB and so reaches the bottom of vertical L axis.

However, that 25.8 L* value of the matte finish paper has a huge ‘gap’ underneath it.

The higher the black L* value the larger is the gap.

What does this gap mean for our desktop printing output?

It’s simple – any tones in our image that are DARKER, or have a lower L* value than the Dmax of the destination media will be crushed into “paper black” – so any shadow detail will be lost.

Equally the same can be said for gaps at the top of the L* axis where “paper white” or Dmin is lower than the L* value of the brightest tones in our image – they too will get homogenized into the all-encompassing paper white!

Imagine we’ve just processed an image that makes maximum use of our monitors display gamut in terms of luminosity – it looks magnificent, and will no doubt look equally as such for any form of electronic/digital distribution.

But if we send this image straight to a printer it’ll look really disappointing, if only for the reasons mentioned above – because basically the image will NOT fit on the paper in terms of contrast and tonal distribution, let alone colour fidelity.
It’s at this point where everyone gives up the idea of desktop printing:

  • It looks like crap
  • It’s a waste of time
  • I don’t know what’s happened.
  • I don’t understand what’s gone wrong

Well, in response to the latter, now you do!

But do we have to worry about all this tech stuff ?

No, we don’t have to WORRY about it – that’s what a colour managed work flow & soft proofing is for.

But it never hurts to UNDERSTAND things, otherwise you just end up in a “monkey see monkey do” situation.

And that’s as dangerous as it can get – change just one thing and you’re in trouble!

But if you can ‘get the point’ of this post then believe me you are well on your way to understanding desktop printing and the simple processes we need to go through to ensure accurate and realistic prints every time we hit the PRINT button.

print2 Desktop Printing 101

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.