Getting the most from your local print shop

Chris Dodkin

West Coast Correspondent
It's a challenge to get the image as you see it on the screen, output to print looking exactly the same.

It is possible though - you need to take a few simple steps.

1) You can borrow/rent/by a colour spyder device and calibrate your computer screen.

This will allow you to accurately see the colour of your image in your editing software - it makes a huge difference.

2) Use the free service provided by Dry Creek Photo - and download the actual colour profile for the print machine/store you'll be using to do your printing

They have thousands of actual printers profiled - in many countries - each profile is for a specific machine, in a specific store, and often for specific types of paper (Glossy/ Matt etc)

Using this printer profile to do the final colour tweaks to your image, will enable you to get pro prints from commercial machines - such as those at CostCo - for peanuts.

For Example - My local CostCo has a Noritsu pro print machine, worth many hundreds of thousands of Dollars, and capable of the highest quality printing onto Fuji Crystal Papers.

It spends it's day doing holiday snaps! :rolleyes:

By loading it's colour profile into Photoshop (in my case) - tweaking my final image using that profile, then taking it to CostCo and saying - please print on the Noritsu, and switch OFF auto colour correction - I get the prints the way I edited them.

The instructions on the Dry Creek website are easy to follow - and the results are well worth it.
I now get my prints back from the lab exactly as I see them on screen, I too use the Spyder3 elite which has made so much difference, also I embed the ICC profiles from the lab I use for whatever paper I choose my final prints to be on, the lab I use uses the Fuji frontline printers and the lustre finish is one of my favorites, Gone are the days when I receive darker prints than what I was viewing on my screen, now at least I know what I see is what I get, I use DSCL (dscolourlabs)
and with a little help from people in the know like ^^^^ i will be doing that also.........haha
i have the benefit of having worked in my local photo lab for two years while i was at university. Now that i'm working full time, ive still maintained a good relationship with the staff there.

the result is that I know those machines inside out. I know that they are printing 300dpi images using an sRGB profile. if i size and output my images accordingly, I can get some truly fantastic results.

I also know them well enough that we bypass the little machines they force customers to use, and instead I feed my images straight into the lab machine. This means that no additional sharpening, contrast bumping or colour profile changes are made to my images. This ensures me the cleanest possible results.
When you plot the LAB colour spaces out in 2D - you can see how small the sRGB space is, compared to the theoretical full colour gamut.

Adobe RGB is a larger colour space, with a greater range of tones, but is still well short of the CIE theoretical optimum space.

You'll find each printer has it's own plot on this sort of graph - and it's the translation of your colour data to this print profile that is key for accurate perceptual colour conversion.