Prints too dark. PLEASE HELP

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by burstintoflame81, Oct 24, 2009.

  1. burstintoflame81
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    burstintoflame81 New Member

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    I just had prints made at Costco. I downloaded their printer profiles into Photoshop and converted all pics for their printer. My monitor was also calibrated this morning prior to editing these pics. The pictures came out way too dark. Lots of shadows. It was like I opened Curves and really cranked the blacks.

    I then uploaded to Walgreens with no printer profiles and printed the same pictures. Both the Costco and Walgreens set looked exactly the same.

    I know that a lot of people are going to say "don't use crappy Costco or Walgreens" but thats not a helpful solution, so please refrain. I calibrated the monitor and adjusted to the printer, so WHY do my pictures still look like garbage? Shouldn't they atleast look CLOSE to what I was going for?

    EDIT: I should also add that I am using a 23" 1080p LG LCD that is practically brand new up to date model.
  2. burstintoflame81
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    burstintoflame81 New Member

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    Bump
  3. battletone
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    battletone New Member

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    Well I have never downloaded a printer profile from Walmart or Walgreens (never used Costco), and my pictures always come out way to dark too. So I would say its exactly what you said you do not want for a response.
  4. JayCanon
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    JayCanon New Member

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    When I first saw your thread title, the first thought that jumped into my mind was that you needed to calibrate your monitor. I see now that's not the problem.

    What happens when you convert your images in Photoshop using these printer profiles? Do the images look too dark right then on your monitor, or just after the prints are made? If you haven't already, I'd compare the images on another monitor just to see if there's any differences.

    Two different companies aren't necessarily going to produce equal prints. You said you made prints through Costco with the printer profiles, and at Walgreens without the profiles. Technically, if you wanted to pinpoint what effect the printer profile is having on the prints, you'd have to have them made with and without the profile from the same company. But I understand your frustration, since you don't want to have to resort to trial-and-error to get proper prints. You want them right the first time.
    I suppose you could try to compensate by boosting the brightness and highlights of your images before having the prints made, but you shouldn't have to do that since that's going to be a crapshoot, too.

    I know you said you didn't want to hear anything negative about using Walgreens and/or Costco for prints, but there are a few places you can have prints made online that are inexpensive and produce great results. Keep in mind that these web-based print companies specialize in this, and they're more likey to make prints they way they should be made. I don't know how other members here feel about Snapfish, but I have had prints made through them with excellent results. I don't know how their prices compare to other sites, but the prints are still very reasonably priced. These days I do all my prints myself at home, but you might want to consider an online print company. Even if they did charge a litttle more, in the long run you might be better off if you're burning money on bad prints from the retailers you're currently dealing with. It won't hurt to at least look around online and see how the prices compare to whatever it is you're paying now.

    If you get this corrected, let us know. If I can think of any other suggestions, I'll let you know.
    ;)
  5. mrodgers
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    mrodgers New Member

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    Here's how I feel about Snapfish. Also the price is outlined in the following. This was my comment on another forum after sending 3 of the same photos to each MPix, Adorama, and Snapfish. I don't know why it is all centered text now. It wasn't back when I posted it...

    First post where I received my miniature photo books I ordered.

    Later post after my Snapfish prints arrived.

    For the record, I can't say enough about Adorama prints. I won't bother with anywhere else, even including the 50 free prints Snapfish wants to give me to "have me back." They never had me in the first place after the garbage they sent me with my test photos (see links above).
  6. burstintoflame81
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    burstintoflame81 New Member

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    Thanks for the responses guys.

    When I did load the printer profile, it actually made my pics in photoshop seem slightly lighter ( which I was expecting ) It wasn't a huge change though, just very minor. However, the wierd part to me, is the fact that both sets of pictures came out identical. So maybe I screwed up the printer profiles? ( which I guess is possible although I seriously doubt it. ) Also, a possibility is that Costco used the wrong printer. ( they have a fuji and the other one that the profiles are for, but I forget the brand name ). Maybe they printed with the wrong printer which had no effect on the picture, and then also when I sent them to Walgreens with no profile, they printed the same. If this is the case, then it would mean that the problem must lie in my perception ( my LCD and calibration being messed up )

    I have dual outputs on my video card. I may just buy a small CRT monitor for 10 or 15 bucks on craigslist and calibrate that with the my Spyder ( anyone have any advice on doing this? ). Maybe I will be able to edit the pics better that way. Use my 1080p LCD for just the normal personal computing stuff.
  7. burstintoflame81
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    burstintoflame81 New Member

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    Also, in the meantime, maybe I will send off a pic to Mpix, snapfish, and Adorama and see how each of those come back.
  8. PatrickHMS
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    PatrickHMS New Member

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    I can fix that kind of problem in my Picasa3 software.

    I can take a photo that the image on my computer screen looks almost totally black, no visible detail at all, edit it in my Picasa3 (which is free shareware from Google) to lighten it...

    and get a properly lit, perfectly clear image that will produce a nice print.

    And I didn't even have to use any of the expensive software packages. Picasa3 does everythng I have needed to do so far.
  9. burstintoflame81
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    burstintoflame81 New Member

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    The problem isn't that the image doesn't look right on the screen. It is that the prints aren't consistent with what I see on the monitor. I am using Adobe Photoshop CS4. Thanks for the recommendation though.
  10. JayCanon
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    JayCanon New Member

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    First, let me say that promoting Snapfish was not the point of my post. I was merely using them as an example, since they're the only online printer I've dealt with, and only a few times. I was trying to be careful with my words when I mentioned them, only commenting on the results I've had with them while leaving the door open to the possibility that other members here might have a different opinion.

    It is unfortunate that you had a bad experience with them. I am by no means questioning your opinion or the quality of your prints, but I must say that the two times I have ordered prints through them (4x6's both times), the quality was excellent. My prints didn't suffer from pixelization as you mentioned. If there was any flaw, they might have been a bit over saturated (also as you mentioned) but I did boost the saturation a touch before I uploaded them. Speaking of uploads, my files uploaded quickly.

    As I mentioned, I do all my own prints now. I know it's costing me a bit more that way, but I want to be in complete control of the entire process. I don't want to stray off topic here, so Snapfish aside, we can both agree that there are some very good online printers out there. And based on the OP's current results, it seems the quality of his prints have nowhere to go but up.

    EDIT: My post is a bit out of sequence here. I typed it up about 20 minutes before I actually submitted it. I was basically replying to mrodgers.
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2009
  11. musicaleCA
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    musicaleCA New Member

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    It's not a software issue. If the prints are too dark, it's because your monitor is too bright given your viewing conditions. Note that they the need to print at a higher printer brightness whenever you order, and hopefully that'll fix your problem. For example, any time I print documents at Staples, I need to specify that they "print at 95% brightness".
  12. mtfd635
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    mtfd635 New Member

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    You have to 'tell' costco you want a specific printer. That is available on their onsite photo upload order form.
    Otherwise u get wrong printer. Costco near me has two printers, I could only find profile for one. The other comes out about a stop too dark.
    Isuggest trying that, I have been printing at costco for a year, and am very happy with the results
  13. burstintoflame81
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    burstintoflame81 New Member

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    Yeah, they told me when I asked that if you check the box to NOT let them adjust your photos, they use the printer with the profiles automatically. Which is what I did. I just uploaded 5 pics to walgreens with various white balance and brightness/contrast adjustments and the RAW file converted to TIFF. I want to see how they turn out.

    Do you know what %brightness they typically print at, if you request 95% as a change? That could be the problem. I tried turning down brightness on my monitor, but when it gets low enough to be like the pics, its almost un useable as a monitor. Thanks for all of the help guys.
  14. burstintoflame81
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    burstintoflame81 New Member

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    So I just printed like 5 pictures at Walgreens. 1 was a Tiff conversion right out of Camera. The other was with the brightness/contrast panel adjusted to extreme ( Contrast pulled all the way down and brightness cranked all the way up ) I also did one with the colors significantly saturated ( not horribly so, but as high as tolerable ). The other two were minor curves adjustments of white balance. They ALL came back looking nearly identical with all the color washed out. The saturated ones had the biggest difference but only because they got a little darker. Colors were still dull and washed out. I also noticed just now, that even when I upload the pictures, and look at them once they are uploaded to my album, they look like they printed. So why during the upload process, is my pictures turning to garbage?

    CVS seems to have the same deal. Once uploaded they look terrible.

    I also sent my pics over the network to my wifes computer which is a compaq with 20" LCD basic computer with uncalibrated monitor, and it looked identical to what my pics look like on my computer prior to uploading them. So I am beginning to think that it has nothing to do with my monitor and settings. Is it possible for the upload to degrade the picture? At this point I am thinking that I am never going to be able to get prints made. Like I said, even with the brightness/contrast heavily tweaked, it got me little change at all.:grumpy:

    EDIT: I was just trying to find calibration images online, and found this on Flickr. Is it some kind of gag? I cannot see a gray dot at all and tweaked all controls in the monitor and still got nothing. Can anyone else see it or recommend something to view online to test my monitor?
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2009
  15. burstintoflame81
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    burstintoflame81 New Member

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    I am just going to keep this updated incase someone else has a similar problem. Even if noone has an answer or advice, this may help someone else in the future.

    UPDATE: I just went to Walmart and bought a new color ink cartridge for my HP photosmart printer. I usually only use this printer for documents so I was empty on the color side. Anyway, without even profiling the printer, I printed the same saturated picture that I printed at Walgreens with a HUGE difference. All of the dark areas were not muddled. The colors were not dead on in terms of brightness ( but pretty close ). Considering that I didn't profile the printer either, that atleast shows me that the problem lies with the crap print services. GEEZ, why couldn't someone have just said "costo and walgreens sucks, don't use them " and saved me some time :) just kidding. I still would like to figure out WHY they are messing up though. I am going to order some from Adorama and see how they turn out.

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