Recently I’ve started to print some Black and White images from my Chernobyl trip, that i made using the Leica M Monochrom (Monochrome camera) on my Epson 3800. But was experiencing really dark prints and having seem many people on forums with the same issue, even though a fully colour managed workflow is adhered to (i.e. camera, screen and printer using custom ICC and vendor ICC profiles) though i would put this post together. Having experimented with different methods (Brightness slider in the Lightroom Print module, or on the Develop module), prints are still too dark when printed. The problem only occurs when printing B&W (either converted in Lightroom/Photoshop) or native B&W images (the Leica M Monochrom sensor has no colour information on the chip) and printed from Lightroom. It turns out that when you engage Espon’s Advanced Black and White mode (also seems to exist on the standard print method as well), the printer will try to use grey scale printing mode (Gamma 2.2). The ProPhoto RGB colour space is Gamma 1.8 and not 2.2 (which is typically used for Greyscale work), therefore Black and White prints will come out to dark (source Luminous Landscape).
Eric Chan, one of the members of the Adobe Camera Raw and Lightroom team responsible for printing has an elegant solution, and it’s available for free and is simple to implement. Eric has written a small program that builds grey curves into ICC profiles. You can read more and get the ICC profiles from here.
The outcome is that the prints when printed this way are stunning, amazing long grey tones and will look once framed behind glass.
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