One of the overlooked new features in Lightroom 4 is the soft proofing ability. This is actually an extremely useful feature for those of us who print our own images. Some of you might be asking “what exactly is soft proofing, and why is it important”. In a nutshell your monitor is capable of showing a greater range of colors compared to your printer. Enabling a soft proof gives you a look at what the image might look like when printed so you have the ability to make adjustments before hitting that print button and wasting paper and ink.
To get to a soft proof first go to the Develop module and click on View –> Soft Proofing –> Show Proof or simply click the S key. You will see this places a white matte around the image and gives you some additional options below the histogram. You can also change the color of this matte by control clicking on the white area to bring up a list of other available colors.
Another change that happens when you click on soft proofing is the Histogram shows you RGB values instead of RGB percents. As you roll over parts of the image you can see exact RGB values, pretty useful!
The first thing you will want to do is to select the output type in the profile list. There will be a few standards already in this list like sRGB and Adobe RGB but you can select the Other option and it will show you any printer profiles you have setup on your computer.
Here is the difference between sRGB and a HP printer I have in the office, a huge shift in color if I were to print this image.
You can start to make any adjustments to the image specifically for print. Before you make an adjustment you will want to click on the Create Proof Copy button below the histogram. This will create a virtual copy of the image so you aren’t making changes to the main file but only making changes to this file for print. You will also be asked if you would like to create a proof copy once you do any change to the image while in this mode.
Another very useful tool is clicking on the Show Destination Gamut Warning button (this is the icon at the very top right of the histogram. This is going to highlight in red anything that is going to be outside of the range of the output you have selected.
From here you can adjust any colors that are out of gamut by using the HSL menu and adjusting the hue or saturation until it will be within the range that your printer and paper selection can handle. Soft proofing is a great addition to Lightroom and will help out anyone printing to save paper and ink by getting the print dialed in right the first time.
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