Please select a question below:
- What sets us apart from other print labs?
- What photo papers are available? What are their specs?
- Proofing your print:
- What file format should I upload for printing?
- Should I resize and sharpen my image before sending it to you?
- How should I prepare a file for upload?
- Can I avoid cropping, and print by aspect ratio instead?
- How do I get a print that matches what I see on my display?
- Can I get a good print without using an ICC profile?
- Do I have to convert an image to its respective ICC profile before sending it to you?
- How do I download and install ICC profiles?
- How do I get started with ICC color management?
What sets us apart from other print labs?
- Bradley Photographic Print Services is a photo lab for photographers by a photographer
- We have the highest standards in quality control
- We “get” color management and can teach you color management
- We have quick turn around times and can ship, or drop ship, anywhere
- We use the best papers available in the industry today
What photo papers are available? What are their specs?
Bradley Photographic currently stocks five different fine art papers (see the image to the right). Beyond our normal stock, if you have a specific paper you want to work with, let us know. Contact Jason Bradley directly to get more info on our paper selection or to inquire about expanding it.
Proofing your print:
Whether or not you are managing color yourself, Bradley Photographic can send you photographic proofs to ensure you get the best final print possible. We make proofs at five inches for your image’s shortest side and they are $3.00 per image. Just send us your hi-res file and we’ll do the rest.
What file format should I upload for printing?
Acceptable file types: We can accept DNG or any raw format, TIFF, JPEG, PSD, but here are our preferences:
Lightroom and Photoshop Users:
If you are an Adobe software user, we prefer receiving a DNG file, but any raw format will do. We just want to make sure we can see your developments if you have in fact developed the image. If you send me an NEF, CR2, or other raw format different from DNG, make sure we receive your .XMP sidecar file along with your image file. .XMP files contain all the metadata, or instructions, on what changes you made to the file in Lightroom or Photoshop’s Adobe Camera Raw (ACR). We will NOT be able to see your developments without the .XMP file. Furthermore, if you are sending us a DNG, then the .XMP is not necessary because developmental metadata is embedded inside the DNG.
If you are NOT an Adobe Software user:
If you do not use Adobe software or do not want to send us a raw file, we can print any image file format such as TIFF, JPEG, or PSD. But your results will likely be better with an uncompressed file format such as TIFF or PSD.
Should I resize and sharpen my image before sending it to you?
Resizing is not necessary, and if you are sending us a raw file, resizing isn’t possible let alone necessary. We have sophisticated algorithms to enlarge or reduce a file upon printing. If you are not sending a raw file, then we’ll leave that decision to you. Some photographers want to control that step themselves, and others don’t, but we can easily do that final step for you.
There are two phases of sharpening in the digital photographers workflow. There is input and output sharpening. If you are developing your files, then we suggest applying any input sharpening as needed to the file. Input sharpening is a term to describe sharpening a file at its native size before exporting, enlarging, or reducing the file. If you are performing the enlargement or reduction phase of the process, then an output sharpening would likely be needed as edge sharpness changes when a file size is altered. Of course, output sharpening is not necessary if Bradley Photographic is changing the file size to match the print for you.
How should I prepare a file for upload?
Below are our preferences for preparing your file for print. Please call us if you have any questions. We’re here to help!
- You do not need to rename your file. Your file name is fine.
- We prefer you send us a DNG or other raw file if you are develop with Lightroom or Photoshop’s Adobe Camera Raw (ACR), which allows us to both see your edits and make any last minute, minor tweaks to your image, to ensure we are producing the highest quality print possible. **If you are an Aperture user and export the file as a DNG, we will not be able to see your edits. Apple and Adobe use two different languages.**
- If we are developing your file for you, Any raw file format will do.
- If a raw file is not available, send us the native format that the file was captured in.
- If you are developing your file in Photoshop or other non-Adobe program, we prefer an uncompressed format like TIFF or PSD, with PSD being our choice of the two. There is no quality difference, but PSD’s are smaller and thus easier to transfer.
- All files, when possible, should be sent to us as a 16-bit file. 8-bits are the only option with JPEG files.
- You do not need to convert your file to an ICC profile before sending your file to us. We will convert the file before printing automatically. ICC profiles will be of little use to you unless you require to soft proof your images before sending them to us. However, we will also automatically correct any colors that are found to be out of gamut. Basically… trust us, we know what we are doing, and this won’t hurt a bit.
- If you are resizing the image yourself, choose the appropriate width and height and convert the resolution or pixels per inch (PPI) to 360.
How can I avoid cropping and print by aspect ratio instead?
The print industry suffers from the hotdog-and-the-bun problem—nothing seems to fit quite right. If you have a 35mm format film or digital camera, making an 8×10 crops your image. On the other hand, if you want to make an 8×12 and make a print without cropping, paper manufacturers sell 8.5×11 paper sizes, not 8×12. Ugh!
To resolve this confusion, here is our ‘Print By Aspect Ratio’ chart to help you choose the right size print for your camera’s aspect ratio, without needing to crop it. We also have a set of standard US frame sizes for you to reference on the chart. Custom sizes are also available on our Print Services form.
How do I get a print that matches what I see on my display?
All the cameras on the market today, all of the computer monitors, portable tablets, printers, printer inks, and photo papers render tones differently. Some can reproduce a lot of tonality while others are limited. Some can reproduce a range of colors that other devices or media cannot, and some devices use one language to communicate color, while other devices use a completely different language. But fret not worried photographer, the ICC has come to the rescue. The ICC, which stands for International Color Consortium, is an organization that was formed in 1993 to attempt to solve this problem by creating a vendor-neutral color management system.
ICC color management is practiced simply by integrating ICC into our workflow. Furthermore, an ICC profile is a color space that characterizes a specific device, like a monitor, printer, or camera and associates that space with a vendor-neutral industry standard. These profiles also define a mapping protocol between the source color space and a profile connection space. For those of you that just read a bunch of gibberish, I suggest to think of it another way: different devices in our workflow chain speak different languages. ICC profiles act as the translator so each device can understand each other, and so we can manage colors in our images when moving them from device to device.
Can I get a good print without using an ICC profile?
Yes, but you would be lucky to, and creating consistency with color from image to image and from print to print would be challenging at best. You’ll need to use ICC profiles in your workflow to create consistency.
Alternatively, if ICC profiles are just one more thing to learn that you don’t want to learn, then don’t. Bradley Photographic Print Services can manage it for you. We can develop your raw files to make them look their best, whether they are color or black and white. When done, we can send you a sample for approval. There are two options: we can send you a soft proof—a low res digital file—for you to analyze on your calibrated computer monitor, or we can send you a hard proof—a five inch physical print—for you to analyze. Obviously, hard proofing an image is the recommended option.
Do I have to convert an image to its respective ICC profile before sending it to you?
No. Even if you are soft proofing your images in Lightroom or Photoshop, it’s not required. We make sure all images are converted to their proper color profile before printing. Please refer to “Can I get a good print without using an ICC profile,” for information on alternatives to using ICC profiles.
How do I download and install ICC profiles?
It’s simple. On the main Print Services page, in the right-hand column, look for the ICC Profiles section. Click on the link that matches the paper of your choice and follow your computers operating system’s (OS) instructions on where to save the file.
To install the ICC profiles is also easy. It’s just a matter of placing the file in the proper folder. Lightroom, Photoshop, Aperture or whatever image processor you are using will automatically find it. No other action should be needed. Below is a set of directions for where to place your ICC profiles depending on what OS you use.
- For Mac OS X place profiles in Library > ColorSync > Profiles folder for all users or Library > ColorSync > Profiles in your home directory.
- For Windows Vista or 7, go to Windows’ Control Panel > Color management > All Profiles > Add
- For Windows 2000, the correct location is C: > WINNT > System32 > spool > drivers > color
- For Windows XP or later C: > WINDOWS > System32 > spool > drivers > color.
How do I get started with ICC color management?
If you are interested in taking control of your color management, the first obstacle is to not get lost in the terminology. To start, let’s distinguish the difference between color models, gamuts, spaces, and profiles.
All visible color can be derived from a set of primary colors. In the world of photography and graphic design, primary colors are thought of in terms of additive color or subtractive color. The RGB model (red, green, blue) is an additive color model because to achieve white, RGB must be added together. Of course this capability is only possible when using devices that illuminate or project light. In contrast, to achieve white on a piece of printer paper, all color must be absent or subtracted from the page. This is the CMY (cyan, magenta, yellow) color model.
A color gamut is the same as a range of color or a field of color. For example, to the right is a typical CRT monitor gamut. The colored triangle represents all the possible colors on such a monitor, and can’t show reds, greens, or blues beyond its gamut. In fact, all devices in your workflow have a specific gamut or range of possible colors it can reproduce. Furthermore, the CIE diagram the colored triangle sits in is itself is a gamut that represents color that our eyes and brains are able to perceive. Sure there are color frequencies outside the walls of this diagram, we just can’t see them.
Color models can be mixed together in endless ways. So, how is true red, green or blue defined? Color spaces are a way of defining color numerically and can be either inside or outside of a given gamut. Adobe RGB, sRGB, and ProPhoto are commonly used color spaces for photographers.
Defining what a color profile is begins to get a little tricky because profiles are essentially color spaces. But what makes a profile a profile is that it’s being applied to something. For example, Adobe RGB and sRGB are color spaces, but if I embed that space into an image, that space is then the images color profile. Our computers and programs need to reference a color profile in order to define color and tonality in some way as we work with our photos.
An ICC profile is a color space that characterizes a specific device, like a monitor, printer, or camera and associates that space with a vendor-neutral industry standard. These profiles further define a mapping protocol between the source color space and a profile connection space. This process allows for efficient communication and translation of color when moving from device to device in a given workflow—that is if ICC profiles are used all along the workflow chain.
Hardware for ICC color management:
In order to get started with ICC color management, you will need to purchase some hardware I’m afraid. It is possible to fall too far down this rabbit hole, so to speak. There is hardware to calibrate and generate custom profiles for everything. You can calibrate your camera, computer monitor, printer, printer paper, and more. The good news is, to get your foot in the door for this process, you need only a decent monitor and a colorimeter, or monitor calibrator.
When choosing a monitor, I suggest to go for broke. A good high-quality monitor that is properly calibrated will give you consistent high quality reproductive results. Eizo, NEC, and LaCie all have monitors that cover a wide color gamut, most or all of the Adobe RGB color space, and are designed for photographers and graphic artists. Apple, Sony, HP and a few others also make decent monitors.
There are many decent monitor calibrators on the market today as well. We use an i1 Display Pro by X-Rite. Their Color Munki Display is also great and a bit less in price. I also like Datacolor’s Spyder 4, which can also calibrate your iPad if you like. Whichever you choose, this hardware represents the basics, and the basics can take you a long way. Of course more tools are available if your workflow is more demanding.
Tips for monitor calibration:
- Calibrate once per month
- Use a room with consistent ambient light that’s moderately lit and has no direct sunlight hitting your monitor.
- Use your monitor calibrator to measure the room’s ambient light when creating your profile.
- For LCD monitors, use the “native” white point, gamma 2.2 and 80-100 cd/m2
- After calibrating your monitor, which might look weird to you at first because you’re seeing color in a new way, use the same monitor calibrator to verify your calibration so you know you have created a good profile.