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Learn Photography

Lightroom > Print Module >

7 - Soft Proofing

Long Story, Short

Monitors glow.

Photography paper, doesn't.


Soft proofing.

Long Story

A photograph of a scene displayed on your monitor may not look as good as the scene when you were standing in front of the scene.

Similarly, prints often don't look as good as the photograph does on a monitor.

Monitors can't display many scenes accurately.

Printer inks and paper can't reproduce a photograph as well as a monitor displays it.

There are two reasons.

Reason #1 - Brightness Range

Let's say you're looking out your window.

Your visual system can see:

• The bright clouds.

• The person waiting for a bus in the shade.

This wide range of brightness, that you can see out your window, can't be displayed on:

• Your monitor.

• A print.

The clouds will be too bright, and the person, too dark.

The monitor has a smaller range of brightness than your visual system.

Photography papers have an even smaller brightness range than monitors.

The scene before your eyes won't always "fit" on your monitor—and even less so—on photography paper.

Reason #2 - Color

This reason isn't as noticeable as the brightness-range problem.

You can see, out your window, many more colors than what your monitor can display.

If you photograph out your window, your monitor can't display all of the colors.

If you make a print, even fewer colors are reproducible on the paper.

For example, the crimson-red geranium you see on your window sill may not be the same crimson red:

• On your monitor.

• On a print.

Camera Solutions

There are things you can do with your camera to mitigate the brightness-range problem.

Go to Light Contrast.

The solutions below are for prints.

Solution for the

Brightness Range Problem

If you're editing a print on a monitor, make the monitor look like photography paper.

This solves the brightness-range problem.

Do the following.

1) Go the Develop module.

2) Select Soft Proofing in the tool bar below the work area.


Soft Proofing

Two Changes

There are two changes.

Change #1

The background in the work area will change from gray to white.


Gray Background


White Background

Change #2

The Histogram panel changes to the Soft Proofing panel.


Histogram Panel


Soft Proofing Panel

Make Selections in the Soft Proofing Panel

(Formerly Called the Histogram Panel)

3) In the Soft Proofing panel, open the Profile menu.

Change the profile from the color space, sRGB, to the profile of your photography paper.

If you're not sure which profile to use, select a profile for:

• Your printer brand.

• Brand of paper you use.

• Matte or glossy surface.


Profile Menu

By default, usually, Lightroom selects Simulate Paper & Ink in the Soft Proofing panel.


Profile Menu

The Simulate Paper & Ink setting simulates the:

• Non-glowing white of photography paper.

• Not-deep black of printer ink.

The setting may not be selectable for certain profiles.

The image you see in the work area is now a good approximation of how it will look as a print.

The brightness range problem is solved.

The soft proofing is simulating the reduced brightness range of photography paper.

Solution for the

Color Problem

Rendering Intent

4) In the Intent area, select either Perceptual or Relative.

Perceptual or Relative are two rendering intents.

They govern how Lightroom deals with colors that the printer ink and paper can't reproduce.

These non-reproducible colors are called out-of-gamut colors.

Use the default choice, Perceptual, at first.


Perceptual shifts out-of-gamut colors into colors that can be printed.

Colors that are already printable may also change.

The relationship between the colors remains, but the colors may change.


Relative (aka Relative Colorimetric) prints the out-of-gamut colors as the closest in-gamut color.

Colors that are already printable don't change.

Let's say your photograph has two colors:

• Cerise 1

• Cerise 2

Cerise 1 can be printed.

It's an in-gamut color.

Cerise 2 is an out-of-gamut color.

It can't be printed.

Lightroom will change the Cerise 2 into Cerise 1.

Relative preserves more of the original colors.

Seeing In-gamut & Out-of-gamut Colors

You can use the triangles in the upper corners of the Soft Proofing panel to see what your monitor and photography can't "see."

Upper-right Corner Triangle

Mouse-over, or click, the triangle in the upper-right corner of the Soft Proofing panel.

Parts of your photograph may turn red.

The red areas are colors that your printer inks and photography paper are unable to print correctly.


Colors in the Red Are Not Printable

Upper-left Corner Triangle

Mouse-over, or click, the triangle in the upper-left corner of the Soft Proofing panel.

Parts of your photograph may turn blue.

Blue areas are colors that your monitor is unable to display correctly.

Pink Areas

Pink areas are colors that:

• Your monitor can't display accurately.

• Your printer inks and paper can't reproduce.

Create Proof Copy

5) Click Create Proof Copy in the Soft Proofing panel.


Create Proof Copy

Lightroom makes a virtual copy of your photograph with the soft-proofing settings.


6) Press y to compare the original to the proof copy.


7) Edit the proof copy.


8) Print the proof copy.

Compare Again

The printed version won't match the proof-copy image on your monitor perfectly.

However, it will be close.

Soft proofing makes for better prints.