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Printing from InDesign is dark, how do I fix this; Yes, I am a print dunce

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Bill Church
Printing from InDesign is dark, how do I fix this; Yes, I am a print dunce
on Jun 13, 2013 at 5:30:50 pm

Quick background: I am not a print guy. I'm a videographer for whom photography can, at best, be described as a hobby. Even then any still work I do is for the web and TV, so I pretty much live in the land of RGB. Today I've been asked to assist a coworker in printing a very nice set of poster's she's made up in InDesign; each consisting of a number of photos taken by a very talented photographer we hire out from time to time. I cannot for the life of me get these things to print properly.

We're using an HP Photojet 5000 PS with PostScript 3. The images we're working with in InDesign are all unfortunately JPEGs with an RGB color profile; we do not have access to TIFFs or the RAW files. The photos in the posters look great and properly exposed on a Macbook Pro display. Obviously this is not a reference display, but good enough to tell the prints are way off. When we print them, every photo looks underexposed by a full stop.

Graphics are set to Send Data: All. Output color is Composite CMYK. Printer Profile is Document CMYK. And I've tried letting InDesign and Postscript handle color management. The result was identical both times. We also tried exporting a PDF with the press setting and printing from Acrobat and, again, it looked no different. Too dark.

What am I doing wrong? I'm not naive, I don't expect the final print to look identical to what's on the monitor. I just want what I know are properly exposed photos to look properly exposed when I print them. I've had three failed prints now, two of them foolishly at full size. I would quite like to stop wasting ink and paper.

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