I use a color-managed workflow to process my photos. The camera is set to Adobe RGB (though since I shoot RAW it doesn’t really matter), and mostly for historical reasons, so is Digital Photo Professional (which I still use for the RAW conversion process). For any further editing, I keep the same color space. The monitor is calibrated, so I’m confident that what I’m seeing is accurate enough for most purposes. Once I’m done with an image, I export a JPEG at full resolution and the highest quality available, keeping the working color space – I consider this the ‘master print’ if you will, and would use this for print jobs. The images you see on the web are obtained from these masters with a script which scales them down, adds a border and image details, and removes all metadata except the copyright. To avoid problems with non-color-managed viewers, it also converts the image to an sRGB profile. Now this process works great with the digital images I mostly work with. When it came to editing the B&W negative scans I figured: why change something that works? So the only difference introduced was simply that the source images were now grayscale, and I opted for a 15% dot gain profile. I thought that would be the end of it, and everything else could remain the same.
However, while working on the Lidwell Copse photo, I observed a problem when I looked at the web export: it was too dark. Since this particular image has large areas of very dark greys, the problem was particularly noticeable. When I saw this I checked my earlier exports and noticed that sure enough the same problem was there too. It turns out that the JPEG export I was using for the ‘master print’ was (incorrectly) ignoring the source profile, so I was losing all color management information. I wonder why, as JPEG supports grayscale without issues. In any case, the simplest workaround was to convert the image to color (using my usual Adobe RGB space) and export to JPEG from there. When I was done with the Lidwell Copse post, I took some time to reprocess my earlier B&W exports in the same way (many of which I still need to write about). You can see here the reprocessed versions of the images of St Martha’s. Compare with the originals here and here and see what you think.
As always, you can click on the image for a larger version; comments welcome.