What is "soft proofing" and "proofing"?

CanonFanBoy

EOS 5D MK IV
Jan 28, 2015
3,114
684
Irving, Texas
Unfortunately, my Lightroom/Photoshop skills are very lacking. I notice the "proof" and "softproof" options in Lightroom. What the heck is that? My normal workflow is like this:

  1. Import photos from my CF card to Lightroom.
  2. Find a photo I like.
  3. Adjust things like exposure, shadows, highlights etc.
  4. If I'm happy with that, and there are several photos in the same light, I create a preset so that all those photos can all have the same look.
  5. One at a time, I export my edited photos to photoshop where I edit out blemishes, crop and then size them and save them to a folder on my desktop.
That's about all I do. I wish I had the editing skills some of you have.

So what is "proofing" used for?
 

Pookie

Don't forget to gargle private...
Nov 29, 2014
962
145
Santa Cruz, California
www.flickr.com
Proofing in the classic since is when your client comes to look and select images, you then do final edits and provide finals.

Soft-proofing is Lr attempt at trying to make the photo looks as if its printed so you can see what an image looks like when printed.
 
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Don Haines

Beware of cats with laser eyes!
Jun 4, 2012
7,877
1,207
Canada
I have ignored soft proofing. My shots end up in reports that may be printed on a variety of printers or viewed on a variety of monitors ranging from laptop displays to 8K monitors. I have zero control over the output device and they are so different that if I optimize for one, I make it worse for others.
 
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privatebydesign

Would you take advice from a cartoons stuffed toy?
Jan 29, 2011
7,379
376
119
Thanks guys! So I can ignore proofing. Any printing I have done has been through MPIX.
Many commercial printers, including Mpix (https://www.mpixpro.com/help/help.aspx?id=21), will provide you with profiles for their printers in which case you can use them to soft proof your images before you send them in for printing. The reason I mention this is because if you are interested in important color shades or specific tonal values, particularly in shadow areas, then soft proofing is essential to actually get closer to WYSIWYG. Of course this is only relevant if you care and you profile your screen and follow a color managed workflow.

Soft proofing, and then hard proofing, are virtually essential steps if you take your B&W prints seriously as tonal values are key to most B&W photography.
 
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CanonFanBoy

EOS 5D MK IV
Jan 28, 2015
3,114
684
Irving, Texas
Many commercial printers, including Mpix (https://www.mpixpro.com/help/help.aspx?id=21), will provide you with profiles for their printers in which case you can use them to soft proof your images before you send them in for printing. The reason I mention this is because if you are interested in important color shades or specific tonal values, particularly in shadow areas, then soft proofing is essential to actually get closer to WYSIWYG. Of course this is only relevant if you care and you profile your screen and follow a color managed workflow.

Soft proofing, and then hard proofing, are virtually essential steps if you take your B&W prints seriously as tonal values are key to most B&W photography.
Ahhhh.... I'll have to really look into that. By profiling the screen, do you mean with something like Spyder?
 

privatebydesign

Would you take advice from a cartoons stuffed toy?
Jan 29, 2011
7,379
376
119
Ahhhh.... I'll have to really look into that. By profiling the screen, do you mean with something like Spyder?
Yes, a Spyder or Munki or something like it. I noticed X-Rite came out with a new 'consumer' model recently at the lower end of the price spectrum.

Color management can be a bit of a mind warp and I am the first to say if you are happy with your prints currently then it isn't worth the time or money to dig deeper into it, but if you aren't happy with the prints you are getting it often isn't the fault of the outside printer!
 

LDS

EOS 6D MK II
Sep 14, 2012
1,490
106
Soft-proofing is Lr attempt
Soft proofing is common beyond Lightroom as well - properly used it can save time and money reducing the number of physical proofs needed. You can perform soft-proofing in Photoshop (View > Proof Setup) and many other tools. Some may have even more advanced features than LR, some not useful in photography (i.e. proofing for color blindness).

Lightroom makes managing the proofs simple because each proof can be stored inside LR as a virtual copy and "tagged" with the target profile for later reuse. Anyway it's a feature useful when controlling the output process - especially printing. It is possible to proof for monitors/projectors as well, but it's probably something only done for high-end exhibitions, when display characteristics are well known.
 

CanonFanBoy

EOS 5D MK IV
Jan 28, 2015
3,114
684
Irving, Texas
Soft proofing is common beyond Lightroom as well - properly used it can save time and money reducing the number of physical proofs needed. You can perform soft-proofing in Photoshop (View > Proof Setup) and many other tools. Some may have even more advanced features than LR, some not useful in photography (i.e. proofing for color blindness).

Lightroom makes managing the proofs simple because each proof can be stored inside LR as a virtual copy and "tagged" with the target profile for later reuse. Anyway it's a feature useful when controlling the output process - especially printing. It is possible to proof for monitors/projectors as well, but it's probably something only done for high-end exhibitions, when display characteristics are well known.
I really should take a class or two. Got a free year of KelbyOne when I bought my 5D Mark III... never signed on. :(