In the past few episodes of “The Lightroom Show” we’ve talked about using the Brightness slider in the Print module so you can still use a nice, bright contrasty monitor, and adjust just the file that is sent to your printer (or an online lab for printing) without messing with your original image’s settings, so the print still looks good (we explain this on the episodes). I’ve seen some questions, here and on social media, about how to actually set up a printed proof (for some reason, many Lightroom users really fight the idea of making a printing proof and using it to compare to their display). Well, for those who don’t fight it, and want to stop guessing when it comes to print brightness — this is for you.
Now, before I dive into this, just so you know there are lots of different ways to do proof prints, this is just one of them. What this does do is let you visually test the brightness slider at different settings, so with making just one proof print you’ll know which one most closely matches your screen.

Find an image you want to use as your proof. Go to the Print Module, and over in the Template Panel on the left side check on the Maximize Size template (as shown here). Scroll to the top of the right side panels; click on “Zoom to Fill” to get your image as large as possible (well, without messing with the page margins), then go to the Print Job panel (bottom of the right side panels) and under “Print to” at the top of the panel, choose JPEG file (as seen here), and  then click on “Print to File” and save this image as a JPEG, and name it “1-Original” (that way, it appears in the first position – this will make more sense in a few moments).

Go to the Print Adjustment section of the Print Job panel, and increase the Brightness slider to +20 (as seen here). Now click the Print to File button again, but this time name the file 20% Brightness. After it saves, bump it up to 40%, save the file again and name it “40% Brightness” and do this process again, one more time at +60 (name is 60% brightness).

Once you’ve saved all four as JPEGs, go to the Library module and import all four files. Now, in the Print Template panel, click on the 2×2 Cells template, and select all four photos you just imported, then scroll up to the top on the right side panels and turn on the “Zoom to Fill” checkbox to give you the layout you see here.

Now, over on the right side panels, turn on the “Photo Info” checkbox and choose “Filename” as the info you want to display under the pictures. Now you can see the names of each JPEG which tell you how much Brightness amount was applied to each of them. Save this image by clicking “Print to File” (if you’re sending your image to an outside lab, like — my favorite), or if you’re printing to your own in-house printer, change the ‘Print to’ setting to Printer and enter in your color management settings. Either way, what you wind up with is a test print. Once you have the print in your hand, hold it right up next to your monitor and figure out which of these looks the most like your monitor (for me, and my in-house printer, it’s usually 20 to 25%, depending on the paper, and 40 to 50% if I’m printing on Canvas. Bu that’s for my printer, and my paper, and my screen. Want to know what the right amount of Brightness that works you for, and your monitor and the printer or lab you use? Then make a test print and in just a few seconds, once and for all, you’ll know.
Hope that helps.
Hey, don’t forget — if you’re out here in Vegas today, stop by and catch my Portrait Retouching Secrets class at the KelbyOne Theater at 10:45 am, and then my Photo Recipes class on Canon’s Main Stage at 2:45 pm today and 10:45am tomorrow.
Here’s wishing you an awesome Monday!

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