How To Soft Proof in Lightroom for the Best Colors
When you edit in Lightroom, you are in a very large color space called ProPhoto RGB. In simple terms, you get a very large color space which gives you the most flexibility and colors to choose from while editing. On the surface this sounds like a great option for photographers. And it is for the most part… But, if you print on certain papers, or at professional photo labs that only support a smaller color space, it can cause problems. Additionally, when you export for the web, which is sRGB color space, you convert to a smaller color space. This means certain colors will not display properly.
What You Can Do
When Lightroom 4 came out, Adobe introduced “Soft Proofing.” When you soft proof a photo, it allows you to see the colors that will be out of gamut when you export for printing or the web. You can choose a paper type or even sRGB. The out of gamut areas will glow red once you set this up properly.
Check off “Soft Proofing”
Pick your intended output – by paper type or color space, etc.
Click on either the mini computer icon (monitor gamut warning) and/or paper icon (output gamut warning). Usually you will want the paper icon. You will get a blue overlay for the monitor view and a red overlay for the output overlay. This helps you see what “may” be a problem in your photo when exporting for a specific color space or print type.
One Way Adobe Recommends to Soft Proof
Julieanne Kost , an Adobe Evangelist and expert in all things Lightroom, has a detailed video on the topic. She describes how to set up and alter your image based on soft proofing results. Overall this video is extremely helpful and a great educational tool. She explains how to correct areas outside the color space using the HSL panel. You can also use our Enlighten Lightroom Presets via the desaturate and exposure brushes or color tweaks section.
One word of caution: If you get rid of all out of gamut warnings using the methods in the video, you may be left with dull images. Try them and decide for yourself.
To me, the video above is a great learning tool. While it helps you understand what is out of gamut, I have found that if I export to sRGB, I rarely lose all the information shown on gamut warning. The gamut warnings Lightroom displays appear too strong. I tend to watch the histogram and make decisions based on that, when soft proofing, rather than actually using the warnings. For the most part, I am happy when I export, even if I was warned that some areas would be outside the acceptable range. My advice to you is experiment with both methods. If you have an opinion, we’d love to hear from you in the comments below.