Shadow detail in printed photo

After many years in black and white film photography (developed and printed in my own darkroom), I’m entering the digital photography world. RawTherapee helped me create b&w photo which is looking quite well on the monitor, but when I’ve picked up printed photos in the lab (I’ve actually tried 2 of them), I was slightly disappointed. Ok, the second lab was able to make black color more-or-less really black, but all the details in shadows are lost. There is just large black spot.

Should I try another labs, till I’ll find the right one? Is such behavior “normal” and I should make shadow details more “contrasty”?

Generally prints can look darker than the photo appears on screen.

Make sure you edit with a white background so that shadow detail is drowned out by ambient light the way it is on a print.


Thank you for the hint. Photo is looking much closer to the printed version when viewed with white background on the pc.

@maaca hi,
If you’re new to digital image processing then I suggest that you should first learn little about color management. For the purpose of the digital photography you need a dedicated monitor and your working environment shall be properly lit.
Then if this is set up and fixed the next step is to choose the lab which offers ICC profiles for soft proofing. None of my local lab offers that and there are some online which keeps their process under color managed routine. Far more better than lab is fine art printing service based on dye.

If you’re devoted to B&W you may be interested in Piezography but that would be rather extreme.

I assume that by term lab you mean service where you get popular 10x15cm photos.

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Hi @maf
thank you for the intro to the digital image processing. In the first step, I’m trying to get somehow my photos to the paper (using local services which are generating 13x18 photos). When I’ll be sure who will print my photos, I’ll sync my process with that service somehow.

I’ve found one (not really local) service which has piezography-compatible minilab device. I’ll try to call them for datails. Thanks for pinting on it.