Losing "pop" when increasing print from letter size to 11x17/Workflow suggestions

I am in the process of making a portfolio of my landscape photos to give to my children. I picked 20 of my favorites and spent a lot of time on each one re editing, soft-proofing, and making multiple letter sized prints until I get one that seems perfect to me. I am using LR and Photoshop and printing on an Epson P900 using Moab Entrada Natural, a relatively smooth matte paper. I made my first jump up in size today from a letter sized print to a 9x13 (on 11x17 paper) and I see some obvious changes in contrast, saturation and brightness. It’s as if I clicked Soft Proof again and the “pop” of the photo diminished slightly. Much subtler than jumping from a monitor photo to a soft proofed matte finish, but there nonetheless. So I am back to square one with the photo, which will need new changes in whites, blacks, contrast, etc. to retain the look of the letter sized print. However this time I am printing on larger paper and the ink use and cost of paper will add up since I am a perfectionist and will undoubtedly have to make several tries to get the larger prints look the way I want. Any workflow suggestions to keep the cost down and avoid making 2-4 large prints to get it right? Or is this just the way it is making quality larger prints? Thanks!!

Tony, that has been a challenge over the years of screen viewing to actual print. After I went to on line only print sales I leave it to the “pros” so to speak now. As you said, the costs involved of Epson ink alone was too much for me. Throw in the paper and well you know the issue if you still can’t get the right look.

I assume you’re using the recommended P900 printer profile. I think my printer that I sold years back was a Epson 2400?..anyway, I got a printer profile from Michael Gordon when he was doing that magic back then. It helped with my success rate but after a couple years most everything was going on line.

Quite honestly, my printing “looks” was lacking once I saw the first set of prints people bought from my on line outlet.
Hopefully, others will comment on this thread who are still printing and maybe even a person using the same P900…best of luck to you.

Tony, are your smaller prints and your larger prints printed on the same paper with the exact same printer settings and the same ICC profile and rendering intent? If yes, you shouldn’t be seeing a difference in the prints.


Thank you for your response. My question is not really about softproofing. What I am really asking is what happens to our visual perception when we blow up a photo? It makes total sense to me that brightness and darkness would appear different in a large picture compared to a small one. If you have a bright area totally surrounded by darkness in a very small print it’s going to seem very bright, but if you enlarge that photo and make the white area much larger it seems like it obviously would seem a little bit less bright. So I’m really asking what is people’s experience blowing up photos? Do they really notice no visual perceptual changes between light and dark areas? The small print looks exactly the same as the large print? No adjustments are necessary to have the visual experience seemed the same between the two photos?

Tony, are you talking about the varying amounts of white in the border around the printed image? I guess it’s possible that a bigger or smaller border around an image could subjectively influence how one sees the colour and tones but I’ve never personally noticed that. I usually print on letter sized paper (for me) and on 13x19" or 17x22" paper for images to put on a wall and I don’t think I have ever observed any differences.

I’ve not noticed differences between large and small prints, either, if both are on the same paper, although most of my prints aren’t very contrasty with large bright vs. dark areas. I think that’s what Tom was getting at. If your test prints aren’t on the same paper as the large prints, they will definitely look different. I often test print on different paper, just to get close to final. For the final, though, I always have to make a few more adjustments.

Regarding the perception of light vs. dark, it seems like there could be physical mechanism to describe that. Maybe with a larger print, with a larger area of brights, the pupils contract (as they do when going outside on a bright day), making the bright area seem darker than in a print with smaller areas of white.

Thanks Tom and Bonnie. I do use the same paper for the small and large print. And the difference I am talking about is small, most noticible in the brightest of the brights. My wife didn’t notice the difference when I asked her if she could see a difference. Perhaps I’m the only one who would notice the difference, because I spent so much time editing and re editing the photo to get it just right!

Andrew Rodney, an original Photoshop Guru and co founder of Pixel Genius had this to say to my question (can the visual perception change when blowing up a print to a larger size) in the Luminous Landscape forum:
"It can change visually yes. For many years, master print makers have added a touch of saturation or midtone contrast to account for this. Clarity in Lightroom Classic/ACR is an example of this from master printer Mac Holbert. He has/had a Photoshop action specifically for this case use. "

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Interesting, I did not know this.