This image shows chief curator Forrest McGill and Wilsted & Taylor principal Christine Taylor proofing color for our upcoming catalogue of art objects from Burma and Thailand in conjunction with the Emerald Cities exhibition.
We typically go through three rounds of color proofs with the printer (in this case Regal Printing in Hong Kong). Most of our imagery is digital these days, which represents a savings of time and money. Traditional photography had to be scanned at the printer (or elsewhere) at significant expense and impact on the publication schedule. But with traditional photography — transparencies, slides, or prints — we would have the original to proof against. That, unfortunately, is not the case with digital.
With digital imagery we usually rely on matching prints produced by museum photographer Kaz Tsuruta, who has carefully calibrated his system. A portion of some of the match prints can be seen here in a binder by Forrest’s right elbow. In difficult cases we are sometimes able to compare the print to the original artwork. In the case of this book, for example, we looked at several objects that were being worked on in the conservation lab.
Proofing is done at our proofing station, which offers viewing consistency, spectrally neutral light, glare reduction, and evenness of illumination.
We check for overall color cast — the balance of cyan, magenta, yellow, and black, which are the colors of the four-color printing process. We also check for retention of image detail (usually a function of the black separation), amount of contrast, and other elements. We may make global corrections to an entire image or call for spot corrections on only a portion of it.
The marked-up proofs are returned to the printer, who makes the requested changes and sends back another set for the next round of proofing. Once all the proofs have been okayed, the approved copies will be available on press for the person who is doing the press check to compare to the printed sheets. At that point press adjustments are still available. We believe a press check is an important component of any high-quality color printing job.
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