Early June, I was tasked to talk about color management during the Graphic Expo in Manila. I was hoping to see more photographers attend this type of seminar since they are part of the workflow. In fact, the source of file starts from photographers and in some cases where the photographer prints their own images, it also ends with them.
Unfortunately, only a few photographers attended the seminar and most were digital and conventional printers. There’s a lot of things to consider when managing your colors and the most important thing you should do is to understand the characteristic of colors and how we reproduce it when capturing and outputting it.
The problem starts when we start reproducing colors. When we capture colors through our camera, we record the light which carries the colors. We then process it internally and a reproduction of the captured scene is displayed in your camera LCD. A file is saved in your memory card and rendered in your computer using a different LCD display with different video card.
To add to the complication, you now print your image using an ink based on CMYK using an image taken by your camera that is based in RGB. The paper whiteness also affects the white point of the image which then affects the brightness and contrast. To make them all complex, different photographers use different brand of camera, monitors and printers.
Crossing your fingers will not help you this time around. Photographers invest a lot on lenses that can give you better colors, brightness and contrast. They invest in camera that has a larger sensor to capture better lighting and color depth. Everything in photography is expensive all devoted to getting the best color. Are you managing it?
One very common problem is monitor. Every monitor has their own characteristic. Even if they have the same make and production batch, they still differ. You spend a lot of time correcting the colors of your image in your monitor. Are you assured that the colors rendered in your monitor is correct? What if your monitor is displaying you the wrong colors.
I don’t know of any photographer who hasn’t experienced printing their image and got a different result from what they expected. Start by understanding the different monitor specs like is it IPS, resolution and more. When you get the right monitor for you, investing in a monitor calibration device is a smart decision.
Deciding when to work with 16-bit file and 8-bit file matters especially when submitting images for high end printing. Find out the difference between sRGB and aRGB and which one will best fit your post processing workflow. Working with a printer that truly understands color is essential to your workflow.
Color issues are real and it will affect your digital workflow. Photography is critical and so as processing it. Keep on shooting everyone!
Text by Albert Pedrosa