Managing Your Colors

If you ask a photographer 4 years ago if he calibrates his monitor, he’d give you a big question mark in his face. Color management has been an integral part of digital imaging even during it’s inception during the late 80’s. Photography, having shifted to digital as well is not exempted in this case.

color management

Although, many photographers calibrate their monitors, still the understanding of how the entire color management workflow affects the result of their actions needs more comprehension. Managing your colors is actually given attention from the very start of capturing your image up to the last part of printing it.

Here are some misnomer in the practice of color management:

Camera Color Profile

Having color management in mind, you could have probably set your camera to use Adobe RGB in the color profile setup. And then you start shooting RAW, expecting that the profile will be carried by the file during recording.

As a photographer, you must understand that the color profile setting only applies to JPEG files. The RAW file will not carry any profile since it is RAW by nature and would still need further processing and color mapping during post processing. By default, most of the image editor application like Lightroom or Camera Raw would use ProPhoto color space and not Adobe RGB.

Monitor Calibration

In one of my tutorial sessions, I asked my student if he calibrated his laptop already and he answered me that its a Mac and are they not calibrated already. Monitors may it be the most expensive monitor from Dell, requires calibration. This allows the other application and the operating system to work on common ground.

The profile information of the monitor will be the basis of how the colors will be rendered. This interaction is important in how the images are treated when outputted for printing or web display. Note that to maintain accuracy, monitors should be recalibrated at least once every quarter.

Matching your prints

Monitor calibration is just one part of color management. Printing your photos is another part of the workflow. This means that to be able to match the color or at least render a similar tones would require you to calibrate your printer as well.

This become very tricky because in printing, the variability in paper stocks changes the way the colors are rendered. Every printer, ink, paper stock and printer driver combination should be considered in making printer profiles.

You could probably say that Color management is under a different league outside the premise of photography. Maybe you’re right, but I believe that a good understanding is key in getting the most out of your captured image.

Hardware and software this time around are more intelligent and offers a good integration in color management that makes it more easy for photographers to perform their task. The idea is to come up with a tested workflow and ensure consistency every time you do it.

Keep on shooting everyone!

Text by Albert Pedrosa 

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