I'm always amazed at photographers who "eyeball" color management. It reminds me of the time I installed shelves in my first apartment, thinking I could find the studs just by tapping the walls and not measuring. By the time I found the studs, the wall looked like it had been hit with a shotgun blast. Sure I got the shelves up, but had I done things right from the beginning I would have saved myself a whole lot of time and headaches.
A couple of months ago, I wrote a post about installing X-Rite's ColorTRUE software on my iPad and was blown away by the difference it made. I don't make my living as a photographer, but you do. The technology and dedication that's gone into ColorTRUE is in every X-Rite product. Even better, John Paul Caponigro is about to take you through six simple steps to color management!
You're a professional photographer and the tools are right there at your fingertips, but it's up to you to take full advantage of what they can do for you.
6 Simple Steps To Good Color Management
by John Paul Caponigro
I remember the days before color management. They were painfully imprecise and inefficient. Color management changed that. Now I get better results, more quickly, more easily, and with less waste. While there’s more to learn, once you’ve got the basics down and the right tools (a colorimeter or spectrophotometer) with a few simple steps you can get high quality results quickly and consistently. Sure, there’s more to learn. You can dive in as deep as you’d like to. Color management is rocket science. But you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to drive the rocket. Instead, be an astronaut. Take these six simple steps and the quality of your images and prints will soar.
1 – Make Profiled Conversions
Assign an ICC profile to all image files either during Raw conversion or scanning. Use appropriate profiles to make conversions into other color spaces with derivative files only. Minimize the number of conversions made.
2 – Calibrate Your Monitor Using Hardware
Once a month, use a colorimeter to build an ICC profile for your monitor. Minimize the influence of other light sources during characterization. Use the colorimeter’s software to help you set monitor brightness between 90 and 100 and choose White Point D65 and Gamma 2.2. Check the results with know target images afterwards. (I use X-Rite’s i1Display Pro; it takes 5 minutes once a month.)
3 – Set Good Photoshop Color Settings
In Photoshop’s Color Settings (in the Edit Menu) Set Color Management Policies to Preserve Embedded Profiles and Ask When Opening / Pasting. And, choose a wide gamut device neutral editing space. Start with North American Prepress Defaults and then change RGB to ProPhoto RGB.
4 – Softproof
Simulate the appearance of a print before printing. Go to View : Proof Setup : Custom and choose the profile you intend to print with. Check Simulate Paper Color and choose a rendering intent of either Perceptual or Relative Colorimetric. Make output specific adjustments before printing. Use these adjustments only when printing these media.
5 – Navigate Your Printer Driver Correctly
Use Photoshop / Lightroom or your printer driver to manage color – not both. In general, favor using Photoshop/Lightroom as this is the most versatile allowing you to use custom output profiles. (I make printer/paper profiles with my X-Rite’s i1Pro; it takes longer to print and dry the target than it does to measure it and make the profile.)
6 – Control Your Environment
Edit and evaluate your images in neutral surroundings. Minimize the effect of extraneous light sources, such as glare on monitors or back-lighting. Evaluate proofs and prints in appropriate lighting.
There’s much more that can be said about each of these topics – but, not much more to do. Take these six simple steps and you’ll be well on your way to achieving consistent, high quality results with your images.
Need more help, just click on any of the links below. Nobody does it better than John Paul Caponigro!