Color Management is the science of getting the colors you want in your photographs – consistently. And in my workshops I hear all too often that people are disappointed because the colors they get in their prints are not what they saw on their monitors. They often go to a lot of work preparing an image and when they print it it’s as if all that work was a waste of time.
Color Management is indeed a science and can be very complicated and technical. But getting the same colors on the print that you see on your monitor is essential if you are to have control over the creative process. For that, color management is the key and in these series of articles I’m trying to break it down to make it more understandable and accessible for all of us.
In the previous two articles I presented the concept of a color space and what happens behind the scenes when you move the image from the camera to your computer. See Color Management Made Simple – Color Space and Color Management Made Simple – From Camera to Computer. In this article I’ll be covering the all important aspect of getting your prints to look like what you see on your monitor; that is, from Computer to Print.
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If Color Space can be described as a box of Crayons as we suggested in Color Management Made Simple – Color Space, what else do we need to know about Color Management? Well, Color Management is essentially about getting the right colors – and here’s the most important word – consistently.
Let’s spend a few moments talking about the ‘right color.’ (I’m inclined to add, ‘whatever that is.’) The story begins when you press the shutter. Let’s suppose you are photographing the beautiful redwoods of Northern California.
The scene is full of rich browns and oranges and vibrant greens. We can say that these are the right colors, these are the colors you want. You set up your camera and snap a picture and your sensor captures these colors, pretty much just as they are (the sensor is playing with pretty much the full big box of 120 Crayons). The camera’s processor does its thing and the image is saved in a file to your memory card. Eventually we’re going to view the photograph on our computer’s monitor and we just might be a bit disappointed.
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Color Management is a very complex topic. And it’s possible to get bogged down in a lot of technical details. But it’s extremely important, especially if you want to print your photographs. And it can be broken down into a few simple concepts.
On my workshops I often get asked questions about color management and the topic is huge and a bit technical to get into the details. So I thought I’d give an overview of the topic in a few blog posts. Who knows, maybe I’ll create a presentation that can be used during a workshop.
Let’s start with color space which is the whole reason we need color management.
A color space is all the colors that can be rendered using a given technology. Think if it this way. You all enjoyed coloring with crayons when you were young. And I don’t know about you but I was always envious of my friends that had the big giant boxes of crayons with 120 different colors. They had every color under the sun.
We can think of the 120 crayon box as being the color space of the real world with every color under the sun.
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