Archive for the ‘Photography workshops’ category

Do You Color Outside The Lines?

November 7, 2009
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New York skyline, approaching storm.

Profiles.  They can be good or bad, your left side or right side, or what you write about yourself on Facebook.  But in digital printing,   profiles are part of the the glue that connects the colors your digital camera captures to the colors in your digital print.

A printer profile is a bit of software, called an ICC file,  that describes  how a particular combination of printer, inkset, and printing paper reproduce colors at a specific printing  resolution. For example,  the ICC profile SP7898 PLPP260 PK 2880.icc describes how an Epson 7800 printer using the K3 inkset with Photo Black ink printing on Epson Premium Lustre 260 paper at a printing resolution of 2880 dpi reproduces color.

Profiles are useful because they let Adobe Photoshop  accurately  preview what your image will look like when it’s printed, and  to control your digital printer’s output so it matches that preview. (or, at least, as close as ink on paper can look to pixels on a monitor).

Once the appropriate profiles are installed, Photoshop  uses them in the View>Proof Setup command on the top menu to preview images,  and in the Print dialogue to control your printer. Voila, an accurate print.

Or maybe not.

Along with ICC profiles, colorspace helps to determine what colors your camera records, that Photoshop displays and  your print or digital file reproduce. A device colorspace defines the range of colors, or gamut, that a device, such as a camera or printer, can reproduce. An editing colorspace is device-independent, but determines the color range you can work in with, for, example, Adobe Photoshop software.

The main colorspaces photographers work in are Adobe RGB (1998), the traditional editing space for, naturally, Adobe Photoshop;  sRGB,  which is primarily used for  images posted on the web; and, more recently ProPhoto.

sRGB  has a smaller gamut than Adobe 1998, which has a smaller gamut than ProPhoto. Why is this important?  Because to know how the beautiful colors in your digital image will look in a print, your devices need to be using the same colorspace, your monitor needs to be calibrated accurately to the same colorspace, and your editing software needs to display the same color space.

See what I meant by insanity?  BTW, for you people working with Adobe Lightroom, it uses the ProPhoto color space.

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My, What A Beautiful Profile You Have!

October 16, 2009
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Surfside Dawn

One of the great things about digital photography is convenience. You can see your pictures right away, and delete those you hate and take more.

You can take a bazillion pictures and they’re saved on a teeny tiny memory card that’s barely bigger than your thumbnail.

You can load them into a computer and store them,  erase the memory card, and go out and take more pictures.

And you can make prints yourself, hooking your computer up to a digital printer, and – sometimes they look great.

But too often, digital  prints are a disappointment because the colors are wrong, or the pictures are too dark, or they just look gooky –  not at all like the glorious images you saw through the viewfinder.

I teach digital printing workshops, and the question I hear most often is,  “Why don’t my prints look the same as my pictures looked on the monitor?”

That’s a good question with a complex answer.

It’s because  digital cameras see (and record) color differently than a computer monitor, which sees color differently than a digital printer. Metaphorically, while they’re all talking the same basic language, it’s like each one is speaking a different dialect and missing a few words of what the others are saying.

In my digital printing workshops, I teach how to get all these devices talking to each other properly to get consistent results, to have your prints match what you see on your monitor, and how to control the digital printing process so that you can make artistic choices in how to render an image.

Or, in other words, the art and science of  using a color managed digital workflow.

And, just as the future rested on single word, “plastics,” whispered to Dustin Hoffman in “The Graduate,” digital color management also rests on a single word: “profiles”

Next Time:  Profiles, Color Space and  Insanity.

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