Color Management – Introduction

IMPORTANT -If your print colors don’t match what you see on your monitor (and you used proper white balance settings for your camera and are confident that the colors captured by your camera are accurate), you must read this section. Simply choosing an option such as “Optimize for Printing” in your post-processing program is unlikely to solve your problem. More likely – your monitor (and/or printer, or both) are not calibrated properly.

In previous sections, we examined the subject of color as it relates to digital image capture in a typical D-SLR. At the beginning of this exploration of color, I noted that image capture in the camera was only one of several potential color problem areas. Getting color correct in-camera is necessary, but that alone isn’t sufficient to assure that the colors we see when we get the image out of the camera are correct.

We have no guarantee that the correct colors we worked so hard to achieve in-camera will display correctly on any & every monitor (or any other electronic device such as a TV or projector). They won’t – on every….  Above, we see the identical image displayed on two monitors but the colors look nothing alike (discussed in the next color segment).
Further, even if we get the correct in-camera color to display properly on our monitor that is no guarantee that the colors we see on the monitor are what we’ll see on a paper print.

As mentioned in the Color Primer at the beginning of this section, the topic that deals with all of these issues is called Color Management (CM).

  • For CM information, with a practical slant, check out Dry Creek Photo (DCP) (especially the sections on monitor & printer calibration, which apply to this section). Also, note that printer profiles for Costco printers are available at DCP for  downloading and use with files you take to Costco for the best control of print color accuracy – instructions are at the site. All in all, DCP is one the best internet sources for straight forward CM information including results of tests they’ve run on CM related products – technically competent and unbiased reviews. Take time to explore the site; it will be worth it.
  • Read the material at this link for another view of CM (note the link is to page 1 of 3; further links are there for the remaining pages).

I’m not going into any color management theory or detail beyond

  • pointing you to the previous sites,
  • suggesting that you search the web if you want still more, and
  • noting that CM is an extensive and complex subject which has spawned numerous books and PhD dissertations – I can’t do it justice here but can alert you to its vital importance if you want accurate color in your prints.

In the next segment, I will show examples of monitor color problems (like in the above image) and discuss how to deal with them. In the final section, I’ll discuss similar problems as they relate to printers, ink, paper and the resulting prints. The rest is up to you in terms of  any follow up, or not, with your own monitors and printers.

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