Getting Color Correct Can be Tricky

If you’re particular about getting color right in your photographs, you know that sometimes it’s not easy.
I had previously written a three part series on the just the first of several color stumbling blocks –

Getting color right in the camera at the time of image capture. Here’s a link to the 1st part. There’s a link at the end of part 1 taking you to part 2 (and – you guessed it, another in 2 to take you to 3).

However, it doesn’t stop with getting color right in the camera.

That’s followed by the mysterious and often complex world of color management – getting your camera, your computer and your printer to agree on what red (or any other color) really looks like. This is the world of monitor calibration and printer/paper/ink profiling – not for the faint of heart. 😉 Here’s what I wrote (a two-parter).

Today, it came home to me that even if I have everything “nailed down perfectly” for my system, all bets are off if I want to show you an image over the internet. I knew this but was never too concerned about it because the fix is up to you – the remote viewer. There’s nothing I can do about it except to alert you to the problem. I can’t fix the “off-colors” you see on your monitor – even if your system is also “nailed down perfectly”. This problem came home to me today because I was making prints for a third party. Things can go wrong quickly if the proof images are uploaded to a website for the “client” to preview. Most likely the colors they’re viewing are wrong – even if their out of camera color is correct and their monitor is calibrated. You’re likely to hear – “Your website’s images don’t match what I sent to you” – if you include a copy of their original for them to compare your pre-print “teaks” against. There are two main problems that cause this –

  1. The “client’s” internet browser may not be color managed. If they’re using IE, for example – except for maybe the IE9 beta – it’s definitely not color managed and the colors that I post will not be the colors that they see, often far from it.
  2. Their monitor may not be capable of displaying the full 16.7 million colors that they paid for and that their graphics card is capable of showing.

You can check to see if you have problem #1 by visiting this site and doing the simple 2-second mouse rollover test there.
For problem #2, you can see if your monitor is capable of displaying the full 16.7 million colors that you expect (instead of less than 2% of that number) by checking your monitor’s spec’s to see if it uses a TN panel (poor) or an ISP panel (good). To determine this, you’ll need to do a little research using Google. If you bought an inexpensive monitor at a big box store, it’s likely to be one using TN technology (which may be fine if image color accuracy isn’t its main purpose).
And you thought that your problems were over once you remember to set your camera’s white balance correctly?! 😉

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