Color management, the process of ensuring that colors are consistent, accurate and repeatable throughout the entire workflow, has historically been considered a time-consuming and complex process. Given the advances in color technology, the ability to capture true-to-life, consistent color is easily within reach for all photographers.
So this begs the question: with today’s high-tech devices, why do photographers still need to worry about color management or calibrated monitors?
- Monitors display colors differently. Even two monitors of the same brand and model will have differences and their colors can shift more over time.
- You can’t depend on your eyes. Factors such as fatigue and time of day affect how your eyes see color.
- Image colors are not true to life. Often your photos don’t look right on your monitor– skin tones are off, whites aren’t pure, and blues look cyan.
- If your monitor isn’t displaying your photo’s true colors, you will waste unnecessary time editing.
- Prints don’t match your monitor. With an uncalibrated monitor, the colors in your printed photos won’t match what you see on screen, and so the cycle begins again.
All of these differences can add up throughout the workflow, leading to inconsistent color that can be time-consuming and frustrating to attempt to correct in post-production.
For professionals, the benefits of color calibration are significant. In addition to control of the resulting images, managing color throughout the workflow will save significant time and resources in editing and trial and error processes. Once all devices are calibrated, you can be sure that the colors that are seen on the screen precisely match the prints in your hand and the proof you show your client represents the final results.
In order to produce accurate color, photographers should take a few simple steps to ensure the devices they use throughout the workflow are properly calibrated.
Calibrate your camera
Every camera brand, model, and sensor, even different lenses for the same camera will have color variations. Each can photograph the same color with different interpretations of hue, saturation, and brightness. If multiple cameras are used in the same shoot, each may produce visibly different color interpretations for the same subject matter.
To curb these inconsistencies, there are affordable tools on the market that enable photographers to quickly calibrate their cameras using pigmented color targets and software to create corrections that can be applied to images during the RAW import process. The benefits of calibrating the camera are that pictures will not only be more accurate to the original subject but also more consistent between sources, reducing manual adjustments in post-production, for a quicker, easier process.
Calibrate your computer displays
Your monitor is a tool you need to be able to trust. If your monitor color isn’t accurate, you won’t see true-to-life colors, or highlight and shadow details, not to mention correct skin tones. And if you’re looking at an image that isn’t true, how can you edit it properly, or get your screen to match your prints? You can’t. Datacolor Spyder will solve all of that in minutes.
Calibrating your monitor ensures your color is accurate before editing or printing. In order to see images the way you intended them, your monitor needs to be calibrated. Calibration ensures that what you see is what you get.
Profile your printer
Printer profiling ensures the final printed materials are accurate and will match your calibrated cameras and displays. Users need to calibrate their printer for each type of paper used because each paper absorbs and reflects color differently. Different profiles are then used for matte fine art paper, gloss photo paper, or other paper types. Accurate printer profiles eliminate the time and expense of trial and error adjustments that otherwise occur during image printing.
From capture to editing, to print, color management is a vital part of the entire workflow. The ability to capture, edit, and print with complete control ensures your photos are captured accurately, your monitor displays true-to-life colors, and your prints are perfect every time. The Datacolor S5SSR100 Spyder5STUDIO Color Calibration Kit is the ultimate color calibration solution designed for photographers who demand the highest level of control and accuracy over their entire digital color workflow.
World-renowned fashion and beauty photographer Lindsay Adler needs complete confidence in knowing the colors she sees on the screen matches those of the prints in her hand. By calibrating her monitor with Spyder5, she can control the many variables that may affect the color of her images. In this recent Q & A, Lindsay emphasizes the importance of color calibration throughout the entire workflow.
Q&A with world-renowned fashion and beauty photographer Lindsay Adler
Why is color calibration important to you?
As a fashion and beauty photographer, accurate color becomes essential to my career. When photographing clothes for a designer, I need to capture and deliver files that accurately represent the true color of those clothes. When I’m photographing skin or beauty images, I need to have stunning skin tones and accurate color. Overall, color is essential to my career!
How do you use color calibration within your workflow?
I start by photographing a color chart as a way to get a reference point for accurate colors in my images. This will help not only make adjustments to white balance but ensure each color is being correctly represented in the photograph.
Next, I use custom profiles in Lightroom to automatically read the color chart and adjust colors as necessary.
When viewing my images, I work on a variety of monitors. I make sure these monitors are calibrated and also try to work with the highest quality monitors I can afford. I am in particular a fan of EIZO products and was first introduced to these monitors on high-end fashion shoots in NYC.
What are some issues that may arise if you are not properly calibrated?
For me, there are three big issues that arise when I don’t have proper calibration. First, when my images end up in print in a magazine the quality of the images could be severely lacking. I always want a beautiful rendition of my work, and without color calibration, it is possible that they will look bad in print. Second, if colors are inaccurate for a designer, they are going to feel that I did not provide the services they required and I will have an unhappy customer. Finally, skin tones become important as a way to help a subject look their best and also help my clients sell their products. If the skin is not accurate, then the image will not meet its potential. If you look at my work, you see just how pervasive and important rich color is!
How long have you been using Spyder products?
I first got a Spyder product when I had a small portrait business in upstate NY more than a dozen years ago. At that time I was shooting, retouching and printing all of my files. For this reason, color calibration became important as I managed each part of the image-making process.
What are some things you like about the new Spyder5?
Spyder5 helps me to take control of the many variables that may affect my color. For example, it helps me determine optimal monitor brightness– something that previously had been up for a lot of debate and varies from monitor to monitor. Furthermore, it is easy to use as always and even offers me the ability to monitor how ambient light can affect my images appearance. All of the elements that affect my monitor calibration have been considered!