Colour Management

The colours you see, the colours I see… Colour management and photography

If y take your digital photography seriously, and you want your results to be consistent, you pretty much have to have an understanding of colour management. For the uninitiated, it seems pretty complicated, but put very simply – colour management is a way of working with your digital images so you can accurately view colours as you work so the image you shoot, looks like the image on your screen which will look like the image you print. Sound easy – well it should be, but colour management was and still is a bit of a mess and an afterthought in most operating systems and applications.

Imagine someone sat down at your computer and made the screen really bright and maybe a bit blue looking – most people actually have their laptops set up in this way. If you work on a black and white photo – it will look abnormally bright, especially compared to a print, and a bit blue on this monitor. If you make the image look ‘normal’ on YOUR monitor, bit may in fact look a bit dull and possibly RED on someone else’s monitor. Colour management helps you ensure YOUR environment is controlled and you have a reliable colour workspace. Heaps more technical information here…

In order to have your screen accurately display your digital images, you need to calibrate your screen so that it is ‘neutral’ and doesn’t display a colour cast (eg. a red tinge or a blue tinge). If you’ve been looking at a monitor for more than a few minutes, it’s really hard to notice – so a hardware calibrator is necessary if you take these things seriously. The hardware calibrator sits on your screen and measures the colours, gamma and brightness of your screen and then can make adjustments to your graphics card so that your screen produces accurate colour – black and whites will not have colour in them and colours will be accurate…. but anyhow.. I’ll go into this in more detail soon in Liperty Tech.

I was having a seriously hard time getting both of my monitors to produce accurate colour and I finally found someone who knew what they were talking about and was willing to help me out. The net is a great resource but when it comes to colour management – a lot of information out there is either misleading or even completely wrong. Jeremy Daalder of Image Science (Melbourne), not only understood the problems I had, but also took the time to write me detailed emails explaining the technologies involved and helping me sort out my problems. I was seriously impressed with the service there and will be going back for my photography gear. In the end, it seems I have hit a limitation of the windows operating system where you need TWO graphics cards to maintain TWO monitor profiles for colour managed applications… I’ll do a write up in Liperty Tech when I get a chance.

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