Thursday 29 May 2008

Basic Principles of Colour Management

For further photography-related information check out my compendium of tips.

I don't claim to be an expert on colour management but I think I understand the basics (if after reading this you think that I don't, then please feel free to post a comment and correct me). However, that's all I want to write about in this post - the basic principles.

In an ideal world you'd take a picture of, or scan in, the colour chart above and it would look identical to the original on both your monitor and when printed out. For this to occur your digital camera, or scanner, needs to record the colours accurately, your monitor needs to display them accurately and your printer needs to output them accurately. As I'm sure you're all aware, the world, alas, is far from ideal.

For an example of this struggle with colour, think about a TV showroom - loads of TV sets side-by-side displaying the same channel but with each picture looking very different. Not only is there huge variability between models but also variability between individual TV sets in the same range.

The bottom line is that electronic and digital devices struggle to handle colours accurately - they need feedback to know how well they're doing. We therefore measure precisely how the device is handling colour (as the spectrophotometer would be doing if the monitor in the above picture was turned on) and then construct a correcting colour profile for that device. This in a nutshell is colour management.

I'll concentrate on colour management in the digital photography workflow in a subsequent post. I colour manage my monitor for wedding photography with a Gretag Eye-One device.

No comments: