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A Basic Guide to Color Management eBook

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Basic Guide to Color Management - Introduction

Some people maintain that in the past, color management for digital photography laid too much emphasis on the technical aspects of scanning. Moreover, they suggest that this approach has given poor results for almost all types of digital photography.

With an artistic and commercial view, it is believed that over the last several years it has become apparent that there are at least four different types of digital photography, each requiring its own approach to color management. These four approaches, named for their application areas, are: “pleasing”, “advertising”, “reproduction with knockout” and “exact reproduction”. Below are summaries of these four types, ordered from the least to the most exacting color reproduction situations.

1. Pleasing

Many images taken with digital cameras fall into this category. These may be images made by amateur or non-critical professional photographers who simply want a pleasing image. The user does not want to be bothered with the details of why it works, just the results; a good pleasing image. Often this is only required in the form of a repeatable print out.

2. Advertising

This method is usually used for situations such as advertising photography where the photographer exercises his creative judgment and style to produce the image required by the client. Exact reproduction of the original object is not necessary, as the client only wants to see the final version appearing on the monitor. Here the client should see no difference between viewing the image on either yours or his monitor

3. Reproduction with Knockout

Images made for catalogs need to have the color close to the original but are often shot on white surfaces to allow for removing or “knocking out” the background. Under these circumstances we try to optimise the color management system to keep the background neutral, but the colors accurate within the final image.

4. Exact Reproduction

Fine art reproduction, both commercially and for museums, needs exact reproduction of the original’s colors as they may be being used for archival, historical, scientific and other purposes. Calibration and characterisation of the digital photographic image system will be vital with particular attention paid to printer color management via Custom ICC Profiles.

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Different digital photographic situations similar to those above and numerous variations may require different rendering intent such as Perceptual, Relative Colorimetric, or Absolute Colorimetric to be incorporated in to Custom ICC Profiles.

Whatever the intent, your system must be calibrated and characterised for imaging tasks having a well-defined workflow in a recognised environment.

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