Color is one of the major artistic tools we have to express emotion and mood with photography. Being able use the new digital technology available to control color very precisely gives us unimagined creative opportunities.
Color information travels from the outer world into our eyes and then cameras. From there it travels to our computers where we adjust the color images on our screens for output to inkjet prints, world wide web or lab prints. How color is viewed and captured and adjusted in each step of this journey is a very complicated technical story, perhaps one of the hardest things to really understand in all of photography.
I want to avoid all the details here and just cut to the chase on what you need to get your color right. There are many books and articles that go into excruciating technical detail about every step of color’s long and complicated journey.
Put simply, we want the color we see in the world to match the color we see on our computer screen, and that color to match our inkjet or lab prints.
If you have ever seen a TV store with many walls of TVs, you may have noticed how different screens display the same image with different colors. Calibrating your computer screen adjusts your screen’s presentation of color to universally agreed upon standards. Using a calibrating tool that attaches to your screen and read’s how your screen is displaying color, you can very quickly and easily calibrate your screen. Anyone else with a calibrated screen will see the same color from a given file on their screen, as you are on your screen. This is extremely important if you are shooting for publication on the web or in print. Calibration is also important if you plan on having prints made for you, or you are sending out images of any importance for others to use or display. While a brand new computer may be very close to accurate color, many if not most screens will have color shifts over time as the screen ages. Many photographers re-calibrate their screen on a regular basis.
Apple over the past few years has seemed to stabilized it’s screens. I have not needed to calibrate my screens for years now.
The Pantone Huey is an affordable calibrator, coming in under $100 last I checked. Two of the most respected calibrators are made by Monaco and Gretagmcbeth.
If you want to explore color management in detail, check out www.drycreekphoto.com