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Color Management for Photographers

Book includes case studies and tutorials By John Virata

If you work with color images for print and prepress on a daily basis, color management issues are one of the most important issues that crop up on a daily basis. Today, all photographers and art directors worth their pixels use Adobe Photoshop and must deal with color management on a daily basis. Andrew Rodney's Color Management for Photographers is a work that helps explain the topic, through color theory to case studies and tutorials. Here is a brief synopsis of his 10 chapter, 464 page book.

Chapter 1 Color Management and Why we need it discusses the reasons as to why color management is a critical function of the creative process in certain applications. Topics discussed in the chapter include the Pixel, What is Light, What is Color, Color modes and color spaces, Device dependent and independent color spaces, RGB versus CMYK, Desktop Color, color management versus color correction, calibration versus profiling, color gamut and translation and more. Rodney touches on all these issues and more in just the first chapter.

Chapter 2 Photoshop and Color Management discusses the use of this application and color management, what might be considered the main thrust of the title. Here Rodney begins with a discussion, Photoshop before ICC Color Management, including a lengthy discussion of RGB/CMYK conversion; Photoshop's ICC Color architecture inclusion with version 5 of the application, more of a history of Photoshop the application and its embrace of ICC color profiles. Other topics include working in the different color spaces, a sidebar on editing in LAB, Photoshop color settings, black point compensation and more.

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Chapter 3 Building Display Profiles discusses the following topics; Use and difference between CRTs and LCDs, Calibration, then profiling, visual profiling, What to set and what to expect, which is a set of instructions on how to calibrate your display with a hardware calibration device, Other areas to Watch for, (such as not changing resolution or any other display settings after calibration), When Print and Display Don't Match and how to correct it to get the right print, and viewing images outside of ICC-Savvy applications. This chapter has a lot of helpful tips on display calibration and answers some questions regarding calibration.

Chapter 4 Building Scanner Profiles offers tips on calibrating a scanner using the various color targets that are available. Topics discussed in this chapter include the use of HCT or IT8 targets, high bit capture, scanner settings, handling color negatives, and getting scans from outside sources such as a service bureau.

Chapter 5 Building Camera Profiles offers discussions on such topics as RAW files, metamerism and how it affects output with regard to digital cameras, Rendered RGB versus RAW, EXIF data and color space, targets and photographing targets for color checking, what to do when camera profiles go bad. The chapter also goes in depth with regard to Adobe Camera RAW and Color Management.

Chapter 6 Building Printer/Output Profiles offers tips on what tools to use when building profiles for printers. A big chapter in terms of content covered, Chapter 6 offers an overview on building profiles as well as discussions on spectrophotometers, colorimeters, and scanners. Rodney also offers mini reviews of related hardware items such as the Eye One pro, Gretagmacbeth Spectrolino, X-Rite Pulse, and DTP-41. Other discussed topics include calibration and printer profiles, target data and reference files, printing grayscale and black and white images, and linearization, among other topics. There is also an interesting sidebar on printer drivers and their effect on quality and color gamut. The chapter also includes some extensive color screen shots of the various output profilers on the market.

Chapter 7 Printing to a Press offers a layman's look at printing to a press. This chapter discusses why a photographer has to understand the term prepress, as well as the terms RGB and CMYK and why those two acronyms (and others) are important for successful printing to a press. Topics discussed include The Contract Proof, profiling the press, SWOP and TR001, CMYK and Black Generation, Total Ink Limits or TAC, and UCR/GCR. Also featured is a trouble shooting section covering such topics as what to do when you can't target your output, spot, process and Pantone colors, when and where to apply color management, when not to embed an ICC Profile, prepping files for clients and printers, and what to show your clients, and what is an RGB pipeline.

Chapter 8 CMS Utilities  discusses the various color management utilities available, including Apple's ColorSync, Chromix Colorthink, Monaco GamutWorks, ColorShopX, Alwan ColorPursuit, ColorWidgets, GretagMacbeth Eye-One Share, and GretagMacbeth iQueue. In this chapter, the author offers up some reviews of those CMS tools that he is familiar with, and an overview of the other tools on the market.

Chapter 9 and 10 are devoted to color management tutorials and case studies, including tutorials on Photoshop's Color Picker and Color Model, Color Documents and Color Appearance, Rendering Intents, RGB Working Space, and more. In all there are 15 tutorials covering many aspects of color management. The case studies detail interviews of several well known artists, including Joseph Holmes, Greg Gorman, Mac Holbert, Mike Ornellas, Stephen Wilkes, and Andrew Rodney. The case studies include interviews conducted by the author as well as articles written by the subjects discussing their color management workflow. This chapter is probably the most interesting in my opinion because it details the workflows of these artists, rather than the mundaneness of color management. You get to know their workflows and what they use and why they use it. The end of the book includes a list of acronyms that are written throughout the book as well as a comprehensive glossary of the terms used in the book.

This is an ideal book for those working in virtually all areas of photography and prepress and publishing who have to deal with color management on a daily basis. There is a lot of color theory in this book but there is more practical hands on knowledge of color management in Photoshop. It is complete reference of color management. The case studies are by far the most interesting reads. The included CD features a demo of ColorBurst RIP, ColorPursuit, and the Eastman Kodak Color Target profile, BabelColor color language translator and comparator. For more information, visit

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John Virata is senior editor of Digital Media Online. You can email him at [email protected]
Related Keywords:photoshop color management, color management, color theory, Andrew Rodney


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