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Color Management

The purpose of a color-managed workflow is for you to achieve the anticipated color output from your file. What you see on your monitor is what you should be getting as a final output. The following is some basic information to easily help you to achieve that goal.

Color Management- Is it something you need?

If you provide us with a transparency or negative to print you won't need to worry about any of this, we will take care to print your image as you specify in your instructions to us. If you are providing us with a digital camera file to print we suggest white balancing your camera before you begin photographing. If your color or density is off we will make corrections when printing just like we do when printing from film.

If you want more control of your image and are concerned about accurate color then color management is for you.

Your Monitor

In order to achieve predictable color you will first need to calibrate your monitor. Calibrating is setting a monitor to a baseline or null point. You can use Photoshop's Adobe Gamma utility to do so or you may have a utility within the operating system you are using. When you calibrate you will be adjusting the brightness, contrast, color balance, gamma, and white point of your monitor. Calibrating you monitor with Adobe Gamma is a good starting point to your color-managed workflow. It is basically a "calibrate by eye" system. A much more accurate approach requires calibration hardware.

A calibration hardware package uses a tool to measure your monitor, and special profiling software. This profiling software characterizes how your monitor reproduces colors. Colors are displayed on your monitor and then are read with a photo spectrometer or colorimeter. The software then uses the data to build a profile. Luckily calibration packages have come down in price because it is a necessary tool for those who need accurate color.

The Room You Work In

An important issue that is often overlooked is the area in which you work. The color of the room and lighting all have an effect on what you see. Here are some suggestions:

  • Keep your blinds closed. Daylight changes in color throughout the day, so you will want to use a light source that is consistent.
  • Do not mix light types. Incandescent lights have a different color temperature than other lights such as fluorescents and halogen. Also, the bulbs themselves change color with age.
  • For viewing prints and transparencies use a 'daylight' balanced light source such as a lightbox or viewing booth with 'daylight' fluorescent tubes such as G.E. Chroma 50.
  • Gray is good. A brightly painted wall or even brightly colored clothes can alter your perception of color. The same goes for your computer desktop. The best choice for your computer desktop is gray. It is also a good idea to wear neutral clothing when making critical color adjustment.
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