The Color Purple

Or is it?  In my last post I spoke a little about getting the colors correct when photographing architecture.  Color and more specifically color space can be a bit confusing and a bit daunting when trying to get things right.  As a photographer or artist I’m sure we’ve all experienced printing our final product only to find that the colors are, well, just not quite right.  Then going through and making corrections and reprinting and repeating until we either run out of paper or ink.  This is where color calibration and color space all come together. Let’s talk a bit about the different color spaces we deal with in today’s digital world.  As a photographer or artist in the modern world we must be aware of the different color spaces and their appropriate application.  For starters we have RGB, sRGB and CMYK.  Typically your monitor and printer work in the world of RGB (Usually Adobe RGB 1998.  But there is the slightly wider gamut Pro Photo RGB that a lot of photographers including myself like to work in.) sRGB is the gamut used on the web and is more limited than ProPhoto or RGB.  Some online printers use this as their colorspace of choice. (When using an online printing service it’s important to find out what color space they require your image to be in for accurate reproduction.)  It is very important that if you’re going to be displaying your images on the web that you use this color space.  Otherwise you are going to be very disappointed in the results.  Here’s a chart showing a comparison of the color spaces.

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You can see that ProPhoto gives us the widest gamut and CMYK (used for offset printing) gives us the smallest.  While the chart shows differences in the gamut, it can not show what happens say when you take an image that is in sRGB and try printing that on your RGB color space inkjet printer.   The system will, depending on your settings, try it’s best to match the colors that are outside the gamut and interpolate to the closest match it can find within the gamut of the device.  Other things happen though.  Saturation changes, distinct color shifts occur and contrast can be affected as well.  Making for a print that is nothing close to what we see on our monitor.  When working on delivering an image it is important that you either work in the that particular color space or do a comparison.  In Photoshop you can do this by going to View, then Proof Setup and selecting your destination color space.  Once you’ve done that you will see the shift that the delivery color space will cause.  You can set this up so that anything out of gamut will give you a warning directly on the image.  Meaning that the system will interpolate that color.  From there you can make the necessary corrections so that your image will render properly.  Or at least a version that you can live with.  Hope this helps a little.

A House. A Photographer. And Getting the Color Correct

In my last post I promised I would share some images from the shoot I did.  So here they are.  I’ve been trying some new techniques I’ve learned reading the Scott Hargis book and studying what Mike Kelley does.   I’m really liking the results.  Real estate photography is not as easy as most people think it is.  Dealing with wide dynamic range of dark interiors balanced against bright windows and sunshine is very tricky.  Making things look natural and not over lit by too much flash.  Getting the view out the window but not too much.  And most importantly capturing the essence of the space.  Along with all of this is the ability to render colors accurately.  I was the 3rd or 4th photographer to shoot this property.  While there the owner expressed to me her concern that none of the previous  photographers had reproduced the colors correctly.  They ranged from a soft peach in the entry to a deep almost brick red in dining room to a soft yellow in the kitchen.   Challenged accepted.  She later showed me brochure with some of the images from one of the other photographers.  Let’s just say they weren’t accurate and leave it at that.  I tried to explain to her that it might not be entirely the photographers fault.  That there are a lot of variables when printing an image and making sure that colors are rendered correctly.  All while trying not get too technical.  After this conversation I thought for a moment about what the client said.  That it was a problem with the photographer.  Not it was a problem with the printer or the photographer sent images in the wrong color space or the realtor had used the wrong version of the images.  No.  It was the photographer’s problem.  Perception is everything.

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