A few too many words on color management (for every endeavor there is some necessary but boring bits)


To view more of my photography please visit www.rakmilphotography.com and feel free to leave comments

In an earlier piece I wrote that all computers must be color managed. The fact is that out of the box your monitor has not been calibrated for your needs.

Very high-end monitors come with hardware and software to calibrate the color management; some even have hoods to block out ambient light. For lesser priced monitors that most of us buy, including IMACs, relying on your operating system to manage the color will not work.

If all you intend to do is publish to the web I would suggest Googling color management on browsers. The people who look at your work probably have not considered how their browsers work and you at least need to take the steps to make sure your work is at its best, regardless of your audience’s choice of browser, not make it worse. If you intend to print your photos, you are more than likely going to find it frustrating if you do not have color management hardware and software.

There are many manufacturers of color management technology, many of them very good. In my view, Coloreyes Display pro has some big advantages (especially for IMACs). The software provides a walkthrough, great support and enough options to please anyone. What this does is set you up to do a regular monthly checkup of your monitor, they age and things change rather more rapidly than we would like.

You may still have problems printing and the usual complaint is “my prints are too dark”. The answer is that your monitor is too bright.  Color management software can help, but the ambient light at your desktop is also a big factor, and sometimes reflections off colored walls. I bought a special “daylight” lamp for my workspace that helped a great deal. Some software/hardware solutions monitor the ambient light and adjust your monitor accordingly, at the expense of a USB port.

The significantly more expensive route is to also use a color target when you shoot, and buy special hardware and software to create your own printer profiles for all the different kinds of paper you intend to print with. I would not go that far unless you are shooting products that need to be an exact color.

Assuming that even after you calibrate your monitor you still have printing problems. The simplest thing is to buy or borrow a properly printed target with a digital copy, print that digital target and compare the print to the digital one on your. However, nothing will or can be perfect a near match is great is good as it gets for most set-ups.

How did I learn all of this, I asked questions on-line and I was amazed at the famous people who responded and helped and gave me the support I needed. There are lots of forums, like those for Adobe where you will get all the help you need and more!

I know people who tell me this is all nuts, and that they never need this (including camera store guys). There may be lucky people whose photographs look the same on all browsers and every print is perfect (maybe they send them out to professional printers who know how to fix this). I had problems, I found a solution and I am sharing it.

Digital photography is expensive when done right. Your photographs deserve to be handled the right way.

7 responses

  1. I am interested in your use of a special daylight lamp. Is that a particular style/brand of lamp or are you referring to the temperature of light emitted by the globe? I do colour management as you have mentioned, including recalibrating my monitor every couple of weeks.


    March 20, 2013 at 6:28 am

    • Now we have florescent daylight bulbs, they may work, but years ago i bought a Solux lamp.


      March 20, 2013 at 8:46 am

  2. Some excellent advice Victor – thanks


    March 20, 2013 at 7:24 am

  3. good advice. i’m taking a course in print making and this issue is one of the topics. the solux bulb, monitor brightness, working environment and color management are issues that have been discussed. until we go about making these adjustments for our own purposes, though, i find it’s difficult to pay attention. plant a seed – some day it will grow.


    March 20, 2013 at 9:21 am

  4. Helpful post. That is a difficult area to get working properly.


    March 20, 2013 at 2:01 pm

  5. leo brady



    March 21, 2013 at 9:33 am

  6. Beautiful photo of the butterflies.


    March 21, 2013 at 9:06 pm

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