Difference Between Color Spaces


Color Management for Better Prints


Lesson Info

Difference Between Color Spaces

Color space is what defines the outer boundaries of the colors that can be displayed or collected. Beautiful shot. I didn't participate in this event so I don't know exactly what the context is, but it's really great. Really subtle colors here. This photo is a little bit more muted overall. There aren't a lot of vibrant reds, and greens, and yellows. In a photo like this, you don't necessarily need to utilize the full visual spectrum. You don't have to think about, "I need all of those greens and all of those reds." that color space that I'd be talking about would be the human visual spectrum of colors. Maybe this photo only requires a smaller set of colors. The smaller set of colors is what we call the sRGB color space. SRGB stands for standard, sRGB standard RGB. It was, let me think, 1996. It was created in '96 by some companies that you might have heard of, Hewlett-Packard and Microsoft. Back in the day, that's when computers were starting to come of age, and people were using them...

for graphic arts and photography. Microsoft makes software. What you see in the software, you wanted to be able to print out on those early HP printers. They needed to collaborate and make sure that what you see on the screen is what the same thing that the printer can produce. The brains, the color brains that those two companies got together and they said, "We're gonna make a color space, "and it's gonna be the standard color space for now." It's sRGB, all right. I'm gonna draw a quick little photo here, a picture. I'll draw it here on one of the papers that I wrinkled earlier in the day. Let's say that the human visual system, you can see that amount of color. I'm just making that up. This is kind of representative of a color space model. If anyone is at home, if you go to Wikipedia, and you enter "ProPhoto RGB" into the search at Wikipedia, it'll show you a CIE color graph. You'll see, "Oh, I understand what Mike's drawing now." Basically it shows you the reds, and the greens, and the blues and the cyans and the magentas and the yellows. So it's the RGBs and the CMYs and all that good stuff. Let's say that the human people, you can see that color. People, most people, unless you're colorblind, but you get the idea. Okay, sRGB sees about 37% of what humans can see. The sRGB color space, less than half... Probably drawing the triangle not quite big enough. Let's say that's sRGB. You can see the sRGB, at no time, shows you all the reds, or all the blues, or all the greens, or the yellows. Why would we ever use sRGB? The truth is, that a lot of printers just can't physically print out anything beyond the sRGB. There's no capability in those older printers or maybe even sometimes the earlier Fuji Frontiers, or the earlier... I don't remember all the names of them. Those earlier printers could not print anything beyond the sRGB. Let's imagine that we have a photo, like this one here, and we know that there's no colors in this photo that extend beyond sRGB space. You can edit in sRGB. In other words you can look at it in Lightroom in the sRGB or Photoshop, in sRGB, either one. Then you can send it out to maybe Costco or even your ink jet printer, and it's all gonna be within the capabilities of their devices, to produce all of those colors. Cool, so sRGB, global standard. We still use it today. If you print at the lab, I'm talking Costco and the other big box stores or even Walgreens or your local drug store, sRGB is where it's at, because that's really all they can produce. Now, let's talk about Adobe RGB. Adobe, so come along a few years later, Adobe, you know. Adobe's becoming more prominent in the industry. They're like, "You know, sRGB, we see that as a limitation." There's technology coming. Cameras can actually capture more than sRGB, or they will maybe in a few years. This was back in 1998. Printers are gonna be able to print out beyond. We see Epson coming on line. We see Canon printers coming on line. They're pushing the boundaries beyond sRGB. Let's create a new space and we'll call it Adobe RGB, conveniently, it's our business name. We're also gonna term it Adobe RGB. They defined a new color space and it's bigger than sRGB. For those of you who are on Wikipedia right now, you'll see, I don't remember exactly what that graph looks like, but something like this. This bigger one here, that's Adobe RGB. Adobe can display and collect about half of what a human can see. So, sRGB 37%, Adobe RGB about 50%. There we go. Adobe RGB, these inkjet printers that are in the room, they can actually produce most of the Adobe RGB color space. Some of the printers, in certain areas, can produce beyond, maybe like in the reds, or the greens, or the yellows. That's pretty cool. Let's say, and I just wanna show an actual, physical print. Let's go with Robert's Red Dress. You can help me hang that one up. Yep, should I take this one down? Just leave that one up. We'll do clippies and I'll do print, cool. So, this one, well most of that photo's black and white, which is just gray scale. It's just solid white to solid black. But, what about this dress? That dress is very red and there's a lot of fine detail in that red, that you may want to capture. Maybe some portions of this red are just outside of the sRGB color space. In that case, maybe you wanna edit that in a larger colors space so that you can maintain the detail in that red, the subtleties, and then when you print it out, if you print it out on a device that can print out Adobe RGB, you're gonna be fine. You're gonna be good to go. A lot of times photographers like to edit the photo in a bigger color space and then you soft proof to understand, am I going to clip those colors out? You're still gonna get a photo of red dress. It's still gonna be red. It's just like the red here, is gonna shift a little because it's outside of the sRGB thing. You're gonna get it red, but not quite the red that you really wanted. In your camera, I showed you in the previous class, how to select your color space from the menu system in your camera. In your camera, I recommend in general, collecting all the colors that you can. Why would you limit yourself? Why would you say, "No, I only want 37% of the visible colors"? No, you want all of the colors that you can get. Then you can make your decision later on about how much you actually print out. Next now, we go to ProPhoto RGB. ProPhoto RGB was 2011, and it was Kodak. Remember Kodak? They were the original kind of digital gurus. They actually created the first digital cameras. They were very prominent in the industry for digital. ProPhoto makes this color space. I know it's getting a little bit busy now. This hard triangle basically represents ProPhoto. I didn't draw it exactly right. ProPhoto contains 100% of all the colors that a human can see, plus some more that don't really exist. In some cases ProPhoto actually goes outside of the human ability to see colors. ProPhoto of course is looking to the future saying, "It won't be too long, "maybe we'll have laser integrated gas turbine "nuclear powered printers that can print out "all of these amazing colors." That day's probably coming, sooner than we want to admit. ProPhoto RGB allows basically all colors to be worked on and manipulated. One of the things we're gonna learn here in just a minute, is Lightroom. You don't get a choice what you see in Lightroom. When you're just working in Lightroom, it's all ProPhoto RGB, always all the time. What that means is, if you took your picture in sRGB on your camera, so at 37%, you're still gonna work in a space that's really big. All those colors are contained in ProPhoto. If you wanted to, you could take that red and you could drag it out into this red in ProPhoto space, and now that red actually exists, because you moved that red saturation slider way up there, cool. I know what you're all thinking, because I thought this, "Oh, ProPhoto, I'm gonna stay in ProPhoto all the time, "because ProPhoto is where it's at, "I'm not losing any color data." Oh, shoot, we gotta come back to that device thing. Even though technically I'm working in ProPhoto, what about that computer? Can that computer monitor show me that red? Uh-uh, most computer monitors, like a laptop, especially, they're ever so slightly larger than sRGB. What the computer monitor can actually physically show, with photons coming out of that thing, is just a little bit bigger than sRGB. If you spend a little bit of money on a nice monitor, maybe from Iso, Dell, NEC, Hewlett-Packard even. Some of these guys sell nice monitors. When I say "nice monitor" I'm not talking about the difference between a $179 monitor and a $199 monitor, I'm talking, you're gonna spend $1000, or $2000 a monitor. Once you get up to that level, now these monitors are starting to show Adobe RGB. Just now, at this day and age, we're a number of years on from all these color space definitions, just now we're able to actually see on a monitor this color. Even though you can shoot it in Adobe and edit in ProPhoto, doesn't mean you can actually see the colors that you've created.

Class Description

Knowing how to control and see color is essential in making quality prints. Mike Hagen will walk through the entire color process for getting prints to look the way you envisioned. He'll discuss the techniques for calibrating your monitor, color management and color space.


Cheryl Tarr

I enjoyed watching this. Mike is an engaging instructor. Very clear and easy to follow. I was somewhat familiar with the various color spaces but this solidified my understanding. I now have some 'next steps' to improve my printing, thank you!