Color Accuracy at the Camera
How do I define color at the camera? That's our first task is to say, "How do we find color?" Now, the first thing, first things first. Color bit depth matters. How much color you have matters. How many crayons in the box that you're using matters. So, when I was a kid, all I had was eight. I just had the little box with the eight crayons in it, and I would go to school. 'Cause we had eight kids in my family, and so it's not like my mom could buy me a big one and everybody gets their own huge 90,000-crayon with the sharpener, right? And so I go to school with eight crayons, and then my friend next door has the whole box. And she's pulling out all the, and she can do flesh tones, and she can, and all I can do is lightly color brown hoping that my flesh tone is kinda close, you know? It just didn't work. So that's color bit depth in its basic form. How many crayons you have in your box. If you're shooting a JPG, instead of having this amount of crayons in your box, now I want you to look...
. See how beautiful this is, and look at the sun and all the transitions here? Now obviously, that's super super bright. But see how softly it transitions here? Now I want you to see what happens when you do a JPG of this same scenario. Do you see how these bands occur? It can't transition from the sun to the clouds to the darker clouds without going through these weird stripes and bands. And it gets worse as you manipulate the image. That's simply because this is an eight-crayon box, and this one is a 40,000-crayon box. So, if you shoot in raw, you will have far more latitude, not only in your exposures, but also in your colors. You'll have more information for your computer to work on. And this is actually an HDR, so it's not just a raw image, but it's a raw image on steroids because it's got more information. It's actually got three times the amount of information in it, so instead of like a 14-bit depth, it's actually a 32-bit depth. And it's just exponential. Every time you add one bit, it's exponentially better. So there's just a lot of tones here that you can't possibly get if you're shooting a JPG of the same scenario. Now this one is a normal shot. It's a raw image, but it's not an HDR. And you can see how much information you get in the shadows and in the highlights. I'm gonna turn off the shadow warnings there. You can see you get a ton of information all in the shadows here as well as way over here in the highlights, and everything has a really beautiful smooth transition because you have all that bit depth. So, to start off, the first thing you have to do is shoot with a camera that has good latitude and raw in order to really magnify what we're talking about here. If you're shooting JPGs, you might wanna rethink that before you start thinking about your color issues, because your color issues are coming partially from your JPG. All right, so that's our first issue that we have to deal with. Okay, so how do we get color at the camera? And the way we do that is we need to register the color. Now, I have this little thing here. It's called a color checker passport. And it's just this big, fits in the pocket. And it's a little baby version of this. You can see that they're pretty much the same idea. One just has more. So if you're shooting a professional shoot, you wanna make sure you have super accurate color. You can do a better job with this, but it's only better in the fact that it's even more accurate. This is sufficient for almost everything. This is just a little bit more accurate. So it's up to you which route you wanna go with. I choose this one because I can put it in my pocket and I can just register the colors any time I go into a strange situation where I have different light. And we're gonna talk about how you can calibrate your camera for general overall lighting throughout all situations, and we'll talk about doing it just for this situation. So in any given situation, I can register the colors simply by taking a picture of this. Making sure it's sharp, making sure it's correctly lit. Making sure that the light that I'm trying to register is hitting this. So if I'm worried about some cool light coming in from a window, I need to have the cool light hitting this color checker and take a picture of it. I can't put my camera over it and have the shadow of my camera be overshadowing this thing right? The color checker has to be seeing the light or bouncing the light that you're trying to register. Okay now what color- So we're making color profiles. Definitions. We're going to define our color right at the camera all the way through printing. Or through sending it to the web. Color profiles or color definitions, what they are not, is white balance. There's a difference. So let me show you the difference between white balance. So I'm showing you three images here. And those three images are white balanced for different things. So if you look in the first image on the left, you'll see that it is white balanced and it's white balanced for the light back in the background. So that is a tungsten bulb and I've white balanced it to look tungsten. So you can see that she's fairly warm, right? But she's not overly warm. If I then white balance- sorry, I'm sorry. The first one is actually white balanced for her. She looks fairly warm, the tungsten looks warm, but she's actually being lit by a fairly warm light too. If I go to the middle one, then I try to cool the background light down, that's tungsten so I white balance for that. See how the shade is actually fairly neutral? The wall has a bit of green in it because that's the color. It's a taupe wall. But notice that the light coming in from the window is what color now? It's blue. That's because that's daylight coming in. And also notice that her skin tones are quite bluish. Now if I go to the other, this one, I white balance for the window, for the blue light. And this is really warm and she's fairly warm. So there's three different colors of light coming into this scene. There's blue light from the window, there's very warm light from the incandescent bulb, and then there's kinda middle-of-the-road light lighting her up, which is actually a flash. So you can see that there are different white balances competing. So calibrating a camera is not about white balancing. White balancing is a picture by picture issue and a light by light issue. Different lights come in at different temperatures and your camera is going to see the differences between those temperatures and you have to choose which one is most important. Usually it's the one that's hitting the subject. If you want to adjust any of those particular things, you could put a gel on them. You could block them and relight them with some other colored light. Something like that. But don't think that because you took a picture of a color checker passport, because you're calibrating your camera, you don't have to pay attention to white balance. That's a whole separate issue. And that's just a picture by picture, is it warm light or a cool light that's coming in that window?