Why Color Management Matters
You can see here on Lightroom I have a color chart. That's defined colors. So this is a color chart, it's a really big one, and there's different sizes of color charts. So this is a color checker that's made by X-Rite, and it's a really large swath of colors. And we know exactly what each one of these colors represents. So we know exactly what kind of green that is, exactly what kind of green that is, what kind of red that is, what kind of purple that is. It's all defined scientifically. And so, if we have one of these and we take a picture of it, then, in theory, whatever color's on this, I should have in my computer. I should see it on my camera, and red should equal red. And then when I go to my computer, red should equal red when I'm looking at it on the monitor. And then when I print it out, red should equal red. In theory, correct? But how many times have you gone through the effort of printing something and you saw a blue sky, and it comes out magenta? Or it comes out greenish? ...
Right? Or you have this beautiful skin tone inside of your computer, you send it to your friend or your client, and they say, "this looks horrible, something's wrong" you know, "the skin colors are all green" or, "they're too dark" or, "they're too light." That's because you haven't scientifically calibrated the entire system. So, our goal here is to talk about color and how to make sure that we scientifically calibrate our system from very start to the very end of the process. Okay, and don't worry. The fact that I say it's scientific does not mean that you have to be a scientist. I am not good at science; I barely, barely passed my chemistry. (laughter) I did better at physics but not much better. I was horrible at math, so, and I can understand this stuff. So so can you. Alright? You ready? Okay so, first off, why does it even matter? Why does color matter? So, I'm gonna show you an image here; now this is an image that was taken with an iPhone. So, it doesn't matter what camera we're talking about, this is probably the worst camera that I can possibly have in my pocket. It's just my iPhone, little tiny, tiny camera. But I want you to look at the colors, the green of the grass, the blue of the umpire's shirt, the orange of the baseball team, and then I want you to look back at the sunset. And I'm gonna show you the difference, before and after, and I want you to see what happens to a photograph when the camera itself is calibrated. Alright? And this is an iPhone; you can calibrate an iPhone so that it's actually gonna display the correct color. This look fine, right? Looks fine. But I want you to see how much better it looks when I calibrate it. Are you ready? Watch closely, here we go. First, watch the sunset. Do you see how much more information came into the clouds? I'm going back. So, see how kinda ugly orange those clouds are right in the center where the heat of the sun is hitting them? And now watch what happens. Boom. See how it fills in with information? And it's no longer an ugly orange; it's actually more of a pink? It's prettier. Now, let's go back. So this is before calibration, I want you to look at the umpire's shirt. And now look at it. See how much more blue it is? So, I got a better orange, and I got a better blue. Now look at the grass. So we're going back, here's the grass. It's kind of a coolish look. And then when I calibrate, now, the grass looks more kind of a deeper blue maybe? A little bit richer grass? And, look at the dirt. The dirt's nice and cold before the calibration. After the calibration, it enjoys the warmth of the sun and the glow of that sunset. So, back and forth, everything gets better. The orange gets better, the green gets better. The brown gets better, the sunset gets better, the blue gets better. And even the shadows raise up; we get more detail on the shadows simply by using a camera calibration. Now this is the same photo. I'm using the same exact photo, and I'm showing you one, when it comes straight into Lightroom and uses whatever random calibration Adobe wants to assign to it. Or, I use one calibrated to the actual idiosyncrasies of the sensor in the iPhone. I think this is a 6s or something like that. That's it. All I have to do is define the color. I don't have to retake the image. I just have to define the color, and it will change everything about the way the photograph looks.