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Color Management

Lesson 6 from: How to Photograph and Flatter Skin Tones

Lindsay Adler

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Lesson Info

6. Color Management

Next Lesson: Exposure

Lesson Info

Color Management

We talked a bit about color, right? So I said white balance, and then we talked a little bit in the previous example about having your camera settings correct, but a little more technical-ish thing is your color management. Which basically means, maybe you captured the correct white balance, you've got it right in camera, but something was off either in your settings in your computer, or in the way you printed. Something along the way, if you haven't thought about color management, you could've gotten skin right in the first place, but then it doesn't end up right in the print. And so, there are full classes on things like color management, it's much more in depth, but it's, think about it, you actually have to take these steps. And so, color management is color consistency and control in different devices. And so I usually think of it is the camera side, so first of all, are you capturing with a RAW file? And are you getting a picture of that color checker or the gray card? So that's ...

your camera side. And then you get to the computer side. So what are you editing in? Are you editing that RAW file, are you editing it 16 bit RGB, and how are you viewing it? What monitor are you viewing it on, and is it a color calibrated monitor? 'Cause if that's off, now that's off, and then the last part is the printing part. So when you were editing, were you looking at how it would look in the print, and there's something called ICC color profiles that basically says, okay, when you're printed on this paper, this is how your color and your contrast and all that shifts. And so there's a way to proof in the middle, again in the computer side to take a look at these things and adjust for the print. But at any one of these points, if you mess up, the skin looks bad. So you gotta think about all of it. And so right, camera calibration, white balance, then you have to have your monitor and your color profiles, and then your printed paper says ICC color profiles. Again this is a much longer conversation, but the first part you just have to color calibrate your monitor, there's not much I can say, is you gotta buy or borrow at least one of these, and there's different price points for different things they do. I think the less expensive but still really good one on here is the ColorMunki, and what it does is you put it onto your monitor, and it's got a little eye, it's got a little lens there, and what it does is it flashes different colors on the screen, but the little eye is reading these and making sure it's the right colors. And so when it's all said and done, it'll make the profile for your screen so that it's actually showing the colors it was supposed to if it wasn't. It's not super complicated, all these companies they've got programs that walk you through so you just hit next, next, install. It's not like you have to know math behind it or anything, so it makes it pretty easy. Some of these are much more advanced where you can actually do custom calibrations based on your printer and you can use some of these and monitor what your print looks like. I mean, this one's gonna be fine, one of the less expensive color calibration systems still works great. So I see this happen often, if you are shooting with a $3,500 camera, you bought the 5D Mark IV, or whatever it is, and then you got the brand new super sexy lens, $2,200, and then you have a $200 monitor, and the problem is you're looking at your files without the right color, without the right detail, without the right contrast. It's just, you're lookin' at a lesser version of itself. So it's not that you need to spend a ton of money on monitors, but do a little research based on your budget, what is a better monitor? There are a lot of good brands out there, so BenQ's one of them, Eizo's one of them, but that takes you kind of the higher range of them. If you're going for an Eizo, they're a couple thousand. So it doesn't have to be a couple thousand, but at least do your research. The next one I had mentioned down the line was your ICC color profiles, and basically it's how your image will appear in a certain printer-paper combination, because it has to be specifically for that printer and that paper, and so you can get usually from the paper manufacturer or sometimes through the printer, what that combination is. And so you install it, and then you can actually view it and install it so you view it either in Lightroom as a proof, a soft proof, or in Photoshop. And basically it says okay, I've retouched my whole photo, looks great, show me how it's gonna look when I print it with my Pro1000 printer, with the Hahnemuhle Baryta paper, okay? And it shows you. And then you can make changes if you need, 'cause sometimes these paper darken things down a little bit. 'Cause on our monitor, you're viewing things that are back lit. Paper is not back lit anymore, and so typically, that's one of the most common problems I see is people look at their print and it's darker than they expected. It's 'cause you're viewin' it in different ways, back lit or on paper, so that gives you a little closer idea to lighten or darken down, and then also the color shift. Because sometimes that paper, like glossy paper's gonna show a really rich, vibrant red, but a matte isn't? So for me, I wanna see, I wanna try this matte paper, oh, that red looks terrible, it tells me before I waste my time, and then I can tweak the colors if I want for a certain paper. So this is actually things, you can install these color profiles and actually view them in Lightroom or Photoshop. There's something called soft proofing, and that's what I'm talking about. So you put in device to simulate, and you say, okay, it's gonna be this printer with this paper, and then there's something called rendering intent, this is in my skin class, this is more in depth than we have for an hour and a half. But you have to know which one you want, and it'll give you a proof of it, Lightroom or Photoshop. So if you don't like Photoshop, it'll also do it in Lightroom. When you work with labs, what they usually let you do is they let you test prints, and so they let you see how the image that you're seeing on your screen, how it translates to what they have. Some of them will give you actual ICC color profiles so you can soft proof things, others don't. What you're supposed to do is take a selection of images that represent the types of tones and colors you usually shoot, and they usually do this for free or very inexpensive, and they'll give you a range of prints on a couple different types of paper, and then you can see, okay the skin tones aren't as warm on my screen when I'm on this paper. So there are ways to work with a lab to do this and there are ways to proof with a lab even if you're not printing yourself.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Skin Tones Keynote

Ratings and Reviews

Amy Vaughn

The topic is too big to cover all the solutions in depth in such a short amount of time, but this seems like a great overview for beginners to understand the range of problems with making skin look good in photos. Lindsay does a great job of making her class topics easy to understand.

Frank Gutierrez

I just love Lindsay's work! It's so impressive; especially the sampling photos captured of the elderly gentleman. It brought all she taught throughout the video together seamlessly! I'm so going to watch this over and over again!


Great primer on skin tones, lighting, and considerations for different types of skin. One of the few teachers that discusses dark skin tones!

Student Work