Camera Profiles and Colour Correction

When you’re shooting RAW images with an expensive DSLR and processing your images in Lightroom 3 (which is much better than LR2 which I loved) you’d think the colours that come out of the camera should be right on target. Right?

Well be prepared for a surprise. Michael Frye (on right) has an excellent short video called Camera Calibration and Profiles that shows how to pick the best preset colour calibration for your camera. Michael also shows you how to create your own custom profiles using a X-Rite Photo Colorchecker.

Here’s a bonus: On the X-rite site there’s a video that features one of my favourite pro photographers Rick Sammon (photo below) who talks about how he calibrates his cameras, monitors and printers and, what’s most important, he shows you how to shoot HDR images and why. Rick talks about how we all see colour differently. He even claims that drinking alcohol or even coffee can affect the way we see colour. OMG I’ve got to stop printing after drinking a pot of coffee 🙂

BTW I don’t use a X-Rite ColorMunki although if they want to send me one I sure wouldn’t complain. Guarantee a fair and honest appraisal. 🙂  But my point is this: Calibrate at least your monitor and if you want to be really spot on calibrate your camera, your monitor and your printer to get absolutely consistent colours in your photographic process. Without at least calibrating your monitor, you’ll have no idea what your final image will look like until you print it. And trust me on this, you can spend more on test prints over time than a calibration device would have cost in the first place.

Look if all you’re shooting is JPGs of special events or the kids on vacation then you’re accepting the colours that you get from the camera and printer and there’s nothing wrong with that. But if you’re shooting fine art photography or high-end (read expensive) wedding photography then you are shooting RAW and the rule book on colours goes out the window. Doing your own calibration allows you to set your own rules that you can apply over and over again.

Don’t believe me? Watch Michael’s video where he applies his custom profiles on the landscape shot at dusk. Notice what happens to the greens in the image. Without a custom calibration of his equipment I don’t think he’d even be aware that those shades of green were possible. Very cool.

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