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  • Color Management: Newbie Question

    I have been doing a lot of reading about color management and still don't feel like I've got it all quite figured out. The bottom line is that I have processed images that I am happy with and want to have printed. The problem is that these images lack the same "punch" (vibrancy, contrast) when viewed on a different computer. My question is: how do I ensure that what is printed is the vibrant image rather than the bland one?

    Here is what I think I am supposed to do (this is where I'd appreciate help, pointers, correction, etc.):

    1. From the recent reading I've done, I realize that I need to calibrate my monitor
    2. Depending on how that goes, I suspect I may have to re-process the images to get them back to where I want them
    3. Then I need to save the image and embed the monitor profile

    At this point I am confused because the service where I want to have prints made provides the ICC profile for the printer/paper. How does this help me? Is it only useful for Photoshop users that have the ability to soft proof? I am using Elements 4.0 and so I'm not sure if I'm supposed to be using the printer ICC profile for something.

    I apologize if this is a topic that has been dealt with before - I'd appreciate a link to the thread. FYI: besides reading various internet resources (e.g. and this site), I've also read the relevant chapters in "The Hidden Power...".

    Thanks in advance for the help!

  • #2
    Re: Newbie Question

    Tennant, welcome to RetouchPro. I have not looked at Elements for a couple of years but I seem to recall that it only allowed you to work with two color spaces - AdobeRGB and sRGB (Image>Convert Color Profile>Apply sRGB (Apply AdobeRGB)). If that is still the case, then you are at somewhat of a disadvantage.
    While there are custom precise profiles supplied by commercial labs and Drycreek (for example they support all the Noritsu printers at Costco Labs), you will not be able to use them unless Elements allows you to convert your image to that profile. However, these custom profiles are reasonably close to sRGB.
    Most of the color labs have equipment which assumes that the user will supply images which have been processed in sRGB. If you send them an sRGB file your prints will usually look close to those on your calibrated monitor. Never use Monitor Profile.
    If you want more precise color control you need to upgrade to the full Photoshop program or have someone you know who has PS do the profile conversion for you.
    Regardless of which color space you edited the image, you do not need to re-edit it. Converting it to another color space and embedding that profile is all you need to do.
    If you would like to learn more about the subject of Color Management try the following link:
    Regards, Murray


    • #3
      Re: Newbie Question

      I agree with Murray... probably time to think about upgrading.

      A few other thoughts:
      - if you have never calibrated your monitor, and simply tweaked it by hand to get some vibrant color out of it... then yes, you may need to re-process your images a bit after calibrating your monitor. Reason being, you may have seen vibrant colors on screen, thought your image was going to be vibrant, only to find out it is not in print. You sort of faked yourself out by tweaking the monitor, causing you to perform less processing of the image, leaving it flatter than intended. When printed, it looked flat because you simply did not process it on a calibrated screen.
      - When you save the image, you don't embed the monitor profile. It's a tricky subject, but here is the general rule. Save one copy with your working space (AdobeRGB) embedded. Open a copy, convert to the labs' printer profile (see below). Examine the colors, re-tweak as needed, save that copy as the one you will send to the printer.
      - Call the location you'll be printing at. Ask what manufacturer of printer they use, i.e Noritsu and Fuji are most common at places like Costco, Walmart, Target. (Wolf camera and similar camera shops will do the conversions for you.) Then go to a sight (like Drycreek Photo) and download the printer profiles for both matte and gloss paper for those printers. Use the proper profile when converting, proofing and sending off.


      • #4
        Re: Newbie Question

        Thanks for the replies! Very helpful.

        Assuming I upgrade to PS, I would be interested in hearing about the workflow people utilize for color management, from camera to print.


        • #5
          Re: Newbie Question

          Tennant, if you are looking to upgrade consider waiting a few weeks. It is rumored that Photoshop CS5 is very close to being released. However as far as color management goes, you will be as well off with any of the CS versions. Let us know after you have taken the leap.
          Regards, Murray


          • #6
            Re: Newbie Question

            Originally posted by tennant View Post
            ...I would be interested in hearing about the workflow people utilize for color management, from camera to print.
            Unfortunately, that requires a book ... fortunately, there are plenty on color management. It sort of depends on how technical you are, how deep you want to get into the subject.

            One of the more technical books is "Real World Color Management" (Second Edition), via PeachPit Press, written by Bruce Fracier, Chris Murphy and Fred Bunting. It covers way more than the average person can ever remember... so read it twice. Here's a glimpse: Real World Color Management - table of contents


            • #7
              Re: Newbie Question

              Tennant: It sounds as though you and I got started the same way. I started with PhotoShop Elements 2, but eventually had to upscale to Photoshop CS3 to do the things I wanted to do.
              As for color management, I can't say that I fully understand it even now, but see my post in the thread "Setting on color adjustment menu" where I recommend reading what Ben Willmore has to say about color management. He devotes a full chapter to it in his books "PhotoShop CSX Studio Techniques". His explanations are understandable and make sense. Good luck.


              • #8
                Re: Newbie Question

                Useful reading for color management in Elements:

                Soft proofing in Elements: see the Elements+ add-on.


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