Sunday, June 14, 2009

Getting the Best Color

A few things to do in order to capture the best color:

1. Shoot in RAW mode.
2. Set the color setting on your camera to Adobe RGB.
3. Set the color setting in Photoshop to Adobe RGB.

Why shoot in RAW? Really, there are so many reasons, I think I teared up when I realized how many pictures I love were shot in JPEG. You live and you learn.

JPEG is a compressed file format, it' size = 8 bits. This means you only get 256 color combinations. If you're not going to retouch your photos or enlarge them too much, this works perfectly fine. NOTE: Since a JPEG file is a compressed file format, each time you make a change and close your file ... it's compressing. You're therefore losing quality each time.

A RAW file is a non-compressed file, as are TIFF and PSD files. It's size = 16 bits. (in theory it's 16 bits, the companies have stated this number for compatibility between all products, in reality all cameras offer somewhere between 12 and 14 bits). With RAW you'll get approximately 16 million color combinations, hues and shades. In essence, you'll be able to capture more accurately what the eye can see.

Having such a wide variety of combinations also allows you to adjust hue, saturation etc. without too much distortion or loss of quality.

As for setting your camera and photoshop to Adobe RGB, this gives you a wider color gamut, giving you more color selection. Most cameras and Photoshop are normally set to sRGB mode, which is fine but if you're shooting in RAW you'll want to take advantage of a larger color gamut.

Also, when printing, keep in mind that printers work in the CMYK mode. CMYK is not capable of capturing luminosity, colors, hues, shades created by the light (which by working with the above modes you'll capture nicely). When converted to CMYK you may loose some luminosity, you can see it in Photoshop by clicking on VIEW ----> PROOF COLORS & GAMUT WARNING. Whatever will not print correctly will show as gray, you can then adjust accordingly.

NOTE: If you shoot in RAW, you'll need to install the appropriate Camera Raw Plug-In for your Photoshop. You can get it for free at

Also, you'll be working in either TIFF or PSD, when done and if you want a JPEG version. You'll need to save a new file in 8 bit mode and then save as JPEG.

A final note, it's also important to calibrat your computer monitor, a calibrator can be bought at any computer store, I think. I'm still missing this step but thankfully the school has one I can borrow. It's on my "to-do" list for the coming week.

The day after I learned about color gamuts and modes I was antsy to test it out. Thankfully I was headed out to the country for some games of Paintball and BBQ:

Until the next lesson.

1 comment: