11 Replies Latest reply on Jun 19, 2012 5:14 PM by Lundberg02

    Color Management Confusion-Photoshop and monitors


      Ok, so I am asking this question because I am literally at my wits end with this color management stuff. I have become so confused in the past few days that I can’t even think straight. Anyway, I am hoping you all can help me “understand” how it all work. Let me start with some background information (since I know it will probably be asked)

      1. am a photographer, I utilize Lightroom 4 and CS3 (I know its old but I am planning on getting CS6 soon).
      2. put my pictures on the web that I will assume will be viewed on multiple different browsers.
      3. also will be sending my pictures to print at mpix or whcc. I may decide to print my own but haven’t really made that determination at this point.
      4. have a mac book pro that I work from.


      Ok, so I need to get a monitor to work with but I am unsure if I should just buy the thunderbolt mac monitor or get a wide gamut monitor. I have heard so many people say that the wide gamut monitors just messed them up. Also, I am bit confused on the nature of monitor profiles and how they work with photoshop and lightroom. I would assume the monitor applies a profile at all times? I also don’t understand the existence of the prophoto and wide gamut profiles for the mac monitors… they clearly are not wide-gamut monitors, so how do these profiles exist for them, and why would they be useful (if you set the profile to prophoto for example, it is all washed out as expected). Are these profiles “assigning” a profile to the color? I am assuming so because if they were converting them to just a standard rgb then you wouldn’t have the faded colors (correct?).


      I just am so nervous that I am going to create something that looks great in Lightroom or Photoshop but that looks awful on the browser, or worse, on a different monitor (standard monitor) and I would have no idea that it looked bad. Or, if I send something to a printer only to get a mess back.


      Also, please let me know if I correct in this. If I am in photoshop and I have an untagged image (send via a friend), and lets just say it is really a prophoto image (although my friend didn’t tell me) and I say to assign the prophoto profile (upon import to photoshop). If that truly is the correct profile, the image should look correct. Now consider two scenarios from there: 1) I embed that profile in the image, if I upload that to the web (I know to be cautious, you should always use srgb for web), if the person has a color managed browser, the image would properly appear, because the browser would recognize the profile (in this case “prophoto”) and convert it to whatever it needed to be. But, if it was not a color managed browser, I run the risk that the web browser will just assign a profile, which will wash the photo out most likely, correct? Ok… and scenario 2) after I get the image from my friend and assign the prophoto profile (since that is the correct profile the image was actually created in, although it was untagged when it was sent to me), the image will look correct… BUT, is photoshop displaying the prophoto profile, or is it converting to RGB for my viewing, or is my monitor converting it to rgb for my viewing? I guess I just don’t understand how the monitor fits into all of this. You HAVE to use your monitor to see your images, and since most monitors (including my current one are standard gamut) it would make sense that you actually can’t see anything in the prophoto profile, and you are truly looking at an srgb profile since that is all your monitor can display.


      Oh ya, and what benefit is the color match rgb? It seems everyone speaks of the srgb, prophoto, and argb.. but never some of the others.. so maybe I am just lost. I would even appreciate a link to some tutorials if you think those would be helpful.


      I am seriously confused.. I would really appreciate the help.

        • 1. Re: Color Management Confusion-Photoshop and monitors
          Lundberg02 Level 3

          Whjat can you afford? Some Apple monitors are capable of Adobe 1998 gamut or nearly so. Thunderbird is not necessary. Your MacBook Pro screen is not good enough for photography. You haven't said whether you work in RAW, but I suppose you do. Open your images in ProPhoto to capture all the colors your presumably excellent camera takes.

          Ther is no reason to be afraid of wide gamut except for an empty checkbook.  Calibrate everything.

          You have a lot of studying to do. A wide gamut monitor is not really wide gamut unless it has a 12 bit LUT.

          • 2. Re: Color Management Confusion-Photoshop and monitors
            LindseyEP Level 1

            Well I would like to stay around the $1,000 range. I know that the macbook

            pro screen is not good enough for photography, that is why I am searching

            for something right now. I do work in raw. I have been researching, as I

            mentioned for the past 3-4 days actually and nothing from these forums or

            online has made anything seem more "clear" in relation to the questions I

            had above.

            • 3. Re: Color Management Confusion-Photoshop and monitors
              gator soup Level 4

              should just buy the thunderbolt mac monitor or get a wide gamut monitor.


              if you want the short answer, because you work on the Web on a thunderbird Macbook Pro MBP, go with the 'standard' gamut Apple thunderbird monitor (i believe no Apple branded monitors are wide gamut?)


              also, my 2011 MBP came with 4 GB ram (384mb video memory), I just installed an 8GB stick and my video memory shot up to 512mb in system profiler) -- point is max the Ram at 16gb ($200) for Photoshop if you can afford to


              if the MBP was my Photoshop workstation, I would also swap the DVD drive with a SSD and make that my scratch disk (use an external DVD) the extra ram and SSD scratch disk will speed Photoshop up considerably


              macsales.com is a great source for Ram, SSD, external DVD and technical support


              far as understanding how color managed apps like Photoshop, Lightroom, Safari use the monitor profile -- they adjust, or compensate, the source image to the monitor profile for a theoretical true-color display -- you may be better off reviewing previous threads on this subject...

              • 4. Re: Color Management Confusion-Photoshop and monitors

                I am not surprised you are confused about colour management because its a confusing subject. Luckily you own a Mac so you can get to grips with what the problems that colour management solves using the "colorSync Utility" and you will find this in Applications >> Utilities >> colorSync Utility. If you own a windows computer then I am sorry but you will be out of luck here and you should know better when you buy your next computer!! I am not sure why Apple gave us this application but it is really useful and all will help you understand Color Management.


                1. Launch Applications >> Utilities >> ColorSync Utility.


                2. You will see a list of "Installed ColorSync Profiles". Choose Adobe RGB 1998 which I hope you have chosen in you camera preferences.


                3.You will see a 3D representation of the Adobe 1998 Colour space. This represents all the colors this colour space will hold.


                4. Top left hand corner you will see a little arrow pointing down next to "Lab Plot". Click on this and a drop down menu will appear.

                    Choose "Hold For Comparison"


                5. Now somewhere in the "Installed ColorSync Profiles" list you will find the profile for you monitor. Choose this.


                6. You will now see a new colour space inside the Adobe 1998 Colour space. If you have a cheap monitor the colour space will be small

                inside the Adobe 1998 profile. This means that you monitor cannot show you all the colors that are missing.


                7. Now choose a printer profile say, if you use them a profile for an Epson paper or any printer profile you have and you will see another profile in the Adobe 1998 box which shows you the only colors that your printer can print. If you like choose your monitor profile then hold for comparison then the printer profile and it will clearly show the mis match between you monitor and printer.


                8. Now choose SRGB and this will show you what colors a person using an average Windows monitor can see, poor people.


                So this is the problem, all devises can reproduce only a certain range of colors. The adobe 1998 profile does not show all the colors our eyes can see " choose Generic Lab" profile, then "hold for comparison" then Adobe 1998 and you will see Adobe 1998 is a small profile but is a good average of our collective colour vision.


                So how to solve all these missing colour problems. Well if you think of each devise, including you camera as speaking a different language from you monitor and printer then it is easy to understand that you need some sort of translator so that they all know exactly what colour is being talked bout pixel by pixel in an image. This is held in the ICC profile, but an ICC profile has o do more than this.


                Say you camera can produce a specific red we will call for demo purposes "001" and your monitor cannot produce it, how do you solve this? Well it is very easy to fool our eyes. Our eyes work by comparison so if the profile maps red "001 to the nearest red that the monitor can show and then proportionally remaps all other reds to fit within the reds the monitor can show us then we actually think we are seeing a full range of reds. The problem comes if we use the wrong profile for this. The red 001 could be re mapped anywhere and could be outside what the monitor can show. Say that happens but the printer can reproduce that red 001. We would see an image on the monitor with not many reds and when we printed it we would be shocked to find reds on the print. Worst, we would see an image on the monitor without reds and would correct for this and end up with a print with heavy reds and would not be able to work out why.


                So to solve this we should:


                1. use the correct camera profile when we are opening "Raw" files.


                2. Make sure you have the correct monitor ICC profile selected in "System Preferences" >> Displays.


                3. In photoshop we should make sure that the " Edit >> colour settings " are set to Adobe 1998 for RGB.


                4. If you are going to print you own photo in Photoshop go to "View >> Proof Setup >> Custom" and a box will

                open. Choose the profile of your printer and paper and choose "Perceptual" for rendering intent and then " OK". If you cannot find

                a profile for you printer and paper go to the printer of paper manufactures web site and download the profiles and instal



                5. You can now adjust the colors and contrast and photoshop will simulate how the output devise will deal with this. If you

                are using an outside printing house, they will supply you with their ICC profile to download so just follow the same procedure and

                choose their ICC profile and and do you colour correction.


                If you have a cheap monitor you will still not get a 100% result but you will get closer. You really need a monitor that you can  calibrate

                regularly because generic ICC profiles are just that. They are made from the results of many monitors and so are 90% or worse accurate.


                If you want to see a flag ship monitor at work go to http://www.eizo.com/global/support/db/products/software/CG223W#tab02 and go

                to the bottom of the page and download the Eizo Coloredge CG223W monitor profile, instal it on your mac then open then ope

                Launch Applications >> Utilities >> ColorSync Utility choose Adobe 1998 the hold and compare it with the  Eizo Coloredge CG223W

                profile. This is not the top of the range Eizo monitors that we use but you will see that this monitor will show most of the missing colour you monitor does not. This is actually a good tip if you are buying a monitor. Download the monitors profile and see how good it really is.


                The weak link still is printing. The colors you see in RGB on a back lit RGB screen are very hard to reproduce by CYMK inks on paper. Here you really should have a profile made for your printer and chosen paper. If you don't want the expense of buying a calibrator and doing it yourself, there are on line services that will do this for you.


                One final point you must remember. If you are using soft proofing in Photoshop ( "View >> Proof Setup >> Custom" as explained above), when you print you MUST choose in "Colour Handling" "Photoshop Manages Colour" and in the next step when the printing box appears

                you will see a drop down box with "Layout" in it. Click on this and choose "Colour Management and choose "Off No Colour Management". If you do not do this Photoshop will manage the colour then the printer will do it again and the print will be a disaster.


                This is a starting point really. Colour management is difficult but just try to remember that you need a translator between each step in the process to make it work so you have to make sure the correct profiles are being used by you camera, the program you use for opening the Raw photo files (Please don't use jpegs straight from the camera, but thats another subject), the correct monitor profile and output profile. If you don't check these it is like chinese whispers and your picture will be printed in Double Dutch!!.


                Hope that helps. I am on location In Italy for a couple of months so will be unlikely to be able to reply to any questions for a while. Will try to check back and see how you are getting on. Drop me a line at office@funkystock.com if you have any questions. Good luck.


                Paul Williams

                • 5. Re: Color Management Confusion-Photoshop and monitors
                  funkyfood Level 1

                  PS One final point. The Mac Book Pro screen is not good enough on the model I have for colour management thats for sure.

                  • 6. Re: Color Management Confusion-Photoshop and monitors
                    funkyfood Level 1

                    Sorry a couple of final points. An untagged file is, exactly as its name suggest, a file to which no colour management profile has been attached or used to process it. this means that our imaginary red 001 is red 001 in an untagged file. if colour management profile for your monitor has been applied to a untagged (so it is no longer un-tagged) file then Red 001 will have remapped to say the nearest red the monitor can show which may be for this demo 004.


                    Untagged files are used to create ICC profiles. An untagged file is created with known absolute color patch values. If these are measured on a moitor the inaccuracy of the monior can be measured and all the colours re mapped to what the monitor can show. This is exactly how you make a printer profile. You print swatches of known colors without any colour management. You then measure the colour swatches and a clever bit of software does the maths and re maps the colours to their closest printable values and creates an ICC profile to do this to all images that use that print setup. In this way you create profiles for specific printers printing on different papers at different dpi. Each of these 3 factors change a colour when printed which is why external print companies will give you the correct profile for the paper you want them to print your photos on, as they have created profiles especially the printers and papers they are using.


                    Final, Final. I don't use lightrooms but check the colour settings and as it is part of the Adobe suit  you can should be able to sync the settings in photoshop.


                    Good luck. Paul

                    • 7. Re: Color Management Confusion-Photoshop and monitors
                      funkyfood Level 1

                      This really is my last point. Now  you can use colorsync utility, download the Apple Wide Gamut ICC profile or get someone to email it to you and use the ColorSync utility so see how wide its gamut really is, then you will know what monitor to buy, but sadly there is no cheap fix really but by comparing profiles you can get the best monitor for your budget.


                      The problems of color management are not new though. I always used colour balanced light boxes using internationally agreed color balanced tubes when I shot on transparency to be sure that the colour balances I corrected with filters on the camera were correct. We also had o train our eyes to how film saw the world and also to how our transparencies would print in the press.


                      That really is it from me I am getting attacked by some monster Mosquitos here in Tuscany so am going to take refuge.



                      Cheers Paul

                      • 8. Re: Color Management Confusion-Photoshop and monitors
                        funkyfood Level 1

                        PPS Sorrry about the "You" instead of "Your" in the posts, p'seems like a spell check has taken over somewhere!! Paul

                        • 9. Re: Color Management Confusion-Photoshop and monitors
                          funkyfood Level 1

                          I just read your post again. You must understand that you will never know how other people will see your photos on their monitors. You have no control over how they set up their system. You can only aim to benchmark your own system to the recognised standard and if you get your profiles right that is what will happen. Monitors are a nightmare for both colour and resolution. The same problem has always existed in domestic TV sets. Every TV production I ever made used professional monitors for final colour correction that cost over $60000. We colour correct TV commercils and documentaries to the agreed standards and it  makes me cry when I went around to friends houses and see how badly their TV's are setup. Just get the right profiles working and the jigsaw will start to fall into place but you will never be able to know how everyone will see your work or contro; how they see your work on their monitors. Cheers ( Ouch thats another Mozzy!!) Paul

                          • 10. Re: Color Management Confusion-Photoshop and monitors
                            Lundberg02 Level 3

                            Amen to that tv setup anecdote. I used to fix tvs for girls I was trying to impress and for others in need. I never saw one that was even close.

                            Excellent tutorial on ColorSync Utility!!!

                            • 11. Re: Color Management Confusion-Photoshop and monitors
                              Lundberg02 Level 3

                              Lindsey, wide gamut monitors can be wide but have terrible delta e if they're cheap, in other words the range of colors is nearly Adobe1998 but there are chunks missing inside. You can get one for a little more than 1k that has hardware calibration, a 12 bit LUT, meets or exceeds Adobe1998.  You should work on your images in Camera RAW, then convert to ProPhoto 16 bit for any additional in Photoshop, before converting to Adobe 1998 for output. The money, unfortunately, is in the printer. You should probably find a printing house that knows what they're doing.