Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Color Space In Black-And-White
What is a color space, which options are best to use, and how can you make your own custom profiles to get the most out of your chosen color space?
Once you’ve determined the color space that makes the most sense for your particular photographic workflow, you must be sure you’re properly putting that color space to use. When it comes to your digital camera, you don’t need to concern yourself with the color space setting if you’re capturing in RAW. The color space setting in your camera affects only JPEG or TIFF capture, since the color space doesn’t come into play for RAW capture until you convert the RAW capture to a digital image.
Adobe Lightroom utilizes ProPhoto RGB as the internal working space, and this setting can’t be changed (which serves as another endorsement of the ProPhoto RGB color space). However, you can select a different color space as the color space to be used when you use an external editor (the settings can be configured in the External Editing section of the Preferences dialog box) or when you export an image (in the File Settings section of the Export dialog box).
In Photoshop, you should configure the desired color space as the default working space in the Color Settings dialog box (Edit > Color Settings). In the Working Spaces section, set the RGB option to the desired color space. In most cases, I recommend you have images automatically converted to the working space (after all, if you chose it as the best option, it makes sense to use it consistently), so I set the RGB option under Color Management Policies to Convert to Working RGB. If you want to be notified of any situation where there’s a profile mismatch or missing profile, you can turn on the three check boxes at the bottom of the Color Management Policies check box. For RAW conversions with Photoshop, you also should be sure to set your desired color space in the Workflow Options dialog box ac-cessed from the link below the preview image in Adobe Camera Raw.
After determining the color space that represents the best fit for your specific workflow and configuring your software as appropriate, you can focus on optimizing your photographs with confidence that the color space you’re using is best suited to your photographic workflow.
Tim Grey has authored over a dozen books on digital photography and imaging, publishes the Digital Darkroom Quarterly print newsletter and speaks at a variety of events worldwide. Visit www.timgrey.com.
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