Using ICC Profiles

ICC profiles define a meaning for the numbers used to represent colors in digital images. Without an ICC profile digital files will produce unpredictable and inconsistent results.
As a rule, always use ICC profiles. There are a few rules for using ICC profiles. Always assign ICC profiles (the correct ICC profile) when you create a digital file. Always use ICC profiles when converting digital files from one color space to another. Never remove an ICC profile from a digital file without replacing it. Use accurate high quality ICC profiles. While there are exceptions to these rules, they’re rarely encountered.
Here’s one of the single most confusing things about color management. The same numbers in different color spaces produce different colors. Why? Because while RGB color spaces (including the standard device neutral editing spaces sRGB, Colormatch, Adobe 1998, ProPhoto) all use the same numbers from 0–255 to describe color, each color space is capable of different things. For instance, wider gamut color spaces are able to represent more saturated colors. The numbers used to produce the most saturated red (255/0/0) will produce a more saturated red in a wider gamut color space than they will in a smaller gamut color space. So the same numbers in different color spaces produce different results.
Here’s another way of saying the same thing: Change to stay the same. Use ICC profiles to define a source and destination so you can change numbers precisely to make sure colors stay the same. Once you know what numbers you need to produce the same color in two different color spaces (like a monitor and a printer), you can precisely change the numbers to produce the same color appearance as you move a digital image from one color space to another. If you don’t change the numbers, the appearance of the colors will change when you move a digital image from one device/color space to another.
Some change is inevitable when moving from a larger color space to a smaller gamut color space and ICC profiles can be used to predict how color will change. They can be used to show you what must change and can’t be restored (out of gamut colors) and what will change and can be restored (in gamut colors). While you won’t gain color quality when converting from smaller gamut spaces to larger gamut color spaces, you’ll lose a tiny bit of data, which if done a number of times can degrade an image. So, keep color conversions to a minimum. (Optimally, convert once when you acquire an image; a second temporary conversion will be made while you print an image).
Use ICC profiles. ICC profiles are recipes for color that clearly define numbers making color consistent and predictable. They’re the foundation for working with color in digital imaging.
How important is this?
See what can happen below if you don’t use ICC profiles correctly.
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6 Simple Steps To Good Color Management

Color management is rocket science. But you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to drive the rocket. Instead, be an astronaut. With a few simple steps you can achieve consistent, high quality color with your images every time.
These are the six simple steps to good color management.
1 – Make Profiled Conversions
Assign an ICC profile to all image files either during Raw conversion or scanning. Use appropriate profiles to make conversions into other color spaces with derivative files only. Minimize the number of conversions made.
2 – Calibrate Your Monitor Using Hardware
Once a month, use a colorimeter to build an ICC profile for your monitor. Minimize the influence of other light sources during characterization. Use the colorimeter’s software to help you set monitor brightness between 90 and 100 and choose White Point D65 and Gamma 2.2. Check the results with know target images afterwards.
3 – Set Good Photoshop Color Settings
In Photoshop’s Color Settings (in the Edit Menu) Set Color Management Policies to Preserve Embedded Profiles and Ask When Opening / Pasting. And, choose a wide gamut device neutral editing space. Start with North American Prepress Defaults and then change RGB to ProPhoto RGB.
4 – Softproof
Simulate the appearance of a print before printing. Go to View : Proof Setup : Custom and choose the profile you intend to print with. Check Simulate Paper Color and choose a rendering intent of either Perceptual or Relative Colorimetric. Make output specific adjustments before printing. Use these adjust- ments only when printing these media.
5 – Navigate Your Printer Driver Correctly
Use Photoshop / Lightroom or your printer driver to manage color – not both. In general, favor using Photoshop/Lightroom as this is the most versatile allowing you to use custom output profiles.
6 – Control Your Environment
Edit and evaluate your images in neutral surround- ings. Minimize the effect of extraneous light sources, such as glare on monitors or backlighting. Evaluate proofs and prints in appropriate lighting.
There’s much more that can be said about each of these topics – but, not much more to do. Take these steps and you’ll be well on your way to achieving consistent, high quality results with your images.
Read more with my color management ebooks.
View more in my color management DVD.
Learn more in my digital photography and digital printing workshops.

Evaluate Your Monitors' Performance – X-Rite i1Photo Pro

Now there’s a quick and easy way to evaluate what your monitor can do with the Q&A functions in X-Rite’s latest version of i1Photo Pro. Calibrating and profiling your monitor is the first step.  After that, you can identify which colors are displaying well and which have issues. You can use this information to identify the your best monitor for critical color work and even when it’s time to replace a monitor.
Read more in my digital photography ebooks here.
Learn more in my digital printing and digital photography workshops here.

X-Rite i1Photo Pro

“The long awaited day is here!  X-Rite i1 Professional solutions, which includes the new i1Photo Pro, are now available. Each solution features the all-new i1Profiler software application designed to delivers superior color results!  i1Profiler is driven by a new color engine, sports a dual mode interface (basic and advanced) and new quality assurance features, plus so much more. The new i1Photo Pro was designed specifically for discerning photographers to attain the highest quality color results and color control throughout your complex digital photo workflow, at a very attractive price.
The new portfolio is comprised of three software/hardware/target bundles ­– i1Basic Pro, i1Photo Pro, i1Publish Pro – and i1Publish, a software/target solution. All four feature groundbreaking new i1Profiler software technology designed to accommodate all levels of proficiency and expertise, and provide the power and control needed to create the highest quality color profiles. The new PANTONE Color Manager color swatch bridging software,  ColorChecker Proof, a new ColorChecker target for direct viewing analysis against a printed target and ColorChecker camera calibration system are also featured.
Upgrade packages are available for those who have i1Pro devices as well as MonacoPROFILER 4 and ProfileMaker 5 users. Read more about the upgrade opportunities and review the features of i1Profiler software at”
The advances in software make every function more precise.
Printer profiling takes a major leap forward with easy to make light temperature and image specific profiles.
If you haven’t invested in X-Rite technology do it now.
If you have, upgrade now.
This is a major upgrade that all users should seriously consider.
Find out more about i1Photo Pro here.
View more in my DVD 6 Simple Steps to Good Color Management.
Learn more in my digital printing and digital photography workshops here.

Epson Advanced B&W Photo

Black and white printing presents several significant challenges; the ability to produce a neutral color, the ability to maintain that neutral appearance under different light sources (reduced metamerism), the ability to attain graybalance (consistent color throughout the entire tonal scale); the ability to achieve a very dark black (high dmax) without sacrificing shadow detail (low dot gain), and longevity. All of these things are now easily attainable.
Black and white inkjet printing has come of age. In past years, there have been many compelling solutions for making black and white prints with inkjet technology; some have been fraught with problems (third party quadtone ink sets clog easily) and others have been expensive (ColorByte's ImagePrint RIP). Today, superior quality inkjet printing is both affordable and easily achieved.

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Navigating The Epson Printer Driver With Photoshop

Successfully managing color for digital printing requires that the color in an image file be converted from its device neutral color space to a device specific color space. (Typically this occurs by converting from Adobe RGB 1998 or Pro Photo RGB  to a device specific color space defined by an ICC profile characterizing a specific combination of printer, ink, paper, and driver.)
Using Photoshop, you can either convert color in an image before you send it to a printer driver or after you send it to a printer driver.
Choose one method of color management – not two. Easily made, a classic mistake is using both. Double color management typically results in a print that is too light and magenta.
The Epson printer driver provides many ways to manage color conversions and get reasonably good color. Two methods offer the best results; the Photoshop route and the Epson route.
How do you do you choose either of these methods?
Let Photoshop’s Print window (under Color Handling) guide you – Let Photoshop Determine Colors and Let Printer Determine Colors. (While the principle is the same for most printers, interfaces will vary. Here’s information for the most current Epson interface.)
If you choose Let Photoshop Determine Colors under Color Handling, select a profile for Photoshop to make the conversion with (a paper/ink/driver specific profile not the interface default of Working RGB) under Printer Profile, choose a Rendering Intent of either Relative Colorimetric or Perceptual, and then click Print Settings. In the Print window choose the correct Printer and then change Copies and Pages to Print Settings. Select the correct Media Type, uncheck High Speed, and choose the highest printer resolution available. Finally change Print Settings to Color Management and select Off (No Color Adjustment). The Photoshop route turns Photoshop’s color conversion on and turns the printer’s color conversion off.
The Photoshop route tends to hold slightly more saturation but it’s rendition of neutral colors and gray balance is usually not as good as the Epson route. The Photoshop route is the route to take when you want to use a custom profile. Use it if you are printing with either third party inks or papers which require the use a custom profile to accurately describe the behavior of the alternate media.
If you choose Let Printer Determine Colors under Color Handling, choose a Rendering Intent of either Relative Colorimetric or Perceptual, and then click Print Settings. In the Print window choose the correct Printer. Change Copies and Pages to Print Settings to select the correct Media Type, uncheck High Speed, and choose the highest printer resolution available. Finally change Print Settings to Color Management , choose EPSON Standard (sRGB) under Mode, and select Color Controls. The Epson route turns Photoshop’s color conversion off and turns the printer’s color conversion on.
The Epson route tends to deliver significantly improved rendition of neutral colors and gray balance with slightly less saturation. Try it when printing neutral colors. Use the Epson driver’s Advanced B&W Photo feature for black and white images.
Each route works well. Each route yields slightly different results. Test them to see the differences. (Note that you cannot see the differences between printing routes when softproofing; you have to make physical proofs to see these differences. They can significant.)
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