Why are the colors in the photo distorted after uploading to the Internet? How to get beautiful pictures when printing, creating a photo book? What to do if colors look rich and bright on your professional monitor, but dull and dirty on the client’s gadget? All these problems can be solved if the color space is correctly adjusted during shooting or in post-processing.
For photographers, the most important color spaces are sRGB and Adobe RGB. We tell you what it is, how they differ and which one to choose.
What is color space and color model
A color space is a “translator” built into monitors, printers, cameras, and phones that allows devices to read and display colors correctly.
To simplify, for example, in the RGB color space there are three numbers: R — 255, G — 0, B — 0. For you, this is just a set of letters and numbers, and a graphics editor or phone will translate these values into color and show you rich red. Each pixel in the photo has its own set of such numbers and, accordingly, its own color, which the color profile decodes.
It turns out that the color seems to be a point in the coordinate system. You poke here — there is blue, in another place — pink, in the third — green. But not everything is so simple. Then all devices would have the same settings and the colors would look absolutely identical. Sounds great, but unrealistic.
Unfortunately we have different coordinate systems with slightly different color sets. They are called color models or color profiles.
A color model is a mathematical description of colors. They contain the principle of what color, with what brightness, saturation and how exactly it will be displayed. This is necessary so that the color on different media looks as similar as possible.
The most famous color models:
- RGB. The most common color profile. In it, colors are formed from a combination of three colors: red ®, green (G) and blue (B). The complete absence of these colors gives black, and the sum of all three gives white. This color model in one form or another is built into all phones, monitors, and cameras.
- CMYK. The model is based on a mixture of four colors (printing inks): C (Cyan) — blue, M (Magenta) — magenta, Y (Yellow) — yellow, K (Black) — black. Used in printers and prepress when you know for sure that you will be printing this photo.
- HSB or HSL. A color model that dissects each color into three components: H (Hue) — hue or hue, S (Saturation) — saturation and L or B ( Lightness or Brightness) — brightness, and in some translations luminosity. This model is built into the color tools in Lightroom, Capture One, Photoshop, and Adobe Camera Raw.
- Lab color model. This model has the largest color gamut — displays the most colors at their maximum brightness. The color profile is popular in professional circles when an image is being prepared for printing.
The difference between Lab and CMYK is that CMYK color reproduction is tied to the physical parameters of materials and technology. For example, the color will be different due to different types and colors of paper, ink, printing machine manufacturers. Lab, on the other hand, uniquely defines the color, it is a universal model.
Adobe RGB or sRGB: Types of RGB color spaces
The RGB color model includes several color spaces. This is necessary because different monitors, printers, phones have different color reproduction — manufacturers have not agreed on a single standard, everyone has different technologies and product vision. The introduction of common color spaces is an attempt to bring everything to a common denominator. Thanks to this, in most cases, the photo on your laptop and on the client’s phone will be the same color.
Most often, the photographer is faced with two color spaces:
- Adobe RGB. A color space with a wide color gamut. When compared to sRGB, colors are more vibrant and saturated. In addition, it gives more shades of dark green. Most often it is used in printing and prepress.
To fully unleash the potential of this space, you need an expensive monitor that supports Adobe RGB. It turns out that your client will hardly be able to see all the richness of color. But it is possible if you work only with other pros, printers and in the b2b segment. The disadvantage of space is that when uploading photos to the Internet, the colors are faded, dull, dirty.
- sRGB. A color space with a narrower color gamut than Adobe RGB, but very common. sRGB is supported by all monitors, phones, tablets, TVs, projectors. Moreover, it is in this color space that you need to work if your photos live only in virtual spaces — social networks, websites, cloud drives.
Important: it is work in the wrong color space that can greatly distort colors when printing a photo or publishing it on the Internet. But sometimes even the correct color space does not save.
For example, Xiaomi phones are notorious for greatly increasing color saturation. It turns out that you and your client will have the same colors on the monitors of the picture, and in the phone of this brand it will be much brighter. What follows from this? Disappointing conclusion: perfect color reproduction does not exist. If a customer is complaining about the color but your color space is correct, ask them to view the photo on different devices — phones, laptops, desktops — or better yet, check the pictures yourself before sending. If the problem persists, you should think about calibrating the monitor by a specialist.
How to change color space
You can choose which color space to work in — Adobe RGB or sRGB — both before shooting on the camera and during post-processing. We tell you how to choose the right color space in the camera, as well as Lightroom and Adobe Photoshop.
camera color space
To select a color space before shooting, go to the camera menu. For example, in Canon it’s an icon with a camera icon with two dots, while in Nikon it’s just a camera icon.
How to Change Color Space in Photoshop and Adobe Camera Raw
So that after processing a photo in Photoshop, its color does not change, open the program and go to the menu Editing / Edit — Color Settings / Color Setting.
If you shoot in RAW and be sure to go through Adobe Camera Raw before Photoshop, you can change the color space there by clicking on the underlined line at the bottom of the window.
How to change color space in Lightroom
- Go to Editing / Edit — Settings / Preferences — External editing / External Editing.
– If you find that you were working in the wrong color space for you, then you can change it before saving the processed photos. To do this, click on the tab Library and find the button Export/Export.
How to calibrate the monitor and which calibrator to choose for this
Photographer Monitors: Color Accurate Models
Skin Color in Lightroom: How to Get the Perfect Skin Tone