Monthly Archives: Feb 2015
Essential Photoshop Color Settings For Photographers Used with requested permission and written by Steve Patterson. Adobe Photoshop is the world's most powerful (and popular) image editor, trusted by both amateur and professional photographers everywhere to help their photos look their very best. With that in mind, it may surprise you to learn that Photoshop's default color settings - that is, the settings that determine the range of colors and tonal values we have available to us when editing and retouching our images - are actually preventing our photos from looking the way they should, both when viewed on screen and when printed. In this tutorial, we'll learn why the default color settings are not the best choice and which settings will give us better results. Now, I could talk all day long about color theory and wish I still had more time, but I also know I'd risk putting a lot of good people to sleep if I did that. So in this tutorial, we'll keep the technical stuff to a minimum and focus on what the correct settings in Photoshop's Color Settings dialog box should be so you can start editing and retouching your images with your newly-expanded range of color possibilities. If you are interested in learning more about these color settings, I'll be covering them in more detail in other tutorials. I'm using Photoshop CC (Creative Cloud) here but these color settings apply to any recent version of Photoshop, so if you're using CS6 or earlier and you want the highest possible range of colors for your images, you should still follow along. Download Photoshop Essentials tutorials as print-ready PDFs! Learning Photoshop has never been easier! Where To Find The Color Settings To get to Photoshop's color settings, go up to the Edit menu in the Menu Bar along the top of the screen and choose Color Settings: Going to Edit > Color Settings. This opens the Color Settings dialog box. If you've never seen this dialog box before, and if you know nothing about color spaces and color management, it may seem a little intimidating. Don't worry, though, because there's really only one important setting we need to change: Photoshop's Color Settings dialog box. The RGB Working Space By default, Photoshop uses a preset collection of color settings known as North America General Purpose 2 (if you're in a different part of the world from where I am, you may see something different but that's okay because we'll be manually changing the settings ourselves anyway): The default color settings preset. If we look directly below the name of the preset, we find the Working Spaces section, and the very first option at the top, RGB, is where we tell Photoshop which color space we want to use by default when viewing and editing our images (there's also options below it for CMYK, Gray and Spot, but these deal specifically with printing. For on-screen image editing, the only one we need to worry about is RGB). A color space determines the range of colors and tonal values that are available to us. The color range of a particular color space is known as its gamut. Colors that fall outside the range of the color space are called out of gamut. For photography and photo editing, there's three main color spaces that we typically have to choose from - sRGB, Adobe RGB and ProPhoto RGB. By default, Photoshop is set to sRGB: The default sRGB working space. Each of these three color spaces gives us a different range of colors and tonal values to work with, some larger than others, and it makes sense that we'd want access to the largest possible range when editing our images. Unfortunately, Photoshop's default settings give us the exact opposite. The sRGB color space contains by far the smallest range of colors and tones. The Adobe RGB space contains a much larger range, while ProPhoto RGB gives us even more! Learn all about RGB and Color Channels in Photoshop To quickly illustrate the difference between sRGB and the next largest color space, Adobe RGB, here's a graph showing a comparison of the two (the graph was created using Chromix ColorThink 2). The area in the center that's filled with color represents the range of colors available in the default sRGB space. The colored outline surrounding it is the range available in Adobe RGB (unfortunately a 2D graph like this doesn't include brightness values but it still gives us a pretty good idea of what's going on): The sRGB (inside) and Adobe RGB (outside) color spaces. As we can see, even though sRGB does offer lots of colors, Adobe RGB offers the same colors, plus a lot more, especially in the greens and cyans. In other words, it has a larger gamut than sRGB. This means we'd have far more colors available to us when editing our images if we simply switched from the default sRGB color space to Adobe RGB. Why, then, would Adobe choose sRGB as Photoshop's default? The answer is simple - sRGB is safe. sRGB was designed to represent the range of colors that a typical low-end computer monitor (the kind most people use) can reproduce. Also, even though most digital cameras these days give us the choice of capturing our images in either sRGB or Adobe RGB, they're set to sRGB by default and most people never change it (in fact, most don't even know the option is there). Thirdly, if you usually send your photos off to a commercial lab for printing (as opposed to printing them at home with an inkjet printer), the lab will want the images saved in sRGB. So, if most computer monitors can only display sRGB, most cameras are set to sRGB, and commercial printing labs require sRGB, it makes sense then that Photoshop would choose sRGB as its default. It's the safe choice. If sRGB is safe, why not stick with it? Why choose something else? There's two main reasons why we'd want to select a larger color space. First, a larger color space means we not only have access to more colors but also more vibrant, richer, more saturated colors. Photos captured or saved in sRGB can sometimes look a bit dull and muted compared with images in Adobe RGB. Also, if you have a decent inkjet photo printer at home, there's a good chance that it can print colors that sRGB can't display, so your prints also suffer by not taking advantage of all the colors your printer is capable of reproducing. Since sRGB is not the best choice because its color range is too limited, that leaves us with two other color spaces to choose from - Adobe RGB or ProPhoto RGB. As I mentioned, ProPhoto RGB contains an even larger range of colors than Adobe RGB, so wouldn't that make ProPhoto RGB the obvious choice? Not necessarily, because having too many colors available can also cause problems, especially if you move an image from one color space to another. ProPhoto RGB contains such an extremely wide color range that many of its colors actually extend outside the scope of human vision, and converting an image from a much smaller space like sRGB or even Adobe RGB into ProPhoto RGB can make colors look overly saturated, cause noticeable banding or posterization, and even cause drastic color shifts. As an example, here's a side-by-side comparison of the same photo assigned to each of the three different color spaces. The original photo (on the left) was captured, and remains, in sRGB. It actually looks a little drab compared with the version next to it (middle photo) which was assigned an Adobe RGB profile (we'll learn all about assigning and converting to color profiles in a separate tutorial). Notice the more saturated colors that Adobe RGB produced, improving the photo's appearance. The version on the right, however, again originally captured in sRGB, was assigned a profile of ProPhoto RGB. The colors are now overly saturated to the point of looking completely unnatural while some of the colors themselves have shifted. The sky in particular is now a completely different blue than what I originally captured: The original sRGB capture (left), assigned to Adobe RGB (middle) and ProPhoto RGB (right). So is ProPhoto RGB not the correct choice? Is Adobe RGB better? The answer really depends on how you typically capture your images and how you use Photoshop. If, like most Photoshop users, you shoot and work primarily with JPEG files (which can only be captured in either sRGB or Adobe RGB) and you do most or all of your editing directly in Photoshop itself, then the best color space to choose is Adobe RGB. It's large enough to encompass all the colors your computer monitor can display (even if you're using an expensive high end monitor) and most of the colors an inket printer can print. To change Photoshop's RGB working space to Adobe RGB, simply click on sRGB and choose Adobe RGB from the list: Adobe RGB is the best choice for most Photoshop users working with JPEG files. If, on the other hand, you typically capture your images as 16-bit raw files and you open the raw files in either Adobe Lightroom or Camera Raw for initial processing before moving them into Photoshop, you'll want to take advantage of the greatly expanded color range that ProPhoto RGB offers. Adobe Lightroom also uses ProPhoto RGB as its working color space, while Camera Raw lets you manually assign ProPhoto RGB to an image. So by setting Photoshop to ProPhoto RGB as well, you'll be preserving the image's color information between programs and maintaining all the editing freedom and flexibility that ProPhoto RGB offers. It's important to keep in mind, though, that ProPhoto RGB is really only beneficial if you're working with images that were initially captured as 16-bit raw files. As we saw earlier, attempting to assign ProPhoto RGB to an image that was captured in sRGB or Adobe RGB can cause serious problems. That's why for most people, Adobe RGB is all you'll need to get great results with your images, both on screen and in print. But, if you do shoot or work with 16-bit raw files, ProPhoto RGB will give you the best results: ProPhoto RGB is best for 16-bit images coming from Lightroom or Camera Raw. Raw vs JPEG for photo editing What To Do With Color Profile Mismatches So far, we've learned that the sRGB color space (Photoshop's default setting) is not the best choice for editing our images because of its relatively small and limited range of colors and tones. Adobe RGB is a better choice for Photoshop users who shoot and work with JPEG files, while ProPhoto RGB is best for images originally captured as 16-bit raw files. But what happens if you set Photoshop to one color space and try to open an image that was saved in a different color space? For example, let's say you've set Photoshop's working space to Adobe RGB but someone sends you a photo to work on that was saved in sRGB? Should it remain in sRGB or be converted to Adobe RGB? We need to tell Photoshop what to do in these situations, and we do that using the options in the Color Management Policies section of the Color Settings dialog box. Once again, we have options for RGB, CMYK and Gray, but as I mentioned earlier, CMYK and Gray specifically deal with printing. The only one we really need to be concerned with for image editing is RGB. Fortunately, we don't really need to be concerned with these options at all because unlike Photoshop's RGB working space setting, the default settings for the Color Management Policies are actually correct. In pretty much every case when a photo's color profile doesn't match Photoshop's working space, you'll want to preserve the original color profile. If you convert the image to Photoshop's working space, you run the risk of changing the original colors in the image, and that can leave people - especially clients - none too happy with you. By preserving the color profile that's embedded in the image, we keep its original colors intact. That's why the default setting, Preserve Embedded Profiles, is the one you'll want to stick with: Leave the Color Management Policies options set to Preserve Embedded Profiles. Now that we've told Photoshop to preserve the photo's original color profile whenever there's any sort of mismatch, the next question is, do we still want Photoshop to notify us whenever there is a mismatch? If we say yes, then each time the image we're opening has a different color profile than our working space, Photoshop will pop open a warning box like this one, which not only makes us aware of the mismatch but also gives us the chance to override the default behavior: The Embedded Profile Mismatch warning box. As we've already learned, there's usually no reason why you'd want to do anything other than preserve the photo's embedded color profile, so the issue here becomes whether or not you simply want to be notified that there is, in fact, a mismatch. Personally, I'm a big fan of information so I do like to be notified even though I do nothing about it other than click OK to close out of the warning box. If you're like me and still want to know when it happens, select the Ask When Opening and Ask When Pasting options to the right of the words Profile Mismatches by clicking inside their checkboxes (Ask When Pasting is for when you drag or paste an image from one document into another and each document is using a different color profile). You'll also want to select Ask When Opening for Missing Profiles as well for those rare occasions when you'll come across an image that doesn't have an embedded color profile at all. If you don't want Photoshop to notify you about these things, that's fine too, since you weren't going to do anything about them anyway. In that case, simply leave the boxes unchecked: Photoshop will still warn you about missing or mismatched profiles if you select these options. Saving Your Settings Once you've made your changes, it's a good idea to save your new settings so you can easily switch back to them again if needed. To save them, click the Save button: Clicking the Save button. Give your custom settings a name. I'll call mine "My Color Settings". Click the Save button again: Naming the new settings. Another dialog box will appear, this time giving you the chance to enter in a description for your settings if you like to serve as a reminder of what these settings are for. I’ll enter “These are the best settings to use with my images”, but you can enter something different, or simply enter nothing at all. Click OK when you’re done to close out of the dialog box: Adding some comments for my custom settings. Once your custom settings have been saved, you can select them again at any time from the Settings option at the top of the Color Settings dialog box (the option that was initially set to North America General Purpose 2): Selecting my new custom settings from the list of presets. And there we have it! That's how to expand your range of color possibilities and get the most out of your images with a few simple but essential changes to the default color settings in Photoshop! For more information and other Photoshop tutorials click here.
Ientered a local photographic online competition called my360 Take Your Best Shot held in my home town East-London, South-Africa in early September 2014. Pollocks Photography have been a longstanding name for over 30 years in East-London when it comes to photography; this is not my first competition that I have entered with them. Not expecting much, I was quite amazed that my image landed a first place slot in the October finals in the Landscape Online entry. Landscape Online Barkley-East, South-Africa The image was taken in 2005 on my way to a farmer in the Barkley-East District, it was my first visit there. I was totally amazed by the volume of new scenes that were presented to me, as around every corner something breathtaking was unfolding before me. Needless to say it took longer than expected to arrive at my destination. I then went on to enter four more images in the print section and are awaiting the outcome of their standings there. The whole focus of this competition for me is name and brand building, winning is a bonus. The categories I entered in the print section are Wildlife, Abstract and Landscape / Seascape; these images can been seen at the Vincent Park Mall where Pollocks have their display. I am waiting for them to update the images on their Facebook page. Below are the images I entered: Abstract Print Pastoral, Overberg, South Africa Wildlife Print Leopard, Madikwe Private Game Reserve, Mosetlha, South-Africa Lion at a Zebra Kill, Madikwe Private Game Reserve, Mosetlha, South-Africa Seascape Print Tsaarsbank, West Coast National Park, South-Africa So, let's wait out until the judges decision is final, the competition ends 28th February 2015. I will do a follow up post with my results outcome.
Welcome to Craig Fouché Photography This website originally began on 13 October 2014 to showcase my work; at the same time I launched my Facebook and Twitter page to announce this new beginning. Things ran well for the website, until a bored hacker with a devilish, destructive intent decided that stealing all my content, that being image, textual content and pre-release blogs from my site on 5 Jan 2015 was his mission for the day! This involved me cancelling my ISP, finding a new one in Germany, rather than South-Africa, where I currently have super service and support. Once acquired I began the tedious task of a complete make over and rebuild from scratch. It is only in calamity that one can see how much support you really have; the photographic community who know me, responded immediately to this, offering all kinds of help, support and advice in all aspects of this disaster. Craig Fouché Shooting Landscapes in Tankwa Karoo - ©2014 Dominique Fouché So to tell you a bit about myself, I am a South-African photographer based in Worcester in the Winelands region of the Western-Cape of South-Africa. I am registered with Nikon as a Nikon Professional User or NPU. I began photography in 1999 after a trip to the Kruger National Park, waited for hours on end to capture a glossy book image of a hippo yawning in the water (all on a point and shoot film camera). I was so excited that perseverance paid off and I got the shot...after processing the image to find that the hippo was the size of a tip of a match stick in a postcard sized image! That was a game changer from happy snappy shots to buying my first SLR camera, a Pentax MZ-50. I joined ELPS where my steep learning photographic curve started. During that time I also entered a few local competitions and won! I later bought a more professional Nikon F90X body & that's where I could see the difference in the quality of lenses and equipment for the work I was producing. It wasn't long before I bought my first DSLR - the Nikon D70 around June 2003. I used to only shoot in *.jpeg, and had no idea about editing as we do today, Adobe Camera Raw was invented later that year in November 2003. After a recent trip to Croatia in July 2013, did I go and buy new Nikon gear for both myself and my wife. It was a wonderful holiday and learning curve all the same, since I had put my earlier gear in cotton wool in 2005. It feels good to be able to shoot again! Networking with the right people, learning from DVD's and even being a part of various photographic forums an Facebook has taught me so much. One is able to gauge the level of skill, expertise and high quality work out there that is now the benchmark one should aspire to attain or improve on. As you can see from my website, I am capable of shooting a wide variety of subjects. This website and my photography is a constant work in progress.