Color Temperature

Lightroom Color Temperature (or Colour Temperature if you spell correctly!)

“Andy – why the heck is Lightrooms temperature slider the wrong way around?”

That’s a question that I used to get asked quite a lot, and it’s started again since I mentioned it in passing a couple of posts ago.

The short answer is “IT ISN”T….it’s just you who doesn’t understand what it is and how it functions”.

But in order to give the definitive answer I feel the need to get back to basics though – so here goes.

The Spectrum Locus

Let’s get one thing straight from the start – LOCUS is just a posh word for PATH!

Visible light is just part of the electro-magnetic energy spectrum typically between 380nm (nanometers) and 700nm:

%name Color Temperature

In the first image below is what’s known as the Spectrum Locus – as defined by the CIE (Commission Internationale de l´Eclairage or International Commission on Illumination).

In a nutshell the locus represents the range of colors visible to the human eye – or I should say chromaticities:

1200px CIE1931xy blank Color Temperature

The blue numbers around the locus are simply the nanometer values from that same horizontal scale above. The reasoning behind the unit values of the x and y axis are complex and irrelevant to us in this post, otherwise it’ll go on for ages.

The human eye is a fickle thing.

It will always perceive, say, 255 green as being lighter than 255 red or 255 blue, and 255 blue as being the darkest of the three.  And the same applies to any value of the three primaries, as long as all three are the same.

perception Color Temperature

This stems from the fact that the human eye has around twice the response to green light as it does red or blue – crazy but true.  And that’s why your camera sensor – if it’s a Bayer type – has twice the number of green photosites on it as red or blue.

In rather over-simplified terms the CIE set a standard by which all colors in the visible spectrum could be expressed in terms of ‘chromaticity’ and ‘brightness’.

Brightness can be thought of as a grey ramp from black to white.

Any color space is a 3 dimensional shape with 3 axes x, y and z.

Z is the grey ramp from black to white, and the shape is then defined by the colour positions in terms of their chromaticity on the x and y axes, and their brightness on the z axis:

adobeRGB1998 Color Temperature

But if we just take the chromaticity values of all the colours visible to the human eye we end up with the CIE1931 spectrum locus – a two dimensional plot if you like, of the ‘perceived’ color space of human vision.

Now here’s where the confusion begins for the majority of ‘uneducated photographers’ – and I mean that in the nicest possible way, it’s not a dig!

Below is the same spectrum locus with an addition:

PlanckianLocus Color Temperature

This additional TcK curve is called the Planckian Locus, or dark body locus.  Now please don’t give up here folks, after all you’ve got this far, but it’ll get worse before it gets better!

The Planckian Locus simply represents the color temperature in degrees Kelvin of the colour emitted by a ‘dark body’ – think lump of pure carbon – as it is heated.  Its color temperature begins to visibly rise as its thermal temperature rises.

Up to a certain thermal temperature it’ll stay visibly black, then it will begin to glow a deep red.  Warm it up some more and the red color temperature turns to orange, then yellow and finally it will be what we can call ‘white hot’.

So the Planckian Locus is the 2D chromaticity plot of the colours emitted by a dark body as it is heated.

Here’s point of confusion number 1: do NOT jump to the conclusion that this is in any way a greyscale. “Well it starts off BLACK and ends up WHITE” – I’ve come across dozens of folk who think that – as they say, a little knowledge is a dangerous thing indeed!

What the Planckian Locus IS indicative of though is WHITE POINT.

Our commonly used colour management white points of D65, D55 and D50 all lie along the Planckian Locus, as do all the other CIE standard illumimant types of which there’s more than few.

The standard monitor calibration white point of D65 is actually 6500 Kelvin – it’s a standardized classification for ‘mean Noon Daylight’, and can be found on the Spectrum Locus/Plankckian Locus at 0.31271x, 0.32902y.

D55 or 5500 Kelvin is classed as Mid Morning/Mid Afternoon Daylight and can be found at 0.33242x, 0.34743y.

D50 or 5000 kelvin is classed as Horizon Light with co-ordinates of 0.34567x, 0.35850.

But we can also equate Planckian Locus values to our ‘picture taking’ in the form of white balance.

FACT: The HIGHER the color temperature the BLUER the light, and lower color temperatures shift from blue to yellow, then orange (studio type L photofloods 3200K), then more red (standard incandescent bulb 2400K) down to candle flame at around 1850K).  Sunset and sunrise are typically standardized at 1850K and LPS Sodium street lights can be as low as 1700K.

And a clear polar sky can be upwards of 27,000K – now there’s blue for you!

And here’s where we find confusion point number 2!

Take a look at this shot taken through a Lee Big Stopper:

2 Color Temperature

I’m an idle git and always have my camera set to a white balance of Cloudy B1, and here I’m shooting through a filter that notoriously adds a pretty severe bluish cast to an image anyway.

If you look at the TEMP and TINT sliders you will see Cloudy B1 is interpreted by Lightroom as 5550 Kelvin and a tint of +5 – that’s why the notation is ‘AS SHOT’.

Officially a Cloudy white balance is anywhere between 6000 Kelvin and 10,000 kelvin depending on your definition, and I’ve stuck extra blue in there with the Cloudy B1 setting, which will make the effective temperature go up even higher.

So either way, you can see that Lightrooms idea of 5550 Kelvin is somewhat ‘OFF’ to say the least, but it’s irrelevant at this juncture.

Where the real confusion sets in is shown in the image below:

1 Color Temperature

“Andy, now you’ve de-blued the shot why is the TEMP slider value saying 8387 Kelvin ? Surely it should be showing a value LOWER than 5550K – after all, tungsten is warm and 3200K”….

How right you are…..and wrong at the same time!

What Lightroom is saying is that I’ve added YELLOW to the tune of 8387-5550 or 2837.

FACT – the color temperature controls in Lightroom DO NOT work by adjusting the Planckian or black body temperature of light in our image.  They are used to COMPENSATE for the recorded Planckian/black body temperature.

If you load in image in the develop module of Lightroom and use any of the preset values, the value itself is ball park correct(ish).

The Daylight preset loads values of 5500K and +10. The Shade preset will jump to 7500K and +10, and Tungsten will drop to 2850K and +/-0.

But the Tungsten preset puts the TEMP slider in the BLUE part of the slider Blue/Yellow graduated scale, and the Shade preset puts the slider in the YELLOW side of the scale, thus leading millions of people into mistakenly thinking that 7500K is warmer/yellower than 2850K when it most definitely is NOT!

This kind of self-induced bad learning leaves people wide open to all sorts of misunderstandings when it comes to other aspects of color theory and color management.

My advice has always been the same, just ignore the numbers in Lightroom and do your adjustments subjectively – do what looks right!

But for heaven sake don’t try and build an understanding of color temperature based on the color balance control values in Lightroom – otherwise you get in one heck of a mess.

Colour in Photoshop

Colour in Photoshop.

Understanding colour inside Photoshop is riddled with confusion for the majority of users.  This is due to the perpetual misuse of certain words and terms.  Adobe themselves use incorrect terminology – which doesn’t help!

The aim of this post is to understand the attributes or properties of colour inside the Photoshop environment – “…is that right Andy?”  “Yeh, it is!”

So, the first colour attribute we’re going to look at is HUE:

ColWheel1 1 Colour in Photoshop

A colour wheel showing point-sampled HUES (colours) at 30 degree increments.

HUE can be construed as meaning ‘colour’ – or color for the benefit of our American friends “come on guys, learn to spell – you’ve had long enough!”

The colour wheel begins at 0 degrees with pure Red (255,0,0 in 8bit RGB terms), and moves clockwise through all the HUES/colours to end up back at pure Red – simple!

Hue1 Colour in Photoshop

Above, we can see samples of primary red and secondary yellow together with their respective HUE degree values which are Red 0 degrees and Yellow 60 degrees.  You can also see that the colour channel values for Red are 255,0,0 and Yellow 255,255,0.  This shows that Yellow is a mix of Red light and Green light in equal proportions.

I told you it was easy!

Inside Photoshop the colour wheel starts and ends at 180 degrees CYAN, and is flattened out into a horizontal bar as in the Hue/Saturation adjustment:

ColWheel2 Colour in Photoshop

Overall, there is no ambiguity over the meaning or terminology HUE; it is what it is, and it is usually taken as meaning ‘what colour’ something is.

The same can be said for the next attribute of colour – SATURATION.

Or can it?

How do we define saturation?

Sat1 Colour in Photoshop

Two different SATURATION values (100% & 50%) of the same HUE.

Above we can see two different saturation values for the same HUE (0 degrees Hue, 100% and 50% Saturation). I suppose the burning question is, do we have two different ‘colours’?

As photographers we mainly work with additive colour; that is we add Red, Green and Blue coloured light to black in order to attain white.  But in the world of painting for instance, subtractive colour is used; pigments are overlaid on white (thus subtracting white) to make black.  Printing uses the same model – CMY+K inks overlaid on ‘white’ paper …..mmm see here

If we take a particular ‘colour’ of paint and we mix it with BLACK we have a different SHADE of the same colour.  If we instead add WHITE we end up with what’s called a TINT of the same colour; and if add grey to the original paint we arrive at a different TONE of the same colour.

Let’s look at that 50% saturated Red again:

Sat2 Colour in Photoshop

Hue Red 0 degrees with 50% saturation.

We’ve basically added 128 Green and 128 Blue to 255 Red. Have we kept the same HUE – yes we have.

Is it the same colour? Be honest – you don’t know do you!

The answer is NO – they are two different ‘colours’, and the hexadecimal codes prove it – those are the hash-tag values ff0000 and ff8080.  But in our world of additive colour we should only think of the word ‘colour’ as a generalisation because it is somewhat ambiguous and imprecise.

But we can quantify the SATURATION of a HUE – so we’re all good up to this point!

So we beaver away in Photoshop in the additive RGB colour mode, but what you might not realise is that we are working in a colour model within that mode, and quite frankly this is where the whole chebang turns to pooh for a lot of folk.

There are basically two colour models for dare I use the word ‘normal’, photography work; HSB (also known as HSV) and HSL, and both are cylindrical co-ordinate colour models:

HSBHSL Colour in Photoshop

HSB (HSV) and HSL colour models for additive RGB.

Without knowing one single thing about either, you can tell they are different just by looking at them.

All Photoshop default colour picker referencing is HSB – that is Hue, Saturation & Brightness; with equivalent RGB, Lab, CMYK  hexadecimal values:

col3 Colour in Photoshop

But in the Hue/Sat adjustment for example, we see the adjustments are HSL:

ColWheel2 Colour in Photoshop

The HSL model references colour in terms of Hue, Saturation & Lightness – not flaming LUMINOSITY as so many people wrongly think!

And it’s that word luminosity that’s the single largest purveyor of confusion and misunderstanding – luminosity masking, luminosity blending mode are both terms that I and oh so many others use – and we’re all wrong.

I have an excuse – I know everything, but I have to use the wrong terminology otherwise no one else knows what I’m talking about!!!!!!!!!  Plausible story and I’m sticking to it your honour………

Anyway, within Photoshop, HSB is used to select colours, and HSL is used to change them.

The reason for this is somewhat obvious when you take a close look at the two models again:

HSBHSL Colour in Photoshop

HSB (HSV) and HSL colour models for additive RGB. (V stands for Value = B in HSB).

In the HSB model look where the “whiteness” information is; it’s radial, and bound up in the ‘S’ saturation co-ordinate.  But the “blackness” information is vertical, on the ‘B’ brightness co-ordinate.  This great when we want to pick/select/reference a colour.

But surely it would be more beneficial for the “whiteness” and “blackness” information to be attached to the axis or dimension, especially when we need to increase or decrease that “white” or “black” co-ordinate value in processing.

So within the two models the ‘H’ hue co-ordinates are pretty much the same, but the ‘S’ saturation co-ordinates are different.

So this leaves us with that most perennial of questions – what is the difference between Brightness and Lightness?

Firstly, there is a massive visual difference between the Brightness and Lightness  information contained within an image as you will see now:

BHSB Colour in Photoshop

The ‘Brightness’ channel of HSB.

LHSL Colour in Photoshop

The ‘L’ channel of HSL

Straight off the bat you can see that there is far more “whites detail” information contained in the ‘L’ lightness map of the image than in the brightness map.  Couple that with the fact that Lightness controls both black and white values for every pixel in your image – and you should now be able to comprehend the difference between Lightness and Brightness, and so be better at understanding colour inside Photoshop.

We’ll always use the highly bastardised terms like luminosity, luminance etc – but please be aware that you may be using them to describe something to which they DO NOT APPLY.

Luminosity is a measure of the magnitude of a light source – typically stars; but could loosely be applied to the lumens output power of any light source.  Luminance is a measure of the reflected light from a subject being illuminated by a light source; and varies with distance from said light source – a la the inverse square law etc.

Either way, neither of them have got anything to do with the pixel values of an image inside Photoshop!

But LIGHTNESS certainly does.

Lumenzia for Easy Luminosity Masking

Lumenzia for Easy Luminosity Masking..

I’m a really BIG fan of Luminosity Masking, and the ease by which you can use them to create really powerful adjustments to your image inside Photoshop – adjustments that are IMPOSSIBLE to make in Lightroom.

For a while now I’ve been selling a luminosity mask action set for Photoshop, and up until a week ago I had plans to upgrade said action set to produce even more custom masks.

That is until a good friend of mine, Mr. Omar Jabr, asked me if I’d come across this new product, LUMENZIA, that made the production and deployment of luminosity masks and their derivatives EVEN EASIER.

intro 900x624 Lumenzia for Easy Luminosity Masking

An original RAW file open in Lightroom (right) together with the final image (left) – 99% of the “heavy lifting” being done in Photoshop using the Lumenzia Extension and it’s luminosity masking functions.

In all honesty I am so excited about this amazing software extension that I’ve abandoned all plans to further develop my own action set for Photoshop – to do so would be a truly pointless exercise.

There is so much more to Lumenzia than the production of the standard 4 or 5 Darks,Lights and Midtone luminosity masks that mine and other available action sets produce.

To get an idea of just how powerful Lumenzia is just click HERE to visit the applications home page – and just buy it while you are there; purchase is a “no brainer” and one of those digital imaging JDI’s (just do it)!

The inclusion of a luminosity masking function based on the Zone System gives you instant recourse to masks based on Ansel Adams 11 zone system of scene brightness – a classic approach to the quantification of subject brightness range created by arguably the greatest landscape photographer the world has ever known – IMHO of course.

AAZone Lumenzia for Easy Luminosity Masking

In order to instal Lumenzia you will need to install the correct Photoshop Extension Manager for which ever version of Photoshop you are running – CS6, CC, or CC2014 (it is not intended to be installed on CS5 or lower).

1. Buy Lumenzia

2. Follow the download link, and download the .Zip folder.

3. Extract the folder contents.

4. Locate the “com.lumenzia.zxp” file in the extracted contents, right click and choose Open with: Adobe Extension Manager v.xx

You should see:

a Lumenzia for Easy Luminosity Masking

Click Install, and you should see:

b Lumenzia for Easy Luminosity Masking

If you are running Mac OS 10.10x Yosemite you may have a slight problem with the CC2014 Extension Manager not being able to find the application pathway to Ps CC2014.  If you get a message from the Extension Manager waffling on about needing Photoshop v11 or higher don’t stress, the fix is a little brutal but really simple:

Go Applications>Utilities>Adobe Installers and UNINSTALL (that’s right!) BOTH Photoshop CC2014 and Extension Manager CC2014, then log back in to your CC account, go to the Apps tab and re-install Photoshop CC2014 AND Extension Manager CC2014 sequentially – that will cure the problem and only take about 5 or 6 minutes.

Open a RAW file in CameraRAW, or better still Lightroom. Get your camera calibration and contrast under control as I’ve banged on about so many times before, negate any chromatic aberration and do a bit of effective noise reduction if needed, then send the image to Photoshop:

3 900x563 Lumenzia for Easy Luminosity Masking

Go Window>Extensions>Lumenzia

Go Window>Extensions>Lumenzia and the Lumenzia interface will appear – I like to drag it into the right hand tools palette so it’s not encroaching on the work area.

The first thing that amazed me about Lumenzia is the fact that you can create luminosity masks without creating 12 or 15 separate Alpha channels with the image – this makes a HUGE difference to the file size of the image, not just from the disc space PoV but it can also have file handling speed benefits in terms of tile rendering speed and scratch disc usage – if you don’t understand that just think of it as a GOOD thing!

For example:

5 900x560 Lumenzia for Easy Luminosity Masking

The final adjusted image (prior to a couple of tweaks in Lightroom) on the left is 271Mb including all layers being intact; the image on the right, though not yet processed, has been prepared for processing by running a luminosity mask action set and developing a stack of Alpha channels; it is now over 458Mb:

6 900x562 Lumenzia for Easy Luminosity Masking

…just because of the Alpha channels. And we have also got 50 steps of History that have to be retained by Photoshop; as you’ve now realised, the joke is that it’s double the size of the Lumenzia processed image and we haven’t begun to start making any adjustments yet!

There is lot’s more to Lumenzia, such as surface sharpening and easy dodge and burn layer creation – it’s going to take me a week to digest it all.

Prior to working with Lumenzia my one question was “how good are the masks” – well they are pixel-perfect.

Creating pixel-perfect luminosity masks is the most tedious of jobs if you do it the maual way – so much so that most folk take one look at the process and go “No thanks…..”

Photographers like myself couldn’t really help alleviate the tedium until the advent of CS6 which gave us the ability to write an ACTION that involved the operation of a PREVIOUSLY recorded action – so the luminosity mask action set was born.

But the developer of Lumenzia has topped it all by the proverbial country mile and given us a totally unique way of making the tedious and complex very easy and simple.

Once you have made your purchase you’d do well to go and watch the developer videos that are available online; you will get links to the training and support pages in your purchase receipt.

And to top it all off we can even generate Alpha channels and selections if we want or need to, and we can mask on the basis of Vibrancy and Saturation; yet another processing wheeze known by few, and used by fewer still.

The developer has given me permission to demonstrate and teach the deployment of Lumenzia, and to promote it as an affiliate.  I’ve been offered affiliate-ships before but have rejected them in the past because basically what was being peddled was either crap or too expensive; or BOTH.

But whatever you think the opinion of yours truly is worth, I can honestly say that Lumenzia is most definitely NEITHER of the above – it’s that good I’ll never use anything else ever again, and at under 40 bucks you’re going to make one hell of a difference to your images with so little effort it’s unreal.

Click HERE to buy and download

LUMENZIA – BUY IT – go on, get on with it!

lum Lumenzia for Easy Luminosity Masking

Lumenzia GUI for Photoshop CC2014


Please consider supporting this blog.

This blog really does need your support. All the information I put on these pages I do freely, but it does involve costs in both time and money.

If you find this post useful and informative please could you help by making a small donation – it would really help me out a lot – whatever you can afford would be gratefully received.

Your donation will help offset the costs of running this blog and so help me to bring you lots more useful and informative content.

Many thanks in advance.


Desktop Printing 101

Understanding Desktop Printing – part 1


print1 Desktop Printing 101Desktop printing is what all photographers should be doing.

Holding a finished print of your epic image is the final part of the photographic process, and should be enjoyed by everyone who owns a camera and loves their photography.

But desktop printing has a “bad rap” amongst the general hobby photography community – a process full of cost, danger, confusion and disappointment.

Yet there is no need for it to be this way.

Desktop printing is not a black art full of ‘ju-ju men’ and bear-traps  – indeed it’s exactly the opposite.

But if you refuse to take on board a few simple basics then you’ll be swinging in the wind and burning money for ever.

Now I’ve already spoken at length on the importance of monitor calibration & monitor profiling on this blog HERE and HERE so we’ll take that as a given.

But in this post I want to look at the basic material we use for printing – paper media.

Print Media

A while back I wrote a piece entitled “How White is Paper White” – it might be worth you looking at this if you’ve not already done so.

Over the course of most of my blog posts you’ll have noticed a recurring undertone of contrast needs controlling.

Contrast is all about the relationship between blacks and whites in our images, and the tonal separation between them.

This is where we, as digital photographers, can begin to run into problems.

We work on our images via a calibrated monitor, normally calibrated to a gamma of 2.2 and a D65 white point.  Modern monitors can readily display true black and true white (Lab 0 to Lab 100/RGB 0 to 255 in 8 bit terms).

Our big problem lies in the fact that you can print NEITHER of these luminosity values in any of the printer channels – the paper just will not allow it.

A papers ability to reproduce white is obviously limited to the brightness and background colour tint of the paper itself – there is no such think as ‘white’ paper.

But a papers ability to render ‘black’ is the other vitally important consideration – and it comes as a major shock to a lot of photographers.

Let’s take 3 commonly used Permajet papers as examples:

  • Permajet Gloss 271
  • Permajet Oyster 271
  • Permajet Portrait White 285

The following measurements have been made with a ColorMunki Photo & Colour Picker software.

L* values are the luminosity values in the L*ab colour space where 0 = pure black (0RGB) and 100 = pure white (255RGB)

Gloss paper:

  • Black/Dmax = 4.4 L* or 14,16,15 in 8 bit RGB terms
  • White/Dmin = 94.4 L* or 235,241,241 (paper white)

From these measurements we can see that the deepest black we can reproduce has an average 8bit RGB value of 15 – not zero.

We can also see that “paper white” has a leaning towards cyan due to the higher 241 green & blue RGB values, and this carries over to the blacks which are 6 points deficient in red.

Oyster paper:

  • Black/Dmax = 4.7 L* or 15,17,16 in 8 bit RGB terms
  • White/Dmin = 94.9 L* or 237,242,241 (paper white)

We can see that the Oyster maximum black value is slightly lighter than the Gloss paper (L* values reflect are far better accuracy than 8 bit RGB values).

We can also see that the paper has a slightly brighter white value.

Portrait White Matte paper:

  • Black/Dmax = 25.8 L* or 59,62,61 in 8 bit RGB terms
  • White/Dmin = 97.1 L* or 247,247,244 (paper white)

You can see that paper white is brighter than either Gloss or Oyster.

The paper white is also deficient in blue, but the Dmax black is deficient in red.

It’s quite common to find this skewed cool/warm split between dark tones and light tones when printing, and sometimes it can be the other way around.

And if you don’t think there’s much of a difference between 247,247,244 & 247,247,247 you’d be wrong!

The image below (though exaggerated slightly due to jpeg compression) effectively shows the difference – 247 neutral being at the bottom.

x1 Desktop Printing 101

247,247,244 (top) and 247,247,247 (below) – slightly exaggerated by jpeg compression.

See how much ‘warmer’ the top of the square is?

But the real shocker is the black or Dmax value:

Matte sRGB 900x723 Desktop Printing 101

Portrait White matte finish paper plotted against wireframe sRGB on L*ab axes.

The wireframe above is the sRGB colour space plotted on the L*ab axes; the shaded volume is the profile for Portrait White.  The sRGB profile has a maximum black density of 0RGB and so reaches the bottom of vertical L axis.

However, that 25.8 L* value of the matte finish paper has a huge ‘gap’ underneath it.

The higher the black L* value the larger is the gap.

What does this gap mean for our desktop printing output?

It’s simple – any tones in our image that are DARKER, or have a lower L* value than the Dmax of the destination media will be crushed into “paper black” – so any shadow detail will be lost.

Equally the same can be said for gaps at the top of the L* axis where “paper white” or Dmin is lower than the L* value of the brightest tones in our image – they too will get homogenized into the all-encompassing paper white!

Imagine we’ve just processed an image that makes maximum use of our monitors display gamut in terms of luminosity – it looks magnificent, and will no doubt look equally as such for any form of electronic/digital distribution.

But if we send this image straight to a printer it’ll look really disappointing, if only for the reasons mentioned above – because basically the image will NOT fit on the paper in terms of contrast and tonal distribution, let alone colour fidelity.
It’s at this point where everyone gives up the idea of desktop printing:

  • It looks like crap
  • It’s a waste of time
  • I don’t know what’s happened.
  • I don’t understand what’s gone wrong

Well, in response to the latter, now you do!

But do we have to worry about all this tech stuff ?

No, we don’t have to WORRY about it – that’s what a colour managed work flow & soft proofing is for.

But it never hurts to UNDERSTAND things, otherwise you just end up in a “monkey see monkey do” situation.

And that’s as dangerous as it can get – change just one thing and you’re in trouble!

But if you can ‘get the point’ of this post then believe me you are well on your way to understanding desktop printing and the simple processes we need to go through to ensure accurate and realistic prints every time we hit the PRINT button.

print2 Desktop Printing 101

Please consider supporting this blog.

This blog really does need your support. All the information I put on these pages I do freely, but it does involve costs in both time and money.

If you find this post useful and informative please could you help by making a small donation – it would really help me out a lot – whatever you can afford would be gratefully received.

Your donation will help offset the costs of running this blog and so help me to bring you lots more useful and informative content.

Many thanks in advance.


Accurate Camera Colour within Lightroom

Obtaining accurate camera colour within Lightroom 5, in other words making the pics in your Lr Library look like they did on the back of the camera; is a problem that I’m asked about more and more since the advent of Lightroom 5 AND the latest camera marks – especially Nikon!

UPDATE NOTE: Please feel free to read this post THEN go HERE for a further post on achieving image NEUTRALITY in Lightroom 6/CC 2015

Does this problem look familiar?

Screen Shot 2014 01 14 at 08.05.24 900x303 Accurate Camera Colour within Lightroom

Back of the camera (left) to Lightroom (right) – click to enlarge.

The image looks fine (left) on the back of the camera, fine in the import dialogue box, and fine in the library module grid view UNTIL the previews have been created – then it looks like the image on the right.

I hear complaints that the colours are too saturated and the contrast has gone through the roof, the exposure has gone down etc etc.

All the visual descriptions are correct, but what’s responsible for the changes is mostly down to a shift in contrast.

Let’s have a closer look at the problem:

2 900x483 Accurate Camera Colour within Lightroom

Back of the camera (left) to Lightroom (right) – click to enlarge.

The increase in contrast has resulted in “choking” of the shadow detail under the wing of the Red Kite, loss of tonal separation in the darker mid tones, and a slight increase in the apparent luminance noise level – especially in that out-of-focus blue sky.

And of course, the other big side effect is an apparent increase in saturation.

You should all be aware of my saying that “Contrast Be Thine Enemy” by now – and so we’re hardly getting off to a good start with a situation like this are we…………

So how do we go about obtaining accurate camera colour within Lightroom?

Firstly, we need to understand just what’s going on inside the camera with regard to various settings, and what happens to those settings when we import the image into Lightroom.

Camera Settings & RAW files

Let’s consider all the various settings with regard to image control that we have in our cameras:

  • White Balance
  • Active D lighting
  • Picture Control – scene settings, sharpening etc:
  • Colour Space
  • Distortion Control
  • Vignette Control
  • High ISO NR
  • Focus Point/Group
  • Uncle Tom Cobbly & all…………..

All these are brought to bare to give us the post-view jpeg on the back of the camera.

And let’s not forget

  • Exif
  • IPTC

That post-view/review jpeg IS subjected to all the above image control settings, and is embedded in the RAW file; and the image control settings are recorded in what is called the raw file “header”.

It’s actually a lot more complex than that, with IFD & MakerNote tags and other “scrummy” tech stuff – see this ‘interesting’ article HERE – but don’t fall asleep!

If we ship the raw file to our camera manufacturers RAW file handler software such as Nikon CapNX then the embedded jpeg and the raw header data form the image preview.

However, to equip Lightroom with the ability to read headers from every digital camera on the planet would be physically impossible, and in my opinion, totally undesirable as it’s a far better raw handler than any proprietary offering from Nikon or Canon et al.

So, in a nutshell, Lightroom – and ACR – bin the embedded jpeg preview and ignore the raw file header, with the exception of white balance, together with Exif & IPTC data.

However, we still need to value the post jpeg on the camera because we use it to decide many things about exposure, DoF, focus point etc – so the impact of the various camera image settings upon that image have to be assessed.

Now here’s the thing about image control settings “in camera”.

For the most part they increase contrast, saturation and vibrancy – and as a consequence can DECREASE apparent DYNAMIC RANGE.  Now I’d rather have total control over the look and feel of my image rather than hand that control over to some poxy bit of cheap post-ASIC circuitry inside my camera.

So my recommendations are always the same – all in-camera ‘picture control’ type settings should be turned OFF; and those that can’t be turned off are set to LOW or NEUTRAL as applicable.

That way, when I view the post jpeg on the back of the camera I’m viewing the very best rendition possible of what the sensor has captured.

And it’s pointless having it any other way because when you’re shooting RAW then both Lightroom and Photoshop ACR ignore them anyway!

Accurate Camera Colour within Lightroom

So how do we obtain accurate camera colour within Lightroom?

We can begin to understand how to achieve accurate camera colour within Lightroom if we look at what happens when we import a raw file; and it’s really simple.

Lightroom needs to be “told” how to interpret the data in the raw file in order to render a viewable preview – let’s not forget folks, a raw file is NOT a visible image, just a matrix full of numbers.

In order to do this seemingly simple job Lightroom uses process version and camera calibration settings that ship inside it, telling it how to do the “initial process” of the image – if you like, it’s a default process setting.

And what do you think the default camera calibration setting is?

3 copy 900x577 Accurate Camera Colour within Lightroom

The ‘contrasty’ result of the Lightroom Nikon D4 Adobe Standard camera profile.

Lightroom defaults to this displayed nomenclature “Adobe Standard” camera profile irrespective of what camera make and model the raw file is recorded by.

Importantly – you need to bare in mind that this ‘standard’ profile is camera-specific in its effect, even though the displayed name is the same when handling say D800E NEF files as it is when handling 1DX CR2 files, the background functionality is totally different and specific to the make and model of camera.

What it says on the tin is NOT what’s inside – so to speak!

So this “Adobe Standard” has as many differing effects on the overall image look as there are cameras that Lightroom supports – is it ever likely that some of them are a bit crap??!!

Some files, such as the Nikon D800 and Canon 5D3 raws seem to suffer very little if any change – in my experience at any rate – but as a D4 shooter this ‘glitch in the system’ drives me nuts.

But the walk-around is so damned easy it’s not worth stressing about:

  1. Bring said image into Lightroom (as above).
  2. Move the image to the DEVELOP module
  3. Go to the bottom settings panel – Camera Calibration.
  4. Select “Camera Neutral” from the drop-down menu:
    4 900x577 Accurate Camera Colour within Lightroom

    Change camera profile from ‘Adobe Standard’ to ‘Camera Neutral’ – see the difference!

    You can see that I’ve added a -25 contrast adjustment in the basics panel here too – you might not want to do that*

  5. Scoot over to the source panel side of the Lightroom GUI and open up the Presets Panel

    5 copy 900x531 Accurate Camera Colour within Lightroom

    Open Presets Panel (indicated) and click the + sign to create a new preset.

  6. Give the new preset a name, and then check the Process Version and Calibration options (because of the -25 contrast adjustment I’ve added here the Contrast option is ticked).
  7. Click CREATE and the new “camera profile preset” will be stored in the USER PRESETS across ALL your Lightroom 5 catalogs.
  8. The next time you import RAW files you can ADD this preset as a DEVELOP SETTING in the import dialogue box:
    6 Accurate Camera Colour within Lightroom

    Choose new preset

    7 Accurate Camera Colour within Lightroom

    Begin the import

  9. Your images will now look like they did on the back of the camera (if you adopt my approach to camera settings at least!).

You can play around with this procedure as much as you like – I have quite a few presets for this “initial process” depending on a number of variables such as light quality and ISO used to name but two criteria (as you can see in the first image at 8. above).

The big thing I need you to understand is that the camera profile in the Camera Calibration panel of Lightroom acts merely as Lightroom’s own internal guide to the initial process settings it needs to apply to the raw file when generating it’s library module previews.

There’s nothing complicated, mysterious or sinister going on, and no changes are being made to your raw images – there’s nothing to change.

In fact, I don’t even bother switching to Camera Neutral half the time; I just do a rough initial process in the Develop module to negate the contrast in the image, and perhaps noise if I’ve been cranking the ISO a bit – then save that out as a preset.

Then again, there are occasions when I find switching to Camera Neutral is all that’s needed –  shooting low ISO wide angle landscapes when I’m using the full extent of the sensors dynamic range springs to mind.

But at least now you’ve got shots within your Lightroom library that look like they did on the back of the camera, and you haven’t got to start undoing the mess it’s made on import before you get on with the proper task at hand – processing – and keeping that contrast under control.

Some twat on a forum somewhere slagged this post off the other day saying that I was misleading folk into thinking that the shot on the back of the camera was “neutral” – WHAT A PRICK…………

All we are trying to do here is to make the image previews in Lr5 look like they did on the back of the camera – after all, it is this BACK OF CAMERA image that made us happy with the shot in the first place.

And by ‘neutralising’ the in-camera sharpening and colour/contrast picture control ramping the crappy ‘in camera’ jpeg is the best rendition we have of what the sensor saw while the shutter was open.

Yes, we are going to process the image and make it look even better, so our Lr5 preview starting point is somewhat irrelevant in the long run; but a lot of folk freak-out because Lr5 can make some really bad changes to the look of their images before they start.  All we are doing in this article is stopping Lr5 from making those unwanted changes.

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If you find this post useful and informative please could you help by making a small donation – it would really help me out a lot – whatever you can afford would be gratefully received.

Your donation will help offset the costs of running this blog and so help me to bring you lots more useful and informative content.

Many thanks in advance.


Lightroom Tutorials #2


Eagle 600x400 Lightroom Tutorials #2

Image Processing in Lightroom & Photoshop


In this Lightroom tutorial preview I take a close look at the newly evolved Clone/Heal tool and dust spot removal in Lightroom 5.

This newly improved tool is simple to use and highly effective – a vast improvement over the great tool that it was already in Lightroom 4.


Lightroom Tutorials  Sample Video Link below: Video will open in a new window


This 4 disc Lightroom Tutorials DVD set is available from my website at

How White is Paper White?

What is Paper White?


We should all know by now that, in RGB terms, BLACK is 0,0,0 and that WHITE is 255,255,255 when expressed in 8 bit colour values.


White can also be 32,768: 32,768: 32,768 when viewed in Photoshop as part of a 16 bit image (though those values are actually 15 bit – yet another story!).


Either way, WHITE is WHITE; or is it?



WIP00034947 Edit How White is Paper White?

Arctic Fox in Deep Snow ©Andy Astbury/Wildlife in Pixels


Take this Arctic Fox image – is anything actually white?  No, far from it! The brightest area of snow is around 238,238,238 which is neutral, but it’s not white but a very light grey.  And we won’t even discuss the “whiteness” of  the fox itself.


DSC6545 600x312 How White is Paper White?

Hen Pheasant in Snow ©Andy Astbury/Wildlife in Pixels


The Hen Pheasant above was shot very late on a winters afternoon when the sun was at a very low angle directly behind me – the colour temperature has gone through the roof and everything has taken on a very warm glow which adds to the atmosphere of the image.


WIP00052572 3 4 5 Edit 2 Edit 600x600 How White is Paper White?

Extremes of colour temperature – Snow Drift at Sunset ©Andy Astbury/Wildlife in Pixels


We can take the ‘snow at sunset’ idea even further, where the suns rays strike the snow it lights up pink, but the shadows go a deep rich aquamarine blue – what we might call a ‘crossed curves’ scenario, where shadow and lower mid tones are at a low Kelvin temperature, and upper mid tones and highlights are at a much higher Kelvin.


All three of these images might look a little bit ‘too much’ – but try clicking one and viewing it on a darker background without the distractions of the rest of the page – GO ON, TRY IT.


Showing you these three images has a couple of purposes:

Firstly, to show you that “TRUE WHITE” is something you will rarely, if ever, photograph.

Secondly, viewing the same image in a different environment changes the eyes perception of the image.


The secondary purpose is the most important – and it’s all to do with perception; and to put it bluntly, the pack of lies that your eyes and brain lead you to believe is the truth.


Only Mother Nature, wildlife and cameras tell the truth!



So Where’s All This Going Andy, and What’s it got to do with Paper White?


Fair question, but bare with me!


If we go to the camera shop and peruse a selection of printer papers or unprinted paper samplers, our eyes tell us that we are looking at blank sheets of white paper;  but ARE WE ?


Each individual sheet of paper appears to be white, but we see very subtle differences which we put down to paper finish.


But if we put a selection of, say Permajet papers together and compare them with ‘true RGB white’ we see the truth of the matter:


paper whites3 600x600 How White is Paper White?

Paper whites of a few Permajet papers in comparison to RGB white – all colour values are 8bit.


Holy Mary Mother of God!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


I’ll bet that’s come as a bit of a shocker………


No paper is WHITE; some papers are “warm”; and some are “cool”.


So, if we have a “warmish” toned image it’s going to be a lot easier to “soft proof” that image to a “warm paper” than a cool one – with the result of greater colour reproduction accuracy.


If we were to try and print a “cool” image on to “warm paper” then we’ve got to shift the whole colour balance of the image, in other words warm it up in order for the final print to be perceived as neutral – don’t forget, that sheet of paper looked neutral to you when you stuck it in the printer!


Well, that’s simple enough you might think, but you’d be very, very wrong…


We see colour on a print because the inks allow use to see the paper white through them, but only up to a point.  As colours and tones become darker on our print we see less “paper white” and more reflected colour from the ink surface.


If we shift the colour balance of the entire image – in this case warm it up – we shift the highlight areas so they match the paper white; but we also shift the shadows and darker tones.  These darker areas hide paper white so the colour shift in those areas is most definitely NOT desirable because we want them to be as perceptually neutral as the highlights.


What we need to do in truth is to somehow warm up the higher tonal values while at the same time keep the lowest tonal values the same, and then somehow match all the tones in between the shadows and highlights to the paper.

This is part of the process called SOFT PROOFING – but the job would be a lot easier if we chose to print on a paper whose “paper white” matched the overall image a little more closely.


The Other Kick in the Teeth


Not only are we battling the hue of paper white, or tint if you like, but we also have to take into account the luminance values of the paper – in other words just how “bright” it is.


Those RGB values of paper whites across a spread of Permajet papers – here they are again to save you scrolling back:


paper whites3 600x600 How White is Paper White?

Paper whites of a few Permajet papers in comparrison to RGB white – all colour values are 8bit.


not only tell us that there is a tint to the paper due to the three colour channel values being unequal, but they also tell us the brightest value we can “print” – in other words not lay any ink down!


Take Oyster for example; a cracking all-round general printer paper that has a very large colour gamut and is excellent value for money – Permajet deserve a medal for this paper in my opinion because it’s economical and epic!


Its paper white is on average 240 Red, 245 Green ,244 Blue.  If we have any detail in areas of our image that are above 240, 240, 240 then part of that detail will be lost in the print because the red channel minimum density (d-min) tops out at 240; so anything that is 241 red or higher will just not be printed and will show as 240 Red in the paper white.


Again, this is a problem mitigated in the soft proofing process.


But it’s also one of the reasons why the majority of photographers are disappointed with their prints – they look good on screen because they are being displayed with a tonal range of 0 to 255, but printed they just look dull, flat and generally awful.


Just another reason for adopting a Colour Managed Work Flow!



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Please note, I’ve not written this blog article for any other reason than to make its readers aware of the facts – no one pays me in cash or kind for any products mentioned in this article; it is written purely for information purposes; you do with this information “what you will”!

If you have any questions please feel free to drop me a line via email at



Colour Space & Profiles

andyastbury cameratorpint Colour Space & Profiles

From Camera to Print
copyright 2013 Andy Astbury/Wildlife in Pixels


Colour space and device profiles seem to cause a certain degree of confusion for a lot of people; and a feeling of dread, panic and total fear in others!


The reality of colour spaces and device profiles is that they are really simple things, and that how and why we use them in a colour managed work flow is perfectly logical and easy to understand.


Up to a point colour spaces and device profiles are one and the same thing – they define a certain “volume” of colours from red to green to blue, and from black to white – and all the colours that lie in between those five points.


The colour spaces that most photographers are by now familiar with are ProPhotoRGB, AdobeRGB(1998) and sRGB – these are classed as “working colour spaces” and are standards of colour set by the International Color Consortium, or ICC; and they all have one thing in common; where red, green and blue are present in equal amounts the colour produced will be NEUTRAL.


The only real differences between these three working colour spaces is the “distances” between the five set points of red, green, blue, black and white.  The greater the distance between the three primary colours then the greater is the degree of graduation between them, hence the greater the number of potential colours.  In the diagram below we can see the sRGB & ProPhoto working colour spaces displayed on the same axes:


colour space volume 600x595 Colour Space & Profiles

The sRGB & ProPhoto colour spaces. The larger volume of ProPhoto contains more colour variety between red, green & blue than sRGB.


If we were to mark five different points on the surface of a partially inflated balloon,  and then inflate it some more then the points in relation to the balloons surface would NOT change: the points remain the same.  But the spatial distances between the points would change, as would the internal volume.  It’s the same with our five points of colour reference – red, green, blue, black & white – they do NOT change between colour spaces; red is red no matter what the working colour space.  But the range of potential colours between our 5 points of reference increases due to increased colour space volume.


So now we have dealt with the basics of the three main working colour spaces, we need to consider the volume of colour our camera sensor can capture – if you like, its colour space; but I’d rather use the word “gamut”.


Let’s take the Canon 5DMk3 as an example, and look at the volume, or gamut, of colour that its sensor can capture, in direct comparison with our 3 quantifiable working colour spaces:


colour space volume2 600x595 Colour Space & Profiles

The Canon 5DMk3 sensor gamut (black) in comparison to ProPhoto (largest), AdobeRGB1998 & sRGB (smallest) working colour spaces.


In a previous blog article I wrote – see here – I mentioned how to setup the colour settings in Photoshop, and this is why.  If you want to keep the greatest proportion of your camera sensors captured colour then you need to contain the image within the ProPhotoRGB working colour space.  If you don’t, and you use AdobeRGB or sRGB as Photoshops working colour space then you will loose a certain proportion of those captured colours – as I’ve heard it put before, it’s like a sex change operation – certain colours get chopped off, and once that’s happened you can’t get them back!


To keep things really simple just think of the 3 standard working colour spaces as buckets – the bigger the bucket, the more colour it contains; and you can’t tip the colours captured by your camera into a smaller bucket without getting spillage and making a mess on the floor!


As I said before, working colour spaces are neutral; but seldom does our camera ever capture a scene that contains pure neutrals.  Even though an item in the scene may well be neutral in colour, camera sensors quite often skew these colours ever so slightly; most Canon RAW files always look a teeny-weeny ever so slight bit magenta to me when I import them; but there again I’m a Nikon shooter seem to have a minute greenish tinge to them before processing.


Throughout our imaging work flow we have 3 stages:

1. Input (camera or scanner).

2. Working Process (Lightroom, Photoshop etc).

3. Output (printer for example).


And each stage has its representative type of colour space – we have input profiles, working colour spaces and output profiles.


So we have our camera capture gamut (colour space if you like) and we’ve opened our image in Photoshop or Lightroom in the ProPhoto working colour space – there’s NO SPILLAGE!


We now come to the crux of colour management; before we can do anything else we need to profile our “window onto our image” – the monitor.


In order to see the reality of what the camera captured we need to ensure that our monitor is in line with our WORKING COLOUR SPACE in terms of colour neutrality – not that of the camera as some people seem to think.

All 3 working colour spaces posses the same degree of colour neutrality where red, green & blue are present at the same values irrespective of physical size of the colour space.

So as long as our monitor is profiled to be:


1. Accurately COLOUR NEUTRAL

2. Displaying maximum brightness only in the presence true white – which you’ll hardly ever photograph, even snow isn’t white.


then we will see a highly workable representation of image colour neutrality and luminosity on our monitor.  Only by working this way can we actually tell if the camera has captured the image correctly in terms of colour balance and overall exposure.

And the fact that our monitor CANNOT display all the colours contained within our big ProPhoto bucket is, to all intents and purposes,  a fairly mute point; though seeing as many of them as possible is never a bad thing.

And using a monitor that does NOT display the volume of colour approximating or exceeding that of the Adobe working space can be highly detrimental for the reasons discussed in my previous post.


Now that we’ve covered input profiles and working colour spaces we need to move on and outline the basics of output profiles, and printer profiles in particular.


colour space volume3 600x472 Colour Space & Profiles

Adobe & sRGB working paces in comparison to the colours contained in the Kingfisher image and the profile for Permajet Oyster paper using the Epson 7900 printer. (CLICK image for full sized view).


In the image above we can see both the Adobe and sRGB working spaces and the full distribution of colours contained in the Kingfisher image which is a TIFF file in our big ProPhoto bucket of colour;  and a black trace which is the colour profile (or space if you like) for Permajet Oyster paper using Epson UltraChrome HDR ink on an Epson 7900 printer.


As we can see, some of the colours contained in the image fall outside the gamut of the sRGB working colour space; notably some oranges and “electric blues” which are basically colours of the subject and are most critical to keep in the print.

However, all those ProPhoto colours are capable of being reproduced on the Epson 7900 using Permajet Oyster paper because, as the black trace shows, the printer/ink/paper combination can reproduce colours that lie outside of the Adobe working colour space.

The whole purpose of that particular profile is to ensure that the print matches what we can see on the monitor both in terms of colour and brightness – in other words, what we see is what we get – WYSIWYG!

The beauty of a colour managed workflow is that it’s economical – assuming the image is processed correctly then printing via an accurate printer profile can give you a perfect printed rendition of your screen image using just a single sheet of paper – and only one sheets worth of ink.


colour space volume4 600x472 Colour Space & Profiles

The difference between colour profiles for the same printer paper on different printers. Epson 3000 printer profile trace in Red (CLICK image for full size view).


If we were to switch printers to an Epson 3000 using UltraChrome K3 ink on the very same paper, the area circled in white shows us that there are a couple of orange hue colours that are a little problematic – they lie either close to or outside the colour gamut of this printer/ink/paper combination, and so they need to be changed in order to ‘fit’, either by localised adjustment or variation of rendering intent – but that’s a story for later!


Why is it different? Well, it’s not to do with the paper for sure, so it’s down to either the ink change or printer head.  Using the same K3 ink in an Epson 4800 brings the colours back into gamut, so the difference is in the printer head itself, or the printer driver, but as I said, it’s a small problem easily fixed.


When you consider the low cost of achieving an accurate monitor profile – see this previous post – and combine that with an accurate printer output profile or two to match your chosen printer papers, and then deploy these assets correctly you have a proper colour managed workflow.  Add to that the cost savings in ink and paper and it becomes a bit of a “no-brainer” doesn’t it?


In this post I set out to hopefully ‘demystify’ colour spaces and profiles in terms of what they are and how they are used – I hope I’ve succeeded!



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Please note, I’ve not written this blog article for any other reason than to make its readers aware of the facts – no one pays me in cash or kind for any products mentioned in this article; it is written purely for information purposes; you do with this information “what you will”!

If you have any questions please feel free to drop me a line via email at

Monitor Calibration with ColorMunki

Monitor Calibration with ColorMunki Photo

Following on from my previous posts on the subject of monitor calibration I thought I’d post a fully detailed set of instructions, just to make sure we’re all “singing from the same hymn sheet” so to speak.

Basic Setup

D4R7794 600x399 Monitor Calibration with ColorMunki

Put the ColorMunki spectrophotometer into the cover/holder and attach the USB cable.

D4R7798 600x399 Monitor Calibration with ColorMunki

Always keep the sliding dust cover closed when storing the ColorMunki in its holder – this prevents dust ingress which will effect the device performance.

BUT REMEMBER – slide the cover out of the way before you begin the calibration process!

colormunkiSpecCover 600x498 Monitor Calibration with ColorMunki

Install the ColorMunki software on your machine, register it via the internet, then check for any available updates.

Once the software is fully installed and working you are ready to begin.

Plug the USB cable into an empty USB port on your computer – NOT an external hub port as this can sometimes cause device/system communication problems.

Launch the ColorMunki software.

The VERY FIRST THING YOU NEED TO DO is open the ColorMunki software preferences and ensure that it looks like the following screen:

PC: File > Preferences

Mac: ColorMunki Photo > Preferences

Screen Shot 2013 10 17 at 11.28.32 600x416 Monitor Calibration with ColorMunki

The value for the Tone Response Curve MUST be set to 2.2 which is the default value.

The ICC Profile Version number MUST be set to v2 for best results – this is NOT the default.

Ensure the two check boxes are “ticked”.**

** These settings can be something of a contentious issue. DDC & LUT check boxes should only be “ticked” if your Monitor/Graphics card combination offers support for these modes.

If you find these settings make your monitor become excessively dark once profiling has been completed, start again ensuring BOTH check boxes are “unticked”.

Untick both boxes if you are working on an iMac or laptop as for the most part these devices support neither function.

For more information on this, a good starting point is a page on the X-Rite website available on the link below:

If you are going to use the ColorMunki to make printer profiles then ensure the ICC Profile Version is set to v2.

By default the ColorMunki writes profiles in ICC v4 – not all computer operating systems can function correctly from a graphics colour aspect; but they can all function perfectly using ICC v2.

You should only need to do this operation once, but any updates from X-Rite, or a re-installation of the software will require you to revisit the preferences panel just to check all is well.

Once this panel is set as above Click OK and you are ready to begin.


Monitor Calibration

This is the main ColorMunki GUI, or graphic user interface:

Screen Shot 2013 10 17 at 12.32.58 600x418 Monitor Calibration with ColorMunki

Click Profile My Display

Screen Shot 2013 10 17 at 11.17.49 600x416 Monitor Calibration with ColorMunki

Select the display you want to profile.

I use what is called a “double desktop” and have two monitors running side by side; if you have just a single monitor connected then that will be the only display you see listed.

Click Next>.

Screen Shot 2013 10 17 at 11.18.18 600x417 Monitor Calibration with ColorMunki

Select the type of display – we are talking here about monitor calibration of a screen attached to a PC or Mac so select LCD.

Laptops – it never hurts a laptop to be calibrated for luminance and colour, but in most cases the graphics output LUT (colour Look Up Table) is barely 8 bit to begin with; the calibration process will usually reduce that to less than 8 bit. This will normally result in the laptop screen colour range being reduced in size and you may well see “virtual” colour banding in your images.

Remedy: DON’T PROCESS ON A LAPTOP – otherwise “me and the boys” will be paying you a visit!

Select Advanced.

Deselect the ambient light measurement optionit can be expensive to set yourself up with proper lighting in order to have an ICC standard viewing/processing environment; daylight (D65) bulbs are fairly cheap and do go a long way towards helping, but the correct amount of light and the colour of the walls and ceiling, and the exclusion of extraneous light sources of incorrect colour temperature (eg windows) can prove somewhat more problematic and costly.

Processing in darkened room without light is by far the easiest, cheapest and most cost-effective way of obtaining correct working conditions.

Set the Luminance target Value to 120 (that’s 120 candelas per square meter if you’re interested!).

Set the Target White Point to D65 (that’s 6500 degrees Kelvin – mean average daylight).

Click Next>.

Screen Shot 2013 10 17 at 11.19.44 600x417 Monitor Calibration with ColorMunki

With the ColorMunki connected to your system this is the screen you will be greeted with.

You need to calibrate the device itself, so follow the illustration and rotate the ColorMunki dial to the indicated position.

Once the device has calibrated itself to its internal calibration tile you will see the displayed GUI change to:

Screen Shot 2013 10 17 at 11.20.26 600x416 Monitor Calibration with ColorMunki

Follow the illustration and return the ColorMunki dial to its measuring position.

Screen Shot 2013 10 17 at 11.20.49 600x416 Monitor Calibration with ColorMunki

Click Next>.

Screen Shot 2013 10 17 at 11.21.11 600x416 Monitor Calibration with ColorMunki

With the ColorMunki in its holder and with the spectrophotometer cover OPEN for measurement, place the ColorMunki on the monitor as indicated on screen and in the image below:

XR CLRMNK 01 Monitor Calibration with ColorMunki

We are now ready to begin the monitor calibration.

Click Next>.

The first thing the ColorMunki does is measure the luminosity of the screen. If you get a manual adjustment prompt such as this (indicates non-support/disabling of DDC preferences option):

ColorMunki Photo display screen 111 Monitor Calibration with ColorMunki

Simply turn adjust the monitor brightness slowly until the indicator line is level with the central datum line; you should see a “tick” suddenly appear when the luminance value of 120 is reached by your adjustments.

LCDs are notoriously slow to respond to changes in “backlight brightness” so make an adjustment and give the monitor a few seconds to settle down.

You may have to access your monitor controls via the screen OSD menu, or on Mac via the System Preferences > Display menu.

Once the Brightness/Luminance of the monitor is set correctly then ColorMunki will proceed will proceed with its monitor output colour measurements.

In order for you to understand monitor calibration and what is going on here is a sequence of slides from one of my workshops on colour management:

moncal1 600x427 Monitor Calibration with ColorMunki

moncal2 600x427 Monitor Calibration with ColorMunki

moncal3 600x427 Monitor Calibration with ColorMunki

moncal4 600x427 Monitor Calibration with ColorMunki

Once the measurements are complete the GUI will return to the screen in this form.

Screen Shot 2013 10 17 at 11.26.29 600x416 Monitor Calibration with ColorMunki

Either use the default profile name, or one of your own choice and click Save.

NOTE: Under NO CIRCUMSTANCES can you rename the profile after it has been saved, or any other .icc profile for that matter, otherwise the profile will not work.

Click Next>.

Screen Shot 2013 10 17 at 11.27.00 600x416 Monitor Calibration with ColorMunki

Click Save again to commit the new monitor profile to you operating system as the default monitor profile.

You can set the profile reminder interval from the drop down menu.

Click Next>.

Screen Shot 2013 10 17 at 12.32.58 600x418 Monitor Calibration with ColorMunki

Monitor calibration is now complete and you are now back to the ColorMunki startup GUI.

Quit or Exit the ColorMunki application – you are done!

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This blog really does need your support. All the information I put on these pages I do freely, but it does involve costs in both time and money.

If you find this post useful and informative please could you help by making a small donation – it would really help me out a lot – whatever you can afford would be gratefully received.

Your donation will help offset the costs of running this blog and so help me to bring you lots more useful and informative content.

Many thanks in advance.


Screen Capture logos denoting ColorMunki & X-Rite are the copyright of X-Rite.


Monitor Calibration Devices

Colour management is the simple process of maintaining colour accuracy and consistency between the ACTUAL COLOURS in your image, in terms of Hue, Saturation and Luminosity; and those reproduced on your RGB devices; in this case, displayed on your monitor. Each and every pixel in your image has its very own individual RGB colour values and it is vital to us as photographers that we “SEE” these values accurately displayed on our monitors.

If we were to visit The National Gallery and gaze upon Turners “Fighting Temeraire” we would see all those sumptuous colours on the canvass just as J.M.W. intended; but could we see the same colours if we had a pair of Ray Bans on?

No, we couldn’t; because the sunglasses behave as colour filters and so they would add a “tint” to every colour of light that passes through them.

What you need to understand about your monitor is that it behaves like a filter between your eyes and the recorded colours in your image; and unless that “filter” is 100% neutral in colour, then it will indeed “tint” your displayed image.


So, the first effect of monitor calibration is that the process NEUTRALIZES any colour tint in the monitor display and so shows us the “real colours” in our images; the correct values of Hue and Saturation.


Now imagine we have an old fashioned Kodak Ektachrome colour slide sitting in a projector. If we have the correct wattage bulb in the projector we will see the correct LUMINOSITY of the slide when it is projected.

But if the bulb wattage is too high then the slide will project too brightly, and if the bulb wattage is too low then the projected image will not be bright enough.

All our monitors behave just like a projector, and as such they all have a brightness adjustment which we can directly correlate to our old fashioned slide projector bulb, and this brightness, or backlight control is another aspect of monitor calibration.


Have you done a print that comes out DARKER than the image displayed on the screen?

If you have then your monitor backlight is too bright!


And so, the second effect of monitor calibration is the setting of the correct level of brightness or back lighting of our monitor in order for us to see the true Luminosity of the pixels in our images.


Without accurate Monitor Calibration your ability to control the accuracy of colour and overall brightness of your images is severely limited.


I get asked all the time “what’s the best monitor calibration device to use” so, above is a short video (no sound) I’ve made showing the 3D and 2D plots of profiles I’ve just made for the same monitor using teo different monitor calibration devices/spectrophotometers from opposite ends of the pricing scale.

The first plot you see in black is the AdobeRGB1998 working colour space – this is only shown as a standard by which you can judge the other two profiles; if you like, monitor working colour spaces.

The yellow plot that shows up as an overlay is a profile done with an Xrite ColourMunki Photo, which usually retails for around £300 – and it clearly shows this particular monitor rendering a greater number of colours in certain areas than are contained in the Adobe1998 reference space.

The cyan plot is the same monitor, but profiled with the i1Photo Pro 2 spectro – not much change out of £1300 thank you very much – and the resulting profile virtually an identical twin of the one obtained with the ColorMunki which retails for a quarter of the price!

Don’t get me wrong, the i1 is a far more efficient monitor calibration device if you want to produce custom PRINTER profiles as well, but if you are happy using OEM profiles and just want perfect monitor calibration then I’d say the ColorMunki Photo is the more sensible purchase; or better still the ColorMunki Display at only around £110.


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