A blog that focuses on the photography of Dean J. Birinyi, an interior and architectural photographer based in San Francisco, CA.

Tricks of the Trade: Critical Color

Residential Bathroom
San Mateo, CA
Melissa Nierman
Rutt of Los Altos
Today’s “Tricks of the Trade” article is about reproducing color accurately through monitor calibration.

All photographers go to great lengths ensuring the color of their images are reproduced accurately. We use software and hardware that calibrates our cameras, monitors and printers to ensure the final images look the way we expect, this principle is called WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) with a properly calibrated system using modern technology we can reproduce color accurately across all our device and other devices that are calibrated using ICC (International Color Consortium) color profiles.

To get accurate color reproduction on a computer monitor you must use a color calibration system such as the Datacolor Spyder, fortunately there are many different devices from several firms and the cost has come down dramatically in the past few years.

Another factor to consider is the quality of the monitor itself. A low cost monitor is not sufficient for accurate color display even if calibrated properly. A good quality monitor is as critical a tool for a photographer as a good quality lens. Unfortunately most of my clients have monitors that either came with their computer, or were purchased based on cost effectiveness rather than quality of color reproduction. A good quality monitor that will allow accurate reproduction of color will cost in the area of $1000.00 (US), but there are models costing five times as much or more. The cost is significant and the calibration needs to be done quite frequently, but the benefit you receive from your investment is knowing-with certainty-that what you see on the monitor in your office is an accurate representation of the color of the photograph, paint or fabric.