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Photography Question 
Wendy Moghadam
BetterPhoto Member Since: 1/19/2007

Color Change in Digital Darkroom

When I look at a photo in IPhoto, Photoshop and Camera Raw, the colors are the same. When I look at the same photo in Bridge or when I check the preview in "save for the web" (in Photoshop) the colors look dull and off. I calibrated my monitor and I have taken the class From Monitor to Print, so all my color management settings are the same as before. I didn't have that problem before. What's going on? Help!

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7/17/2009 8:01:40 PM

Richard Lynch
BetterPhoto Member Since: 6/12/2005
Color Management issues can be perplexing. As the course suggests, usually the best way to solve them is to simplify. This means simplify handling and simplifying workflow. From the sound of what you are describing you are trying to pull off something more complex, and that can lead to inconsistency for a variety of reasons.
One thing that is not clear from what you say is what you are doing with the images specifically. Are you opening them in bridge directly off the camera? Does the same hold true for iPhoto and Photoshop? If the way you are handling the images is different, the results can be different. The process needs to make sense from beginning to end, and so does what you are doing with the programs you are employing. If the workflow has redundant points, or is inconsistent, the workflow will not yield absolutely predictable results. That you are involving other programs is complicating the workflow, but it is not clear why you would need all of these programs consistently as there is significant overlap.

The From Monitor to Print course covers color management and success using it with Photoshop/Elements in a closed workflow. This teaches the idea of how to handle images and their profiles in a closed circuit involving Photoshop and prepping images for print or web. While the effort with the images and steps you take should work in any program that is color management savvy, as you add on steps to the workflow you have to be sure all the components of that workflow are working together - no part of the process is an island. I can tell you that bridge is color management savvy, but you need to be sure color management is on. In this instance you need to check the Creative Suite Color Settings on the Edit menu in Bridge. My guess is that you do not have the Color Management set up, and you will receive a warning telling you as much. But again it is not clear why all these programs are involved in your workflow.
Along with questions about the workflow you are using lies the question as to why you are getting a duller result in some instances. The suggestion from the results you describe is that you are embedding a profile that is not always being recognized. It also suggests that the profile is likely a broad spectrum profile like Adobe RGB or Pro Photo. This explains the result in Bridge if color management is not set up because if Bridge is not recognizing the profile, it will assume sRGB and color and tone will appear compressed. The same will happen in Save for Web if the profile is being dropped by the preview because the file is being stripped of the profile.

When using Save for Web, a profile may not be being embedded depending on the file type and settings. A profile needs to be in the image to retain the color correctly for broader spectrum images (e.g., Adobe RGB or Pro RGB, sRGB will be more forgiving). In other words, the images will behave as you have them set up and as you have the different programs set up to recognize them. Web images are typically not profiled as web browsers are not typically color management savvy and assume sRGB.
One thing I recommend both now and in the course is to simplify your workflow. The more programs you juggle, the more likely you will run into inconsistencies and the less likely you are to maintain consistent image handling. And as I recommended in the course, staying closer to an sRGB workflow will tend to yield more consistent results in print and on the web. If you are using Adobe RGB on camera that is fine, but the images should be converted to sRGB in Photoshop automatically if the Color Management settings are defined that way ... and if you are using that path each time in your workflow, you will get consistent results. If you are using different paths in the workflow, the result can become unpredictable.

Color Management starts with calibrating your monitor and defining your Color Management settings, but how you push the image through the process (the 'workflow') is important as is knowing what changes in that workflow will result in. As the course suggested you need to test every change you make, as every change can produce nuance. Color choices you make (using Adobe RGB to capture and converting to sRGB, for example) need to be consistent, or you need to know when the process/workflow will change and for what reason(s).
So to fix this it seems you have to revisit the process defined in the course...look at how you are opening images and the impact of the steps you are using and how you may need to adjust your use of programs and how you handle color management. Something somewhere in the logistics has changed if the results are now different.

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7/20/2009 3:06:14 PM

Wendy Moghadam
BetterPhoto Member Since: 1/19/2007
  Thanks for taking the time to respond and reviewing the info from the class. I'm going over all my setting from the class and re-reading the material. I do remember you telling me I was using too many programs that do the same thing- and I remember questioning it IPhoto changes the pic somehow. I think I'll test a new group of photos and avoid IPhoto altogether to see if that helps.

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7/21/2009 8:57:09 PM

Wendy Moghadam
BetterPhoto Member Since: 1/19/2007
  Hi Richard- hope your still around
After trying different things and reading reading reading, I figured out that Bridge is the problem. I received Photoshop Extended for a gift ( it has Bridge, Photoshop and Lightroom). You advised to check the Creative Suite Color Settings on the Edit menu in Bridge- I don't have Creative Suite. I don't have that option in the Edit menu. So- I'm wondering if I take Bridge off my computer maybe that will help.
I went through all my setting from the class and recalibrated.
I do want to simplify- I still like Iphoto- I would have liked Bridge better but I know that is causing my problem.

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7/24/2009 8:35:05 PM

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