Accurate versus 'emotionally correct' colour.

Discussion in 'Casual Photo Conversations' started by rodeo_joe|1, Mar 25, 2021.

  1. Bet that cat had a serious hangover.

    " I would say that some of the best, what you might consider "creative genius," pondered this mightily, trying to understand how color is seen and how to mix paints to create the impressions they wanted" Bill C.

    Thought I was expressing that thought. Hey Ho. Think, the impression they wanted.

    Accurate colour relates to commercial photography the end.

    "Accurate color is not limited only to photography" Bill C

    Many of the artists, we consider as creative genius, ignored such silliness. Indeed, they were always looking at new techniques, different ways, untrodden before to express their Art. Sort of feel Bill C , you are on a committee, blessed from above, to purvey the knowledge of the committees perception of true colour.

    A special mission, from above, that has been blessed from him/her upstairs;)
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2021
  2. I only shoot digital and in RAW. So unless I've got the exposure completely wrong, most things can be salvaged/adjusted in PP. So I repeat: for important (deliverable) photos, I always do a 'by the book' color correction (with tonal adjustménts). But my eyeball" adjustments (cooler, warmer, color balance) are definitive and depend on the photo. In general, I tend to go for slightly more warmth.
  3. " I tend to go for slightly more warmth" Mike

    Tut, tut;)
  4. This is gonna be long and tedious, mainly for Allen. It's mostly about me and how I eventually got to be on the "true colour committee," in Allen's words, "blessed from above."

    I made a full-time living in photography, originally wanting to be a photojournalist, admiring many of the Life Magazine photographers. I was able to buy my first serious camera, a used Rolleiflex, by shooting weddings for a local guy while I was still in high school. I quit the weddings when I took a traveling job doing high-volume portrait work- I thought it was time I learned to use professional studio flash; this was with long-roll portrait cameras, 70mm pro color negative. I had somewhere around 40-50 thousand portrait subjects - that's enough to fill a major league baseball stadium - under my belt when I moved into lab work. Don't think these are like school pics - these were every age group, infants to adults, and every single one you work hard to get good expressions.

    I went into lab work "temporarily" to learn about the mysteries of color processing. Like everything else I learned ground up, ran processors and operated printers. When they had an opening in the QC department I was lucky enough to get in as wet-behind-the-ears tech. I learned the ropes from another young guy - our primary duties were in "process control," reading control strips, calibrating replenisher flowmeters and adjusting rates, etc., and collecting chemical samples for the chemical lab. My boss had a chemistry degree, and he got the company into bulk mixing, etc. I and my fellow tech did all the dirty prototype work, doing all the pilot mixes. A companion department was headed by a fresh RIT photo science grad, and I learned a great deal from him. I was finding all of this more interesting and challenging than actually using a camera.

    Eventually I became the QC manager, the department now having a full-time chemist, a couple of general purpose techs who could do anything lab-related, a full-time product inspector doing semi-random inspection of the ready-to-ship product (under the supervision of the RIT guy, a statistics specialist) and a full-time inspector for our in-house camera repair shop - strictly our own equipment; the company owned literally thousands of portrait studios. The department did about anything photo-related that was not officially under another department.

    New film/paper being considered? We did all the sensitometric testing as well as preliminary test shooting. My techs would set up an in-house test studio, etc. We'd get a variety of models, and shoot a wide exposure range - from maybe a couple stops underexposed to perhaps five stops over. The film processing department runs the film, along with a control strips, my techs make sure everything is good. Then everything is printed by one of the production departments. 8x10s to start. The "normal exposure" is hand-balanced for best skin color within "1 cc" color (this is by committee; there is some disagreement at the 1 cc level, but NOBODY disagrees beyond 2 cc). Next, every other exposure is hand-balanced to match the flesh highlights of the "normal exposure" reference. These are the basis for our film evaluations.

    If it's a brand new film or paper we are typically part of a trade trial; I've been involved in something like a dozen of these with, for example, Kodak, Konica, and Fuji. Typically there will be 6 or 8 film and emulsion engineers from the vendor, along with a handful of marketing and sales staff who will be meeting with the company management. So the tech people will have brought a variety of pre-exposed test materials for us to process in our seasoned machines, etc., and they want us to print certain things. We have panel discussions about the results of our test shots, and they ask, can they get copies of our test prints? Certainly, what sizes and how many do you want?

    I've been involved with the company's original digital printing efforts (before ICC profiles were a thing, I believe). I used to make the tonal response curves for dye sub printers in our field locations. Around this time a group in one of the production areas got one of the X-rite digital swatchbooks; they were working with prototype Kodak LED printers and presumably this had been recommended. And this was an eye-opener for me - in 3 or 4 seconds it could take spectral readings of a test patch (the later i1 units do this near instantly) and the ColorShop software would give results in CIELAB, or whatever you want- even as Status M densitometry. This is also where the Fred Bunting booklet came from - still about the best primer on color that I know of.

    When high-quality digital cameras finally became available - they cost in the range of $25 to 30 thousand dollars US - we met with all the major players. We already had several dozen Sony cameras, also in the same price range, that were the first serious studio design cameras - these were running in a group of experimental studios. But they were a 3-chip design using a prism set-up to separate colors; consequently these were unlikely to ever become "cheap." So we partnered with a fledgling "hardware" group to build a ground-up digital camera for studio use. I was the primary color guy so began getting educated in the ICC systems. Anyway, on and on.

    Eventually I got onto the true colour committee, only for, but still blessed from above as Allen puts it. In this capacity I can have people like rodeo_joe tell me about the usefulness of Macbeth ColorCheckers, or Glen explain about why or why not his flash photos were taken with flash.

    Occasionally I think about bailing out of, but where else could I make the kind of money I do on the true colour committee? (This is tongue-in-cheek if it needs to be said.)
  5. AJG


    I appreciate your contributions to PhotoNet--I did some experiments with early Unicolor materials and Cibachrome as well. My conclusions at the time were that doing this well and repeatably would be beyond my capabilities without a lot of investment in machines and training, and that I was better off finding good labs to do my printing and color processing since I did not want to run a custom lab to justify the expense. I'm glad that you continue to respond to questions with your knowledge and experience; you are one of the reasons that I enjoy PhotoNet.
  6. Thanks AJG, it's nice to hear that at least someone finds interest in my somewhat verbose posts.

    Fwiw I've mostly shared your view that it has historically been more cost effective to have a pro lab doing your work, but that's not much of an option anymore.

    Fwiw I'd say that a careful worker, given enough experience, could probably do high quality work at home, albeit at a much higher labor cost - probably on the order of ten times higher, or more. So it's not a very sensible way to do commercial work. But for someone with a lot of time on their hands... who knows? I'll be glad to answer any related questions I can, so feel free to ask.

    Fwiw the later versions of VPSIII, then Portra 160, optically printed onto the appropriate pro papers could do beautiful work with studio portraits. When we did test shooting we could lay prints out in a color booth, then lay out some of the actual fabrics used in the shooting - they would be nearly a dead match. Color charts very close too. But again, it's gotta be on the pro papers. It took us some time before we could make digital prints, studio portrait work, as good as optical Portra prints in side-by-side comparisons. Most people wouldn't see this though - without side-by-side comparison either one can be plenty good. And digital is much easier.
  7. @bill c. Though I understand very little of your post and the technology of color science, I appreciate your knowledge. Likewise people like digital dog etc. I've never had to exactly match a color existing in the world or in print media, line art etc. in order to share it with a printer or other creatives. But I have had to calibrate my monitors with each other and to a standard so when I had a service print a photo, it would look like the file I sent. That's what I always thought of as "color accuracy". From friends that design line art for printing and products they told me they often were required to use "call out colors" like Pantone or whatever is the required system so they know what their client gets is what they intended when matching colors to a product lie for instance without actually seeing it on their monitors perfectly. It's great to have some of the resources here on of color professionals.

    BTW, I used to shoot Portra 160 as well, one of my favorite films.
  8. Not sure what point is being made, but a good example of a sunset taken with AWB by the look of it. Which takes us right back to my original post.
    And where, exactly, did I do that Bill?
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2021
  9. Sorry, I was thinking it was here. But it was a different thread...

    Looks like my link won't hop over there, but it was your thread called "Colour checker app?"
  10. The thread in which you accused me of not knowing the use of a colour checker? And where you went off at a tangent completely ignoring the question I asked?

    Reading a whitepaper on artificial colour comparators (or not) in no way addressed what was asked.
  11. I don't recall making an "accusation," reference, please.

    You DID ask, "Non-starter or worth pursuing?" then "Thoughts, please?" So I responded, "Non-starter." Then proceeded to give some of my thoughts.

    But rather than hash it out here, why not just hop back to that thread? I have an alert set on it...
  12. Thanks Barry. Re: understanding, I've almost completely lost my sense of what "regular" people or photographers follow, lingo-wise. In person I would always be asking, do you know what it means when I say such-and-such, then adjust the level of explanations up and down accordingly. In a forum like this, though, it's hard to judge. So you should always feel free to ask if want a different level explanation.

    People have done that sort of thing for me forever, so I'm glad to carry it on. The whole thing of color reproduction, to me, is especially interesting. (I see "accurate" color reproduction as being the case where you have an original thing which you photograph, then make a print, and then compare the two side by side to see if they look the same.) What we're doing in photography is to take a real world object, with a continuous spectral makeup, then try to mimic it with a limited set of dyes, or whatever. It all relies on humans having three color sensing functions (aka, red, green, blue) then essentially tricking those responses so as to produce the same "appearance."
  13. "View attachment 1384518

    Not sure what point is being made, but a good example of a sunset taken with AWB by the look of it. Which takes us right back to my original post." rodeo_joe|1

    Indeed, it does take us right back to your original post.

    The photo was heavily manipulated and not AWB balanced colour. The point being, what is emotional colour, or, true colour? Neither, only what you perceive it to be.

    "This is gonna be long and tedious, mainly for Allen" Bill C.

    Thanks for sharing Bill C, I always enjoy reading a photographic journey and did not find it long or tedious.
  14. Way back in photo school, they told us for a color error to be acceptable, it had to be in the warm direction. Gotta please the masses.

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