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Author Topic: Colour matching  (Read 2670 times)
RobinFaichney
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« on: October 18, 2012, 09:19:03 AM »
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Asking in the LR forum because LR is where I'm struggling at the moment, but this issue involves the whole camera to print chain.

I'm new not just to LR but to pretty much everything involved here. However, I need to get really good colour matching between the object photographed and the print, and I'm struggling, as I said.

I'm working in a studio, using flash with a meter and a grey card to get the right exposure and WB. I'm using a Canon 5Dii, LR4.2 on an iMac and an Epson SP 9900 printer. My monitor has been calibrated but even so I don't find soft proofing helps much, I'm making lots of small (A4) prints instead.

So I put a print beside the target object and the colour is not very close, and I don't have much idea what to do to fix it.

Obviously, I'm not expecting detailed instructions here, but I'm hoping there might be something I can do, or maybe buy, that will help me get moving in the right direction. I'm using ICC printer/paper profiles from the paper maker and the appropriate lens and camera profiles in LR ("Camera faithful") but should I try to improve on these somehow? Or is it just about getting experience with the Develop module controls?

I really don't think there's anything wrong with the equipment or the way I'm using it, apart from lack of knowledge and experience. When I print general photography, not aiming at close colour matching, I'm very happy with the results. But how can I profile the whole system, in effect at least, to optimise colour matching in prints from studio shoots?
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Steve House
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« Reply #1 on: October 18, 2012, 09:34:05 AM »
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It's going to be rare that ink on paper can exactly match the colour of an object photographed.  Imagine the subject is a red ball.  There are different dyes on different substrates with different behaviors to the light striking them in the ball and on the paper so while they can both be "red" it would be very unusual for them to be the exact same red.
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RobinFaichney
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« Reply #2 on: October 18, 2012, 11:39:32 AM »
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I probably should have mentioned that the target is generally a painting or drawing. Also, an exact match isn't required, though it needs to satisfy the creator of the original.
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Akro
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« Reply #3 on: October 18, 2012, 11:53:18 AM »
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Are you using a white balance reference card for the white balance or an 18% grey card?  As I understand it, some 18% grey cards are OK for exposure correction but may not be not completely color neutral.
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Steve House
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« Reply #4 on: October 18, 2012, 11:57:20 AM »
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Still holds true.  Paint and photo prints use different dyes and pigments on different substrates.  Even the paper the print is rendered on will make a difference in the colour rendition.  Plus your situation is compounded by the fact there are multiple colours in the original and in the reproduction.  Get the reds spot on and the greens will be off.  Adjust for the greeens and the reds go out.  You might be able to get one or two colours to match pretty well but it will be almost impossible to get all of them to match - this has been a problem with colour photography since the first colour processes appeared in the late 1800's.  You're best chance of getting it closer is to build your own profiles from the ground up rather then relying on the manufacturers profiles, photographing a test target under the studio conditions where you're working, printing it, and building a printer profile from it.  Of course there's a fair amount of time and expense involved with that if you don't yet own the necessary tools.
« Last Edit: October 18, 2012, 12:05:14 PM by Steve House » Logged
Jim Pascoe
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« Reply #5 on: October 18, 2012, 11:59:24 AM »
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If you are trying to please the original artist you might never manage!

If you are shooting in RAW and photograph a grey card in the picture - which is what I would do with the first shot.  Balance the colour in Lightroom on the grey card with the dropper tool, and then synch that WB setting across all the other pictures.  Not sure where 'camera faithful' needs to come into it.  If you have a good profile for your printer which will be using the right paper and ink, you should get a reasonable match.  I have done some fairly colour critical work like this and had no real problems.  You will probably not get an exact match with an original piece of artwork but should get quite near.  It sounds as if you have some flaw in your chain of work.
There are lots of obvious possible problems, such as double profiling, but you may know all that anyway.

Jim
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JeanMichel
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« Reply #6 on: October 18, 2012, 12:23:29 PM »
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Hi,
Whenever I read questions such as yours i find that the best answer is to recommend that the OP purchase the Luminous Landscape video tutorials (Camera to Print) and (Lightroom). I found these extremely useful to me, and I have been using the whole Adobe suites since 1996. The few hours spent with the tutorial will save you much time and money wasting ink and paper.
Jean-michel
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RobinFaichney
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« Reply #7 on: October 18, 2012, 12:32:02 PM »
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Are you using a white balance reference card for the white balance or an 18% grey card?  As I understand it, some 18% grey cards are OK for exposure correction but may not be not completely color neutral.

I'm using a card designed specifically for WB, thanks.
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RobinFaichney
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« Reply #8 on: October 18, 2012, 12:37:33 PM »
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Still holds true.  Paint and photo prints use different dyes and pigments on different substrates.  Even the paper the print is rendered on will make a difference in the colour rendition.  Plus your situation is compounded by the fact there are multiple colours in the original and in the reproduction.  Get the reds spot on and the greens will be off.  Adjust for the greeens and the reds go out.  You might be able to get one or two colours to match pretty well but it will be almost impossible to get all of them to match - this has been a problem with colour photography since the first colour processes appeared in the late 1800's.  You're best chance of getting it closer is to build your own profiles from the ground up rather then relying on the manufacturers profiles, photographing a test target under the studio conditions where you're working, printing it, and building a printer profile from it.  Of course there's a fair amount of time and expense involved with that if you don't yet own the necessary tools.

I understand the difficulties -- well, in general terms, anyway -- but in practice prints of original artworks that satisfy both the artists and their clients are made all the time. I'm only seeking to emulate what many other people are generating an income from. Thanks for the suggestion re making my own profile(s), I suspected it might come to that.
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RobinFaichney
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« Reply #9 on: October 18, 2012, 12:51:23 PM »
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...If you are shooting in RAW and photograph a grey card in the picture - which is what I would do with the first shot.  Balance the colour in Lightroom on the grey card with the dropper tool, and then synch that WB setting across all the other pictures.
That's what I'm doing at the moment, thanks.
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Not sure where 'camera faithful' needs to come into it.
I'm choosing that rather than Adobe Standard, in Camera Calibration. "Camera Neutral" is also available. These are Canon picture styles. Camera faithful seems warmer than Adobe standard, which to me seems too cool.
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If you have a good profile for your printer which will be using the right paper and ink, you should get a reasonable match.
I've just started using a new paper, Innova IFA12, and I'm not confident the profile (downloaded from the Innova site) is all that great. On the other hand, I haven't found any of the other papers I've used (all Epson) to be much easier to work with.
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I have done some fairly colour critical work like this and had no real problems.  You will probably not get an exact match with an original piece of artwork but should get quite near.  It sounds as if you have some flaw in your chain of work.
There are lots of obvious possible problems, such as double profiling, but you may know all that anyway.

Jim
I don't know "all that"! My setup is quite straightforward, all recently bought new apart from the camera, which was used, but I've no reason to believe there's anything wrong with it. What is "double profiling"??
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RobinFaichney
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« Reply #10 on: October 18, 2012, 12:57:21 PM »
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Hi,
Whenever I read questions such as yours i find that the best answer is to recommend that the OP purchase the Luminous Landscape video tutorials (Camera to Print) and (Lightroom). I found these extremely useful to me, and I have been using the whole Adobe suites since 1996. The few hours spent with the tutorial will save you much time and money wasting ink and paper.
Jean-michel
Thanks, actually I do have these, I guess maybe I need to be in less of a rush and spend more time with them. But it's frustrating when they say "adjust this until you get a look you like", when I'm trying to get as close as possible to an exact copy of something.
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Jim Pascoe
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« Reply #11 on: October 18, 2012, 01:03:23 PM »
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Robin - personally I have not set any of the picture styles - I must say I thought that if you were shooting raw they would not be needed.

Double profiling is where you specify the profile in LR, but then forget to disable any colour correction in the printer driver, thus effectively two profiles conflicting with each other.

Jim
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Steve House
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« Reply #12 on: October 18, 2012, 01:25:36 PM »
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Thanks, actually I do have these, I guess maybe I need to be in less of a rush and spend more time with them. But it's frustrating when they say "adjust this until you get a look you like", when I'm trying to get as close as possible to an exact copy of something.
  Then the closest possible match when you put the print alongside the original is the "look you like." <grin>  Something that the artist feels captures his original vision is certainly do-able but an exact match of all the colours in the print to the corresponding colours in the original is propbably not.
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hugowolf
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« Reply #13 on: October 18, 2012, 01:26:54 PM »
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I find that a grey card, even a very neutral one, only gets you in the ball park. I find a colour patch card better in long run – something like the GretagMacbeth ColorChecker card, of which there used to be a mini version, but it is now only available with their Passport thingy.

When you soft proof, are you seeing any out of gamut colours?

I would also suggest getting a custom profile made for the Innova paper. For probably about $30, and even if it shows minimal improvement, at least you could rule the profile out of the equation.

Other minor suggestions: Try camera neutral instead of faithful. If you are using perceptual, then try relative colorimetric (or visa-versa). Buy a sample pack of Hahnemühle papers, and try the German Etching with Hahnemühle's canned profile.

Brian A
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pflower
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« Reply #14 on: October 18, 2012, 02:38:43 PM »
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I would recommend an investment in an x-rite colorchecker passport.  I think there are other similar systems but I only know the x-rite one.  It allows you to make a profile of the camera as against a standard colour patch.  You then apply the profile to the pictures taken with that camera in Lightroom.  I profiled my Nikon D2x with this and the difference between the profile I created and the Adobe ones was of some significance.  It is certainly worth trying.
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stormyboy
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« Reply #15 on: October 18, 2012, 02:55:21 PM »
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I recall an earlier thread in which a QP Card was suggested as a useful tool for photographing artwork.
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elied
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« Reply #16 on: October 18, 2012, 08:15:42 PM »
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I recall an earlier thread in which a QP Card was suggested as a useful tool for photographing artwork.
Yep, that's what I use. Like ColorChecker they provide software that creates a profile for that particular camera and the particular illumination and deposits it in the proper folder so that it shows up in the profiles menu. And it costs half as much as the Passport.
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k bennett
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« Reply #17 on: October 18, 2012, 08:26:28 PM »
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The first thing I thought of when I read your original post was to recommend a Colorchecker. I notice a significant difference in the color of an image using the custom 5D2 profile that I generated with it, versus the Adobe Standard and any of the Adobe "Canon" profiles. Toggling back and forth makes it very obvious.

(Interestingly, there is much less difference between the custom and built in profiles for my 1D Mark IV.)

I found the Colorchecker easy to use.
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Equipment: a camera and some lenses.
RobinFaichney
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« Reply #18 on: October 19, 2012, 03:58:56 AM »
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Thanks very much for all of these comments. Looks like custom profiles of both paper and camera, along with time spent studying the LuLa videos, is the way to go. I'll probably get the QP Card system for the camera (50% cheaper!) but are there any recommendations for a custom paper profiler? I'm in the UK.
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Rhossydd
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« Reply #19 on: October 19, 2012, 04:35:13 AM »
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are there any recommendations for a custom paper profiler? I'm in the UK.
You could try us www.colourprofiles.com <Blatant plug other profilers are available>
PM me and we should be able to help with some non standard extras for Lula contributors in Europe.
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