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Author Topic: One more reason why color management confuses the general user.  (Read 8839 times)

mouse

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One more reason why color management confuses the general user.
« on: December 07, 2015, 05:25:28 pm »

Based upon what I have found at several photographic web sites, White House Custom Color

WHCC

is one of the more highly recommended firms providing quality online printing.  I have used them myself and obtained very good (if not outstanding) results.  The following is excerpted from their site.  Unfortunately I think it only contributes to the general misunderstanding of color management and preparation of an image for online printing.   :(
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Here’s how to properly setup your Adobe Photoshop Color Settings:
1. Open Photoshop
Mac OS X Users: Go to Photoshop in the Menu Bar > Color Settings
Windows Users: Go to Edit in the Menu Bar > Color Settings
2. Select a Working Space for RGB Files.
We recommend either Adobe RGB (1998) or sRGB IEC61966-2.1.
If you are unsure, you probably want sRGB IEC61966-2.1.
3. Select "Convert to Working RGB" next to RGB under Color Management Policies.
4. Check "Ask When Opening and Ask When Pasting" next to Profile Mismatches.


Color Calibration & File Management

How do I calibrate to your printers?
You don’t calibrate directly to our printers. You calibrate your monitor and generate a monitor profile that software like Photoshop uses to show you accurate color on your screen. We calibrate and balance our printers to create a printer profile. Using a standard working color space like Adobe RGB 1998 or sRGB and embedding this in your file allows our printer software to make sure what is printed is what you saw on your screen. We recommend all clients perform hardware monitor calibration. This is a relatively straightforward and simple procedure. We recommend the i1Display Pro and ColorMunki Display by Xrite.

Do you supply any profiles?
Yes. Once you have an account number, you can download ICC profiles for soft proofing purposes. The profiles are for all of our printers and we also have instructions on how to properly use them. Under no circumstances should you convert to our printing profile or embed it in your files.

Should I embed an ICC profile?
Embedding a valid ICC profile in your image is very important. Without embedding the profile our software has no idea what colorspace your file is in. This will result in unexpected color in the prints. All files not tagged with an embedded profile are assumed to be in sRGB.

What colorspace do you accept?
We recommend using a standard working space profile such as Adobe RGB 1998 or sRGB. However, we accept any colorspace as long as it is embedded in the file. Our software will read the colorspace embedded in the file and print appropriately.


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D Fosse

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Re: One more reason why color management confuses the general user.
« Reply #1 on: December 07, 2015, 05:46:11 pm »

Aside from "convert to working", which is usually a bad idea, what's the problem with this?
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digitaldog

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Re: One more reason why color management confuses the general user.
« Reply #2 on: December 07, 2015, 06:27:19 pm »

Aside from "convert to working", which is usually a bad idea, what's the problem with this?
That's the biggest problem I see, at least for the 'novice' PS user. Of course, the idea of using a profile to soft proof you can't use to convert is kind of goofy. Might as well just tell people to send sRGB and forget soft proofing. With a profile you can't fully use, what RI do you use (what RI does the lab use)? Black Point Compensation? Is the profile really reflecting the output conditions? If so, why can't the user just convert and be done? I recall one lab with all the same kinds of equipment that did offer actual profiles for use (soft proof and conversions) and didn't care what RGB working space you used. Pictopia. Out of business unfortunately. Perhaps no good dead goes unpunished. But that lab offered a full color managed path.
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digitaldog

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Re: One more reason why color management confuses the general user.
« Reply #3 on: December 07, 2015, 06:31:07 pm »

Unfortunately I think it only contributes to the general misunderstanding of color management and preparation of an image for online printing.   :(
It's not a egregious as the article that appeared last week on MacWorld (in case you didn't see it): http://forum.luminous-landscape.com/index.php?topic=106238.msg873659#msg873659
The WHCC article compared to the ridiculous piece by Lisa Snider comes across as a white paper by the ICC!
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Slobodan Blagojevic

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Re: One more reason why color management confuses the general user.
« Reply #4 on: December 07, 2015, 06:53:28 pm »

Aside from "convert to working", which is usually a bad idea...

Remind me why?

fdisilvestro

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Re: One more reason why color management confuses the general user.
« Reply #5 on: December 07, 2015, 07:13:03 pm »

Remind me why?

It performs automatically a rel-col conversion without giving you the opportunity to make any adjustments before converting. Also, suppose you have ProphotoRGB as your working space and you need to edit a 8 bit jpeg; you might not want to convert to ProPhoto RGB.

digitaldog

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Re: One more reason why color management confuses the general user.
« Reply #6 on: December 07, 2015, 07:18:08 pm »

Remind me why?
Because it forces a conversion of all images regardless of their color space. With the Warning check box off, SUPER dangerous. You have all nature data in differing color spaces. The setting automatically coverts that data upon opening the files. Now say you are a web designer and the only working space you'll ever need or want is sRGB. The setting could automate this conversion but again, unless you're in a very rare boat and know what you're doing, it's a very bad policy!


http://digitaldog.net/files/Photoshop_Color_Settings.mov
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Doug Gray

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Re: One more reason why color management confuses the general user.
« Reply #7 on: December 07, 2015, 07:50:45 pm »

Because it forces a conversion of all images regardless of their color space. With the Warning check box off, SUPER dangerous. You have all nature data in differing color spaces. The setting automatically coverts that data upon opening the files. Now say you are a web designer and the only working space you'll ever need or want is sRGB. The setting could automate this conversion but again, unless you're in a very rare boat and know what you're doing, it's a very bad policy!

http://digitaldog.net/files/Photoshop_Color_Settings.mov

Exactly. Agree with your other points too. When I see a printer that says that on their site I just move on. They aren't usable.
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Slobodan Blagojevic

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Re: One more reason why color management confuses the general user.
« Reply #8 on: December 07, 2015, 08:01:10 pm »

... Also, suppose you have ProphotoRGB as your working space and you need to edit a 8 bit jpeg; you might not want to convert to ProPhoto RGB.

Again, why not?

I am not arguing it is a good thing, because I simply do not know enough to claim one way or another, but so far I only heard it is a 'bad policy," but not why.

If I remember correctly, I read at some point that, if you want to work on that 8-bit jpeg, it is still a good idea to convert it to 16 bit first. Is it not so? And by the same token, shouldn't it be beneficial to work in a wider color space if one is to manipulate color significantly?

Again, these are genuine questions, not meant to be argumentative.

digitaldog

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Re: One more reason why color management confuses the general user.
« Reply #9 on: December 07, 2015, 08:27:57 pm »

Again, why not?
I am not arguing it is a good thing, because I simply do not know enough to claim one way or another, but so far I only heard it is a 'bad policy," but not why.

Thought I pointed out why it is a bad policy with a rare exception and for people who have a really good handle on color management and Photoshop color behaviors.
Set the Policy for Preserve, what you end up with after opening the data as it existed before you opened the data. You can always convert that data (and do a Save As...).
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Stephen Ray

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Re: One more reason why color management confuses the general user.
« Reply #10 on: December 07, 2015, 08:33:04 pm »

Consider this company’s primary customer base. Wedding/portrait photographers and the general public. Not fine art landscape photographers. There have been MANY new wedding/portrait startups and new photographers in the last 10 years because it’s relatively easy to begin. Many of these startups and novices never get as far as to understand “convert.”

It has always been the photo lab’s job to make a photographer’s work better. I would venture to say that a very large portion of the thousands of files this large company receives every day are underexposed. The same was prevalent in the film days of a photo lab too. Nowadays, one of the surest ways to get dark prints is to work at a dark computer station. New photographers shoot the event all day and then try to edit all night. They tier of that grind quickly and eventually turn the task back over to the photo lab where it belongs. It’s the world of Gary Fong followers and not that of a fine art photographer.

Therefore, depending on the service/price category the photographer asks for, each and every file could get optimized via color balance and density by a human operator. This is the norm and always has been. The machines can do a great job automatically but a skilled operator can produce an even better print when needed. Furthermore,

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“Under no circumstances should you convert to our printing profile or embed it in your files.”

Could simply be because they have multiple machines with profiles that get optimized (especially for trending gray balance) and refreshed often which is separate from the download page. You can soft proof using the download for Luster but they will actually use the latest profile for Luster Machine Number 6 when they send it to image.

Fine art landscape photographer didn’t get a perfect print the first time? Buy another round of color. It’s no different than making another round of color on the in-house inkjet other than time for shipping. Frustration factor is the same too, except one can now “blame the lab.”
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digitaldog

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Re: One more reason why color management confuses the general user.
« Reply #11 on: December 07, 2015, 08:51:20 pm »


It has always been the photo lab’s job to make a photographer’s work better.
Pretty much the opposite of prepress (send the CMYK numbers as is). Neither is necessarily better or ideal. If you have good RGB values for output, the last thing you want is some lab mucking with the RGB values.
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I would venture to say that a very large portion of the thousands of files this large company receives every day are underexposed.
What would be ideal is a workflow option for those who don't know what they don't know (my files are 'under exposed') and for those that do know (my RGB values are correct based on sound color management). Unfortunately few labs provide both options! They try to give their customers  the often false idea that they have good process control (do they?) they are color managed (why can't I use the profile for both soft proof and conversion?). Frankly the 'just send us sRGB' is a workflow for their benefit, less so for their customers. Easier to funnel everything through the pipeline.
 
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Could simply be because they have multiple machines with profiles that get optimized (especially for trending gray balance) and refreshed often which is separate from the download page. You can soft proof using the download for Luster but they will actually use the latest profile for Luster Machine Number 6 when they send it to image.
Could be they have crappy or non existing process control! Easy to test, few do so.
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It’s no different than making another round of color on the in-house inkjet other than time for shipping. Frustration factor is the same too, except one can now “blame the lab.”
Sorry I disagree, it's a lot different. The in house printer can fully control the color management process. Some don't know how to, but that's an education issue. With sound color management, the in house printer should be able to nail the print the first, maybe 2nd time. They have ICC Profiles they can fully use and don't have to be forced to ever consider sRGB.
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D Fosse

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Re: One more reason why color management confuses the general user.
« Reply #12 on: December 08, 2015, 03:38:49 am »

Is the profile really reflecting the output conditions?

In this case they say it does. They even explicitly say profiles, in the plural, so probably specific to paper/printer.

In any case, let's be realistic. This is aimed at the average user with little prior knowledge and as such this looks very sound to me. At no point do they say "just send us sRGB", but they do say use sRGB if you're not sure. That's still sound advice.
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D Fosse

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Re: One more reason why color management confuses the general user.
« Reply #13 on: December 08, 2015, 03:49:05 am »

Again, why not?

Simply because you don't want to convert unnecessarily, and certainly not wholesale without any control over individual files.

If you know the implications and are fine with that, it's no problem. But again, aimed at average users who don't understand what it means, it's not a good idea.
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digitaldog

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Re: One more reason why color management confuses the general user.
« Reply #14 on: December 08, 2015, 09:19:14 am »

At no point do they say "just send us sRGB", but they do say use sRGB if you're not sure. That's still sound advice.
They say send sRGR or Adobe RGB and nothing else!
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D Fosse

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Re: One more reason why color management confuses the general user.
« Reply #15 on: December 08, 2015, 09:25:44 am »

That's nitpicking  ;)  It's clearly stated that they accept anything, as long as the profile is embedded.

Again, this is aimed at average users with little prior knowledge and it must be read as such, not as a treatise on ultimate color management practices. If that was their aim, it wouldn't be understandable to the majority of their customers, and they'd lose business.

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digitaldog

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Re: One more reason why color management confuses the general user.
« Reply #16 on: December 08, 2015, 10:57:09 am »

That's nitpicking  ;)  It's clearly stated that they accept anything, as long as the profile is embedded.
But NOT the output profile, that's the point! The text provided states:


Under no circumstances should you convert to our printing profile or embed it in your files.

A customer is provided a profile for soft proofing they can't use to convert. That's silly. It's not nitpicking. Do you believe that all rendering intents are the same, that image A may output better with RI A vs. RI B or even C? Or that an ICC profile know anything about color in context? What RI does the lab force on their customers and which are they supposed to use to soft proof?

This is a seriously silly, half backed color management workflow to be kind. IF as you suggest, the profiles define output behavior, that output behavior is consistent, then a customer should be able to select any RI from the profile provided for soft proofing and send that in for output. Clearly the lab states that's not allowed.
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Again, this is aimed at average users with little prior knowledge and it must be read as such, not as a treatise on ultimate color management practices. If that was their aim, it wouldn't be understandable to the majority of their customers, and they'd lose business.
That's your assumption of all customers and sorry, I'm going to suggest it's rubbish. The lab could provide output profiles a more savvy customers could apply to his data and the lab could output the RGB numbers as is. Or provide the "just send us sRGB (or Adobe RGB (1998)) for the so called dumb, average customer base you suggest involves all customers. The lab(s) don't proved that option. One did, it's gone but the facts are, it's entirely possible to provide both options. The facts are, these labs are more interested in pushing files through their systems and providing an illusion that they are color managed.

Are you really suggesting that a customer who can setup a soft proof with the profiles provided he can't fully use, cannot go one step farther and use the Convert to Profile command and then "Save As..."? Of course that customer could with little more education and better, select the rendering intent he visually prefers.
« Last Edit: December 08, 2015, 11:19:30 am by digitaldog »
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D Fosse

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Re: One more reason why color management confuses the general user.
« Reply #17 on: December 08, 2015, 01:55:22 pm »

<sigh>

Just for the record, I'm not suggesting the average customer is dumb. He or she may just spend their time on other things than the study of color management. Your "savvy" customers wouldn't use this anyway, they'd print themselves.

« Last Edit: December 08, 2015, 02:04:10 pm by D Fosse »
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digitaldog

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Re: One more reason why color management confuses the general user.
« Reply #18 on: December 08, 2015, 03:24:10 pm »

Just for the record, I'm not suggesting the average customer is dumb. He or she may just spend their time on other things than the study of color management. Your "savvy" customers wouldn't use this anyway, they'd print themselves.
Well you can, but it would be nice and useful (I do respect your opinions) about the lab demanding sRGB OR Adobe RGB (1998) yet providing profiles only for soft proofing. Makes no sense to me.
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mouse

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Re: One more reason why color management confuses the general user.
« Reply #19 on: December 08, 2015, 04:09:16 pm »

It's not a egregious as the article that appeared last week on MacWorld (in case you didn't see it): http://forum.luminous-landscape.com/index.php?topic=106238.msg873659#msg873659

That's certainly true.  And we are all aware that the web is littered with articles by self styled experts who confound rather than enlighten (caveat emptor).  However my disenchantment with this company (and their web site instructions) stems largely from my earlier impression that they ranked very high among discerning photographers for the quality of their online printing service.  Thus their stature (as I previously viewed it) allows them a platform to confuse and mislead those (myself included) who are just coming to grips with rational color management.

Andrew has pointed out one of the most egregious flaws: Providing a profile for soft proofing but insisting that one not convert the image to this space.  That made my head spin.

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