Photography, White Balance and Colour Profiling

Hi Folks:

I wrote this out for a friend of mine and thought I should post it here as well. Back in 2010 we wrote a post on Photography and Colour Management, and this is complementary to that post.

When it comes to colour digital photography, many photographers are aware of white balance. If you’re not, this Wikipedia article on Colour Balance explains it well. The essential element is that the human eye sees subjectively (our eyes receive energy as light and our brains interpret what that energy means) whereas digital cameras see objectively. The human perspective is highly adaptable, so no matter where or when we find ourselves, if we see something white, we recognize it as white, no matter what colour it actually is. Cameras can’t do that. If you’re shooting .jpg images you select a white balance setting on the camera – daylight or incandescent or even auto – and the camera’s software shifts the information captured so that white looks, well, white. If you’re shooting RAW, the images captured have no integral white balance and one must be assigned during raw conversion.

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Photography and Colour Management

UPDATE: September 2, 2013  A month or so ago I did a Powerpoint presentation for our photo meetup group on the Essentials of Digital Photography as a starting point for a talk on Lightroom, and I created a video of that presentation.  This is complementary to but different from the post below.

Hi Folks:

This started out as a quick response to a friend from a local photography meetup group on how to profile her scanner, but some 5000 characters later I thought maybe I should simply post it here instead.  As I mention (several times) below, I’m far from being a colour expert, so at best this is a layman’s explanation.  Any errors are wholly mine, and if you want to add corrections in the comments below, feel free to do so.  Just remember that this is targeted toward the average reader! Continue Reading →