Colour management in photography.

I have always maintained that anyone who is serious about photography and would like to share his/her work must have his/her workflow tuned to the proper standard at every stage of his/her workflow. The philosphy is simple – from the minute you click the shutter till the time you share the image with the community the image must look almost the same at every stage of the digital photography workflow. There should not be any significant changes in contrast, colour shifts or loss of highlight or shadow details. This obviously applies to those viewing your shared images through their respective monitors too. Otherwise any technical comments on the image will not be valid.

So what colour space is recommended? It is recommended that unless one is working in a studio, one is better off using one of the two commonly used editing spaces, sRGB or Adobe RGB (1998). I am a strong advocate of Adobe RGB (1998) simply because of its wider gamut. It also reproduces more vivid greens and reds than sRGB. The catch is should you decide to share the finished post-processed product in the net you must convert the Adobe RGB (1998) profile to sRGB. Otherwise the image will appear washed out.


Digital camera

My recommendation then is to set your in-camera (and Adobe Photoshop) colour space to Adobe RGB (1998). This is easy enough. Go through the utility menu of your camera and you will see this option of colour space selection. Look up your camera’s manual if necessary.


Adobe Photoshop

I have mentioned and recommended the usage of the Adobe RGB (1998) colour space for your post-processing software (Adobe Photoshop CS5 in my case). It is important that you do this before using Photoshop.

Photoshop’s default color space is sRGB which is the correct color space for Web posting. However sRGB is really a very limited color space, much smaller than what printers can actually produce. I strongly suggest you to change this to Adobe RGB (1998). You do this by going to Edit> Color Settings.


Click it and this dialog box appears. Click on the drop-down menu under Settings and change it to North America Prepress 2. The Working Spaces RGB will be automatically changed to Adobe RGB (1998).

Your job here is not finished yet.

Change the RGB in Color Management Policies to this:

One final step. For Profile Mismatches, turn off the Ask When Opening checkbox. That way, your old photos will automatically update to match your current working space when you re-open them in Photoshop.

Then click OK.

Your Photoshop is now ready for some serious post-processing.

Always remember to convert the profile to sRGB before you share the processed image in the net. The following step will show you how to do just that.

Go to Edit>Convert to Profile and click.

 In the dialog box change the Profile in Destination Space to sRGB IEC61966-2.1. This is the long technical form of sRGB.

Click OK and the resultant image will be converted to sRGB ready to be posted into the web maintaining its vibrant colors as intended.






4 Responses to “Colour management in photography.”

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