Colour profiling is a professional standard to interpret colour across all the operating systems, computer applications, input and output devices.
One of the biggest challenges in photography is how to achieve perfect colour of the images. Colour of the images have to be accurate and consistent and it is determined by the colour temperature of the subject, which in turn is governed by he colour temp. of the lights used. Changes between different images is influenced by the reflective colours within the environment of the setup also. Thus each and every image should be colour calibrated, using colour swatches ( QP card) and grey cards inserted within the image. This way a test shot is taken with reference colours and used as a reference for colour profiling the of the image. Once this image is taken, the grey card and colour swatches are removed for the final shot.
Below: Before shooting the final photograph, we keep the QP card for calibrating the colours under the actual lighting conditions. The actual lighting set up is not shown in this illustration for professional reasons.
The importance of a good display:
The camera, Raw processing and post production software and monitors should be colour profiled and assigned an ICC profile before you begin the photography session. This should be a practice that should be followed by every serious photographer.
One has to bear in mind that different colour monitors display images with slight difference due the differences in their setup and age. Thus all the monitors used for capture, Raw processing and post production preferably should belong to one manufacturer. Every manufacturer has their individual calibration methods and standards.
Every monitor used should have similar character in native colours and gamma. For this all the monitors should be calibrated every 15 days. The system at our studio is followed by using the cutting edge colour calibrators from SPYDER. We have all the monitors from Mac.
The new RGB standard is Adobe 1998 for all media related work. It has the maximum reproducible colour gamut unlike sRGB. For offset printing care should be taken for CMYK conversion, you may loose some brilliance in the printing.
Camera RAW images:
Digital Professional photography is executed on a CCD sensor that is housed in Digital backs, unlike CMOS sensors in DSLRS.
CCD sensors produce crisp images when compared with CMOS sensors. Images shot on either of the sensors have an option to capture images in RAW format.
All professionals must shoot in 16 bit RAW because it gives the highest quality in tonal range and colour accuracy. The down side is that it adds a very time consuming process to convert these images from RAW to Tiff on very expensive software. Of course there are cheap converters available and some are even free with the DSLRS.
Using cheap converters lead to average results.
RAW conversion is a process where you can tweak the image to perfection in terms of tonality, colour correction and sharpness overall or to localized areas of the image. This is a lossless process as compared to using Photoshop for these tweaks. During this stage it is important that you use professionally calibrated display.