Category Archives: Training

Color Confidence announces Digital Imaging Workshop

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Color Confidence, Europe’s leading supplier to the photography market, are hosting a Digital Imaging Workshop to teach both amateur and professional photographers how to get accurate colour from digital images. The event will take place at The REP in Birmingham on Wednesday 19 November and can be customised to suit a variety of needs.

The day comprises of a free morning session, with the option to book onto an interactive afternoon of activities and seminars (for a nominal charge of £10, which includes lunch and refreshments).

There will also be a trade and exhibition area open throughout the day where attendees can take advantage of exclusive offers and promotions from some of the world’s leading manufacturers, including NEC, X-Rite, DxO, EIZO, Macphun Software, Epson, Manfrotto and Tecco.

The morning session offers a seminar from Richard Curtis, Principal Solutions Consultant at Adobe, followed by insight into Andy Kruzcek’s approach to Fashion and Beauty photography. There will also be an exclusive preview of the latest imaging software from DxO.

The afternoon has three specific activities, with attendees having the option to choose two of the three sessions that best meet their needs. Activities include a Photowalk with professional photographer Andy Kruzcek and an Adobe workflow seminar with Richard Curtis. These intimate sessions will have a maximum of 15 people per group and allow attendees to gain greater insight into the guest speakers.

Alternatively, guests have the option to book specialist 1-2-1 training with vendors that will be exhibiting at the event. The technical specialists will be available all day to answer any questions or queries.

Color Confidence offer a range of professional training courses and consultancy services with packages to suit users of all levels, from individual photographers and imaging professionals, to large-scale publishing houses and multinational companies.

All attendees to the Digital Imaging Workshop will get automatic entry into a prize draw to win a brand new NEC monitor. The winner will be announced on the day.

For more information about Color Confidence, visit: www.colorconfidence.com. To register a place at the event, visit: diw.colorconfidence.com.

Get stunning Black and White images this September

Nik Software Silver Efex Pro 2 – save 10% off this September

Silver Efex Pro 2 is Nik Software’s flagship image enhancement plug-in software which gives you the power to create truly stunning black and white images.

A major upgrade from their award-winning Silver Efex plug-in, many professional photographers considers Silver Efex Pro 2 to be the definitive solution for re-creating the intricate quality, depth and impact of traditional darkroom black and white photography.

Key features will give you the power to amaze:

  • Amplifying Blacks and Whites increases the presence of highlights and shadows adaptively throughout the image, creating a unique contrast effect
  • Visual Presets characterised by photographic style, provide great single-click starting points which can be edited and shared with others
  • Fine Structure brings out even the smallest details and textures resulting in more visible image detail without creating an over-sharpened look

Take a look at the product here, and don’t forget to save 10% off this September.

Why not come and see it in action for yourself?

Every so often we run a drop-in day at our Birmingham HQ which gives you the perfect opportunity to quiz us on all things colour management, and come and see our extensive product range in action, demoed by our expert technical team.

Our latest drop-in day takes place on Tuesday 25th September at our Birmingham head-office, come and have a look at:

  • Our extensive range of colour accurate, professional standard monitors
  • Exceptional image enhancement software packages
  • How to calibrate your display properly
  • How to match your screen to your printouts

And better still, our drop-in days are totally free!

Learn more, and register here.

Exploring Nik Software – Part 1

Our next selection of blog entries investigates all things image editing with Nik Software plug-in, with a detailed look at each plug in, and how it could benefit you.

Why Nik Software, and who are they?

Adobe Photoshop, Aperture and Lightroom; arguably the cornerstones of image editing that enable you to apply sophisticated and highly complex techniques. To some extent, to fully benefit from professional control and results can take months, or even years of regular uses.  This can mean you develop the skills of a professional Photoshop user, rather than that of a professional photographer! However, without good knowledge of these systems, you may not be able to achieve what you want to.

This is where the Nik Software range of plug-ins becomes invaluable.

Nik provide a range of plug-ins that allow the user to apply filters and effects to images in a far more intuitive way than other applications. What could be a time-consuming and complex task in Photoshop becomes more straight-forward using a Nik plug-in.

These plug-ins also include techniques which can’t be done through Photoshop, Lightroom or Aperture alone – extending the capability of your main photo-editing application.

The Nik collections is made up of 6 plug-ins – you can either get individually, or as a full collection – which together form a logical photographic workflow. They all share an interface with the same look and feel. They work by creating a separate layer in Photoshop or copy in Lightroom and Aperture, so the original image always remains.

How does it work?

Nik use a feature called ‘Upoint Technology’. Basically, this allows you to adjust and edit your images using control points which are selectively placed on your image. Multiple control points can be placed on the image to enable the range of effects or filters to be increased, or decreased based on your requirements.

So, that’s how they work, now let’s have a look at each Plug-in to see what they do… This week we look at Dfine 2.0 and Viveza 2.

Dfine 2.0


Dfine essentially removes noise from digital photographs. All digital cameras exhibit noise which can increase with higher ISO (sensitivity) settings. Noise usually displays itself as speckled colour and contrast effects, which in turn causes loss of clarity and detail.

Dfine smooths out this noise without harming the original image quality. It is particularly useful for photographers shooting in low light environments where you may need to increase camera sensitivity.

Viveza 2


Viveza 2  is all about complex colour adjustments. Placing a control point on an area (see UPoint Technology above) allows you to edit the underlying colour with a set of sliders. These sliders allow you to adjust the contrast, brightness, saturation and structure of that particular colour.

The coverage of this effect and how far it spreads can also be controlled, allowing you to be really precise. In Photoshop, this can only be done with a combination of masks, selections and dodge.burn techniques. Viveza 2 is much simpler, and more accurate.

Next week we look at Color Efex Pro 3 and HDR Efex Pro.

cmyk dots

Colour Reference Guides part 2 – media types

Last week we blogged about the types of colour referencing guides and formats available for you to use when referencing colour.

This week, part 2 sees us look at the types of media these reference guides use, and how that may affect your choice of reference guide.

You may see reference guides being described in the below ways:

Coated - This means the paper which the colours are printed on has a surface coating so that the inks sit nicely on the paper. This results in a vibrant, bold printed colour.

Uncoated - A more ‘natural’ feel than coated media. It is easier to write on, but colours appear flatter due to the ink being absorbed by the paper.

Newsprint & Recycled - This is a lower grade of paper which normally produces a ‘dirty’ or off-white colour. The paper itself has a high-level of ink absorbency producing dull, muted printed colour.

Which one should I go for?

As you can imagine, it depends on what the guide is required for. Generally, Coated guides are the most popular due to their vibrancy. However, Uncoated guides will probably give you a better reflection of what you can expect to be printed out. Newsprint/Recycled media will be best suited for newspaper adverts, which normally require CMYK 4-colour prints.

The sort of print processes – or paper – you are using may also determine which colour reference guide to go for. So what printing processes are there?

Types of Print Process

CMYK 4-Colour - A range of colours can be achieved through printing a combination of Cyan (C), Magenta (M), Yellow (Y) and Black (K) which combine and mix on the paper during the print process. The resulting colours aren’t high on vibrancy, but the CMYK 4-colour process is required for the reproduction of photographic type images, or multiple flat areas of colour. CMYK prints are made by printing a mixture of coloured dots which blur to produce the desired colour.

Spot Colour Printing - In this method, inks are mixed to achieve specific colours before they are applied to the printing press. Mixing ‘recipes’ are provided for the print companies alongside each colour reference, in this case, found in Pantone Formula Guides. Specially made Pantone mixing scales are also available to help the mixing process. Spot printing produces a cleaner, more consistent image than CMYK.

Textile, Plastic, Paint… - Unlike printing ink onto paper, colouring textiles, plastics and other materials have far more variables. For such processes, rather than colour recipes being created, manufacturers of the raw materials are certified for producing pre-colour specified materials.

 Is there anything else I need to consider?

The final piece of the colour reference and print jigsaw is the visual assessment of colour afterwards. It is worth considering how the light and environment in which you review colours may affect how it looks.

You can read about viewing conditions and how they affect what you see in our blog post, here.

An introduction to using ColorMunki Display

Installation

Your box contains the ColorMunki software on disc and the first step is to load that onto your machine, by following the simple on-screen prompts or video tutorials if you need them.

If you use a Windows operating system, the Hardware Wizard will automatically launch and install the drivers for the device.

Now launch the ColorMunki software.


Software Preferences

Before you begin the process of calibrating your monitor display or projector, you can set and personalise your software preferences, to ensure that you deliver the results for your project and viewing needs.

The ‘preferences’ tab is located in ‘menus’ at the top of the on-screen interface panel and offers the following settable options, which we recommend as follows:

  • Tone Response Curve: Set to the default 2.2
  • ICC Profiler Version: If you use older design software, you should set to version 2, newer edition user should select version 4
  • Achieve Display Luminance Value using video LUTs: Check this tick box if you use a monitor that can be too bright even at minimum brightness, these include iMac displays
  • Enable ADC: Check this option as it allows the software to take control of your monitor and make the relevant adjustments in the key areas
  • Technology Type: Simply select the type of backlight that your monitor uses. If you are not sure, CCFL is a good start point

Check ‘OK’ when you are happy with all your preference settings


The Process

One of the advantages of ColorMunki Display is that you can calibrate both monitor displays and projectors.

For the purposes of this overview, we will walk through how to calibrate a monitor display.

  • Select ‘Profile My Display’ from the menu of options on the right-hand side of the on-screen interface.
  • Select the ‘Advanced’ option that is presented, as this allows you to work with optimum control
  • Next set the ‘White Point’ – D65 will suit almost all users
  • Set the ‘White Luminance’ to automatically match ambient lighting or to a value that suits your personal environment. A darkened room is ideal and for optimum results you can also ask the software to monitor the effects of ambient lighting for you.


Taking advantage of Advanced Options

  • Ambient Smart Control, measures the effects of ambient light and then automatically adjusts your display’s contrast, saturation and tone for optimum results
  • Flare Correct – compensates for any light or glare that falls directly onto your screen, it is a good feature to use in conjunction with adding a monitor hood in creating the most accurate working conditions.


Let’s Calibrate

  • Rotate the integral Diffuser Arm away from the lens of the ColorMunki Display and then simply place against the screen of your monitor as centrally as possible
  • Adjust the counter weight on the cable so that it hangs over the top of the monitor case and holds the device squarely in place on the screen
  • Click ‘Next’ on the on-screen interface to start the measurement process
  • If your monitor is ADC compatible, any adjustments will be automatic. If not, you will be asked to make some minor settings adjustments – all of this is intuitive, clear and prompted on-screen
  • Next, it is best to measure any glare that is falling onto your screen as this will affect the final profiles. Simply, position the device as requested on-screen by your software and click ‘Measure

You are now essentially done!


Save Your New Profile

Name your profile as you wish and click ‘Save’ – you can also ask the software to diarise a re-calibration date, and we would suggest that you do this for a reminder every calendar month to sustain your colour accuracy and consistency.

Before & After

A Before & After comparison allows you to view the effects of the calibration process that you have just undertaken.

A range of default images can be accessed to prove the effects of the profiling  or you can load your own comparison images by accessing the ’Image’ drop-down menu.


Finally…

The final step is to enable ‘Ambinet Light Monitoring’ – but only do this if you elected to use the ambient light features when you created the profile.

The benefit of enabling this feature is that automatic adjustments will be made based on how ambient light changes throughout the day within your working environment.

You can also ask the software to flag any recommended adjustments so that you can apply manually if you prefer.

An introduction to using i1Display Pro

Installation

The next-generation i1 Profiler software included with the i1Display Pro should be loaded as your first step – do this before you plug the device into your machine via the USB port.

If you use a Windows operating system, when you do plug the device in, the new Hardware Wizard will automatically launch and install the new drivers.

Once this happened, launch the software.

The software is incredibly intuitive, and the on-screen interface panel offers both text and video instructions, as well as ongoing prompts toward what you need to do next, if anything.

It is worth adding that the i1Profiler software is the same as that which is bundled with the X-Rite I1 Photo Pro & Publish Pro systems, so will offer you options for printer profiling on the interface – ignore this option if you do not own the latter devices.

Setting Calibration Targets

With the software installed, the on-screen interface will now ‘pop up’ and ask you a series of questions in terms of setting your calibration and further preferences.

  • Technology Type – From the drop-down list, select the backlight type relevant to your display. If you are unsure which is relevant, CCFL is a good starting point – you can also select ‘Projector’ from this list if you wish to profile that device
  • White Point Can be set at a choice of relevant values. D65 will suit most users
  • Luminance – Select the relevant value from the options list, establish a custom value based on your requirements or measure ambient light in your environment for optimum accuracy
  • Contrast Ratio – Your default setting should be ‘Native’ – you can add your own values, which is effective when matching one screen to another
  • Flare Correct – This allows you to compensate for any glare or light falling onto your monitor display and neutralises it during the profiling process
  • Ambient Light Smart Control – Measures ambient lighting in your working environment and then automatically adjusts your monitor’s contrast, tone and saturation

Now click on ‘Profile Settings’ to move to the next stage of the process.

Profile Settings

Again, the on-screen interface will now ask you to select settings for the following aspects:

  • ICC Profiler Version – If you are using older design software you should select the ‘Version 2’ option – for newer software, check ‘Version 4
  • Profile Type – Select ‘Table Based’ as your first choice, which is more accurate than ‘Matrix’ – Note: your ‘older’ software does not support ‘Table Based


Setting Colour Patch Range

The i1 Profiler software utilises 119 colour patches to generate an accurate profile – you can also import additional colours if you wish.

You would do this for colour specific project work.

Additional colours can be loaded via the included PANTONE Color Manager Software, or via a loaded image – this opportunity is accessible via the clear icon above the patch sets that will be displayed on the user interface.

Let’s Calibrate

To begin this process, the interface will prompt you to set some final values:

  • Automatic Display Control (ADC) – Check this, as it will allow the software to take full control of your monitor and make relevant adjustments
  • Brightness & Contrast – If your monitor is not compatible with the standards that the ADC uses, then you will need to make any adjustments manually – this is simple, clear and you will be prompted to do so if need be

Ensure that the diffuser arm is over the i1 Display Pro’s lens and position the device roughly where you might position a paper print if you were comparing it to an image on the screen.

Now click as prompted to start the ‘measuring process’.

  • During this process you will be prompted to make any relevant flare and ambient light measurements (if you have selected these options at set-up)

And that is essentially it – the profile will now be automatically created


Naming & Saving Your ICC Profile

Your ICC Profile has been automatically created.

Give it an appropriate name and save it.

The software allows you to diarise the next calibration test and we would recommend that you set this for each calendar month to maintain consistent accuracy and for ongoing peace of mind.


Gamut, Look Up Table and Before & After

Your created profile will be displayed as a graph of the gamut on your on-screen interface.

You can fine-tune this if you wish and click on the line of the graph to inspect the changes made in your monitor’s graphics card during the profiling process.

You can also select the ‘image icon’ and see the direct effects of your calibration with a ‘before & after’ image.


Quality Assurance

You can further click on the ‘arrow’ next to the ‘Display QA’ button, to access further tests to clarify the accuracy of your profile.

The Patch Set type can be set to ‘standard’ to load one of the default sets and the software will then evaluate how accurate your monitor is against those patch references.

The patches from the ColorChecker, IT8 Charts and FOGRA Media Wedge are also accessible for optimum referencing.

You can also load Spot Color testing charts via the PANTONE Color Manager Software or by uploading your own images and extracting colour test values from them.

Select the ‘Start Measurement’ option to begin the automatic evaluation of your monitor


Quality Assurance Report

When measurement is complete, a summary of results will be displayed on-screen.

Generally, you should be aiming to achieve Delta E of less than 2 and a maximum of less than 4.

This is of course only a rough guide, and you will want to achieve values specific to you project needs.

These reports can all be saved and will contribute to the ‘trending data’ which evolves over time.


Trending

A ‘trending graph’ can be displayed by selecting it on the interface and provides a very useful guide to how your monitor alters over time.

The i1Profiler software also offers a module for checking monitor uniformity, which is a useful additional assessment tool.

A view on lighting conditions

Part 3 of our learning themed blogs takes another look at lighting conditions.

All the way back in deepest, darkest December, we blogged about the light in which you view any printed image. Today’s post takes things a little further, and as always, links you to information in our learning centre with a free PDF download should you wish to print it out in full for your own use.

You may wonder why the light in which you view prints is important?

Well…

You go to the trouble of setting the correct white point to match the ambient lighting, and use a neutral balance reference for checking white point and exposure when taking the photograph, why not make sure the light in which you view prints is as accurate as possible?

“The light in which you view your prints is crucial.

“It is important to assess images in consistent and correct viewing conditions. The colour of a print will look different from one lighting condition to another. From natural daylight to a fluorescent tube or to tungsten, images can look warm, cool, flatter and less vibrant.

“Daylight (5000°k or D50) is the industry standard for viewing prints. Working near a window during daylight hours provides a good natural solution, but what happens for consistency when it gets dark? It is also important to consider your working environment and position of your monitor to avoid unacceptable reflections on the screen.

“Viewing booths from Just Normlicht and GTI are available to provide a correct neutral backdrop and perfect 5000°k illumination. Superior units will also include a dimmer switch as a specified temperature can cover a range of intensities. Models with dimmer switches allow the intensity of the light to be adjusted to match the brightness of the
monitor.”

The above was written by Simon Prais, our technical director here at Color Confidence. He’s also a bit of an expert on all things viewing conditions, and wrote a brief but detailed paper on the subject which can be downloaded in this PDF.

In a sense, we can see that the light in which you view your prints is equally as important as the profiling and calibration that goes into the capture and editing stages.

There are a range of options available on our website, from desktop lights to luxurious viewing booths should you decide to go pro!

Adam Borriello
Social media & marketing.

Colour management; a few Q&A’s

Part 2 of our Learning Centre influenced blog posts follows on from last weeks ‘an overview of colour management’.

So, you now hopefully know what colour management is – roughly – but I imagine these have raised a few questions…

We talked about profiling in our previous post, but “how does your system compensate for the differences between profiles?”

“The straight answer to this is that it doesn’t! A monitor does not work to a colourspace rather it attempts to reproduce colour as closely as possible. This is exactly why monitor profiling is so essential. A monitor profile optimises your monitor to only produce colours it is capable of using the known data saved in the profile, thereby not creating colour distortions. Put simply without a monitor calibration device you cannot truly trust your monitor. If you do start  looking at rendering intents I would suggest further reading, however for most photographic work the perceptual rendering intent is suitable.”

I’ve profiled my monitor fine, but there’s this new sRGB and Adobe RGB thing, “what’s the difference between them and when should they be used?”

“The main difference between sRGB and Adobe RGB is quite simply the size – Adobe RGB is a significantly larger colour gamut.

“Advantages of using AdbobeRGB in photography are:

  • Blue/Cyan and yellow colours of increased saturation can be achieved in a photograph when printing from the AdobeRGB colourspace. The increased cyan/blue will be visually more noticeable than the yellow.
  • The flexibility of using other types of output device with the potential of future devices able to achieve more saturated ranges of colour.

“Advantages of using sRGB in photography are:

  • Many computer monitors will only display colours to a colour saturation as defined by sRGB. Therefore this is appropriate as it avoids colours that cannot be accurately displayed on a monitor.
  • Many cameras are configured to work as a default in sRGB. Avoiding conversions between colourspaces reduces the potential for errors.

“There is no single, correct working space to operate in and it depends on the type of photography you are undertaking but for minimum fuss and maximum control, use sRGB, however if you want to capture as much as possible and make amends to colour from the top down then using AdobeRGB may be just fine.”

The above was an extract taken from our colour management Q&A document which you can download for free here. You’ll also see an extra 2 questions on the pdf, which will be particularly useful if you’re a bit confused with CMYK/RGB printing, or are struggling to grey balance an image in Photoshop post-shooting.

As ever, if you have any questions or problems, comment below and we’ll do our best to answer them!

Adam Borriello
Social media & marketing

Colour management: an overview

This latest segment of colour confidence blog posts will link to information from our Learning Centre, and hopefully give you an insight into a range of topics you may find a bit puzzling!

First stop is colour management itself; what is it exactly, and why do you need it?

“Have you ever wondered why your digital camera pictures don’t look the same when displayed on your monitor? Or why they look different again when printed out? The answer is that no two devices display colour in the same way. Every device has its own colour range or gamut. Every camera and scanner captures colour differently. Even two
monitors of the same model and type will display slightly different results.

“To keep your colour consistent from device to device, you need colour management. At the heart of colour management is the process of profiling (also known as ICC profiling). By profiling a device, you can ensure it is displaying colour correctly within its capabilities, based on industry standards. Once the profiles are in place, you can make sure colour is reproduced in the same way by all devices – to put it simply, you can get your printer to create a print that looks as close as possible to the picture on your monitor.

“While this may sound complicated, most colour management products are designed to make the process as simple as possible, using automation and easy to use, wizard-based software. In as little as ten minutes, you could profile your entire system.”

So, colour management is the process to help you keep colour accurate and consistent throughout your workflow. But what ways are there to introduce or commence the colour management process?

There are 3 primary ways to help you get accurate colour:

  1. Profiling your monitor
  2. Profiling your printer
  3. Profiling your camera

All three have their own solutions, and all three have their own processes to help you achieve accurate colour. Crucially though; when these methods are combined – you start getting incredible results.

Want to know more about the why and the how to start profiling – download our colour management pdf which explains the processes a little further.

You can then check back to colorconfidence.com to see which solutions might be best for you.

Happy profiling!

Adam Borriello
Social media & marketing

Expert Introductions to…

I mentioned last week that we’re now offering great training opportunities.

Well, I’m pleased to report that we have our first course offering three bite-sized modules! Topics will cover an introduction to the key areas of colour management and digital imaging – with the intention of sharpening your skills and helping you gain a better understanding.

Three 30 minute sessions will cover:

  1. Light & Shade – Ever wondered how can you create the optimum physical environment to capture that perfect image, or whether you can accurately match what you see on-screen to what you print? Both answers will probably involve a consistent light source, or perhaps something like a PChOOD addition to correctly configure your monitor.
  2. Profiles and Colour – We’ll overview the basics of this important subject – specifically, just what is a ‘profile’ exactly? How should you use them? What is the difference between sRGB and Adobe RGB – and when should you use them?
  3. Choosing the rightMonitor – Monitors are a crucial component to the colour manager, and as a result, buying a new one is a major decision. We look to highlight the key things to look out for when deciding which monitor is right for you and your needs. Don’t understand all the technical jargon – we’ll do our best to explain it all. We’ll also compare and explain choosing between big and small gamut, IPS versus sPVA panels, brightness, resolution and lots more

Training takes place at our Spectrum Point HQ in Birmingham. Attendees will also have the chance to participate in practical demonstrations of the advantages of working in RAW workflow and using the award-winning ColorMunki.

If you’re interested, click here for more information.

We’re looking to do more of these sessions too, so if there’s anything you’d like us to cover, please let us know or comment below!

Adam Borriello
Social media and marketing