Sunday, May 31, 2009


Color is a part of our environment and a part of our awareness of it from early on. We take it for granted and usually learn to identify colors by name before kindergarten. Our first foray into mixing paints teaches us that mixing red and blue produces purple and mixing yellow and blue, green. And if we have the benefit of science teaching and physics that color is a property of light and behaves in certain ways. Otherwise color is taken for granted, even for photographers whose awareness can be expanded to understand that the primary components of color in light are red, green and blue, and the colors of inks and dyes are their complements, cyan, yellow and magenta.

But even with a photographic understanding of color functions and behavior, Color Management is often a world of confusion. And fortunately or not, Color Management is an essential to obtaining a color match between a photo displayed on a computer monitor and print output. Exactly why it is confusing may be due in part to the expectation that if a computer is involved it should reproduce the same color put into it in a print made by that computer - isn’t there any standard involved? Unfortunately not because when computers were brought to the desktop I don’t think anyone of the manufacturers was thinking any farther ahead than just getting established and surviving in a business that was a new frontier. So when color computer devices began to appear, each one reproduced color differently, and color independence has continued without any effort to standardize to this day.

Color Management is a scheme to essentially standardize color reproduction using a computer. It resulted from some of the major computer companies coming together and forming the International Color Consortium, the ICC. This organization developed the framework for color management as well as a standard color palette so everyone could reference the same colors using a computer. but many users are having difficulty implementing Color management to obtain a match between screen and print output, in part possibly for some photographers because there was no precedent, or corollary function in analog film photography. Or maybe because it is such an entirely abstract process.

Regardless, one Color Management service provider,, a few years ago put together an on-line resource library that has grown to be both comprehensive and easy to access most of the support information one would need to understand how Color management functions. So there is good help available at thanks to the good and generous people at Chromix in Seattle.

If you have a comment, they are welcome, so please post it. If you have a question you want me to answer please address an e-mail to David B. Brooks at:

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