Seeking Consistent Color
One extremely important goal of mine has always been to, and continues to be, consistently produce high quality, natural color fine art landscape prints. In addition to using top-of-the-line camera and lenses, professional Stylus Pro Epson 7900 printer, and 100% cotton rag archival paper, I also incorporate color management from image capture to the final print.
The colors I see on my monitor must be consistently produced on the final print. This doesn’t happen without color management.
Enjoying the performance
Imagine going to a concert of your favorite performer. You have high expectations of a great performance, filled with great music, instruments in tune, singers all on key. Your expectation is based on your past appreciation of the artist’s work.
Now imagine how the concert would sound if everyone tuned their instrument “to their ear”, without regard to the other instruments or to a standard tuning device. What might the results be? Would you still enjoy the performance?
Calibrating the Monitor
To me, color management is as important to my work flow as tuning an instrument to a calibrated tuner is to the professional performer.
In my own color managed work flow, all images are captured in Canon’s “Camera Raw”, essentially taking in the full colors of the given scene. Once imported into my computer, all images are viewed and processed on my wide-gamut NEC PAW monitor. This monitor provides my “eyes” into the images and is capable of seeing colors beyond what is typically available on the consumer monitors.
To ensure I’m viewing the most accurate colors, I use the X-rite ColorMunki Photo color calibration system, which includes a spectrophotometer and software. This calibration system effectively creates a reference point for all colors displayed on my monitor, and re-calibrates to that reference point each time I run the program (every two weeks).
Profiling the Printer
Equally important to the monitor calibration is creating a printer profile. I do not use a printing lab, and rather print all fine art prints myself, using my own Epson 7900 Stylus Pro large format printer.
Using the exact same paper as I do for all fine art prints, and employing the ColorMunki software and spectrophotometer, a printer profile is created. The printer profile controls how the colors will appear in the final print, on that specific paper, using that specific printer.
The Results – Consistently High Quality, Natural Color Images
I love to experiment. When I first started with color management, I printed a select few very colorful images as test prints. I wanted to see for myself the importance of color management and color calibration. Once I calibrated my monitor and created a printer profile for the specific paper and printer, my experimentation was over.
The end result – consistently high quality, natural color images.