Photography tip no.04: Cyan – get off my face!
Last days I was working a lot on postproduction of my images, which basically means a lot of staring in the screen, trying to find correct color balance, contrast, sharpness etc. A lot was said about color profiles and monitor calibration and I hardly understand the matter, so I’ll not go too much into details. I’ll talk about one really interesting and simple trick.
I’ve learned from my college Peter Gedei that the most credible thing conserning color balance of the picture is not your monitor, but RGB/CMYK readings of the picture. For instance:
I was quite pleased with this picture until I haven’t checked CMYK readings and I’ve noticed that faces of the people have about C12 %, M40%, 30%Y and K0%. I know that it’s good that face on the picture contains 0-5% of cyan, about 20-30% of magenta, about 30-40% of yellow and 0% of blacK.
I took away cyan and result was much better, although when I zoomed in I noticed black areas without any information.
I’ve_checked levels and horrified noticed that my picture is ruined. All this gaps in the levels diagram which was completly flat, means bad news, but luckily I’m shooting all images in raw + jpg format, so I reopened the image from raw format. When I’m working on an image that I care a lot and I know I’ll use it in various occasions I opened it in 16byt mode + save it in tiff format. If you have a picture in 16byt and printers and screens can present it only in 8byt mode, that means you have double information needed. With picture like that you can start torturing with different contrasts, color balance, etc… and in 16 byt picture has much better chances to survive your holy inquisition’s torture. You can notice that in this image levels diagram is much smother and hilly as region of Dolenjska.
I’ve spoke with my colleagues whose job is preparing pictures for printing and both of them don’t check levels at all although they do recognize it as useful information.