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About color management in Lightroom

November 14, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

Hey guys. I just finished teaching a PPA Super Monday Workshop that had to deal with color management and some topics came up about how Lightroom displays photos. I have taken this article below from the Adobe Web Site and have highlighted the section which I wanted to point out to folks.


About color management in Lightroom

Lightroom simplifies color management in your photographic workflow. You don’t need to choose color settings or color profiles until you are ready to output your photos. To take advantage of Lightroom color management, you need to calibrate your computer monitor so that you are viewing accurate color. See Calibrate and profile your monitor.

Color spaces, color profiles, and tonal response curves

It’s not necessary for you to understand how Lightroom manages color internally, but the following information may be useful in your workflow.

A color space describes a range or gamut of colors. Various devices in your photographic workflow have different color gamuts in which they can record, store, edit, and output photos. A color profile defines a color space so that Lightroom knows how to manage and convert colors in your photo.

The Library module stores all previews in the AdobeRGB color space. These previews are also used when printing in draft mode. Unless you choose differently in the Soft Proofing panel, the Develop module displays photos in the ProPhotoRGB color space.

A color profile is also defined by a gamma value, or more accurately, its tonal response curve. The tonal response curve defines how tonal values in the raw image are mapped. To provide useful information in the histogram and RGB value display, Lightroom assumes a gamma value of approximately 2.2. More accurately, it uses a tonal response curve similar to the tonal response curve of the sRGB color space.

While Lightroom uses a tonal response curve to provide information for the histogram and RGB values, it manipulates the raw data before it is tone mapped. Working in this linear gamma avoids many of the artifacts that can result in working with a tone-mapped image.

Output color profiles

When you print a photo in Lightroom, you can choose to convert the colors to more closely match the color space of the printer, paper, and ink you are using. For information on working with printer color profiles, see Set print color management.

Lightroom automatically exports images in the Slideshow and Web modules using the sRGB profile so that the color looks good on the majority of computer monitors.


Calibrate and profile your monitor

You can calibrate your monitor and create a profile that specifies its color characteristics using monitor profiling software and hardware.

When you calibrate your monitor, you are adjusting it so that it conforms to a known specification. Once your monitor is calibrated, the profiling utility lets you save a color profile.

  1. If you are calibrating a CRT monitor, make sure it has been turned on for at least a half hour. This gives it sufficient time to warm up and produce more consistent output.
  2. Set the ambient lighting in your room to be consistent with the brightness and color of the room lighting you’ll be working under.
  3. Make sure your monitor is displaying thousands of colors or more. Ideally, make sure it is displaying millions of colors or 24-bit or higher.
  4. Remove colorful background patterns on your monitor desktop, and set your desktop to display neutral grays. Busy patterns or bright colors surrounding a document interfere with accurate color perception.
  5. Calibrate and profile your monitor using third-party software and measuring devices. In general, using a measuring device such as a colorimeter along with software can create more accurate profiles because an instrument can measure the colors displayed on a monitor far more accurately than the human eye.
    Note: Monitor performance changes and declines over time; recalibrate and profile your monitor every month or so. If you find it difficult or impossible to calibrate your monitor to a standard, it may be too old and faded.

Most profiling software automatically assigns the new profile as the default monitor profile. For instructions on how to manually assign the monitor profile, refer to your operating system’s Help.

Install a color profile

Color profiles are often installed when a device is added to your system. The accuracy of these profiles (often called generic profiles or canned profiles) varies from manufacturer to manufacturer. You can also obtain profiles from a custom profile service, download profiles from the web, or create custom profiles using professional profiling equipment.

  • In Windows, right-click a profile and select Install Profile. Alternatively, copy the profiles into the WINDOWS\system32\spool\drivers\color folder.
  • In Mac OS, copy profiles into the /Library/ColorSync/Profiles folder or the /Users/[username]/Library/ColorSync/Profiles folder.
    By default on Mac OS 10.7 (Lion), the user Library folder is hidden. If you don’t see it in the Finder, press Option and click the Go menu. Then, choose Library. See Access hidden user library files | Mac OS 10.7 Lion.
    Important: After installing color profiles, restart Adobe applications.



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