Monday, September 28, 2009

Color Me Bad

I have been battling an issue where Lr and Photoshop don't consistently show the same colors. Sometimes Lr is more saturated and sometimes they do show the same colors. It has been an issue that I've researched extensively, beseeching all the powers of the Internet but to no avail.

I have two posts here from several weeks ago that document the start of my color problems:

Colors Problems, Blurs, Time Spent Retouching, and Foreheads

Sypder3 Pro, Unibody Macbook, Dell 2405FPW

Here's a brief run down of the color issues in story form:

Once upon a time, I didn't give a rats ass about color profiling and color accuracy. I figured, 99.9% of Internet users would not have a color calibrated display so why bother trying to make my pictures true to form. Well, doubt crept into my mind and I started doubting the colors that I was seeing and if there's anyone you must always be true to, it's yourself (so trite, but it's a story so bear with me).

So I stopped editing my images and in the meantime purchased a Spyder3 Pro from Adorama which took a week to arrive. Since I couldn't vouch for the color accuracy of my images, I didn't want to release any in the meantime. So I waited and when it finally arrived, I realized my MacBook Unibody had a warm tint.

The arrival of my Spyder3 Pro also ushered in my use of dual displays with the purchase of a Mini DisplayPort-to-DVI adapter. My secondary display was now my old Dell 2405FPW that I've had since 2005. Incidentally Snow Leopard was released and I upgraded to OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard) and never looked back. In retrospect, I should have done one piece at a time, but this is my life and I'll screw up if I want to, thanks.

After verifying that my calibrations were color accurate (I drove to Samy's Camera in Hollywood to look at their Eizo CG241W), I finally put behind me that my displays' colors were accurate. Furthermore, I began printing my work at a local Costco after downloading their color profile from
Dry Creek Photo the result of the prints were further assured me that my displays' colors were finally accurate.

However, I found a single discrepancy... Lightroom and Photoshop did not match. After substantial research, I uncovered that Lightroom is simply not programmed to handle separate color profiles across multiple displays. It seems that Lightroom grabs the color profile of the display it starts in and then uses that color profile regardless of which display the user drags the Lightroom window into. Photoshop on the other hand shifts its colors according to which display the user drags the Photoshop window into and seemingly uses the correct color profile.

Only, I can't repeat this issue consistently. It would appear that there are subtle shifts in Lightroom after dragging the window from one display to another. To further complicate matters, another variable that seems to influence which color profile Lightroom grabs when starting is whether or not the secondary display is the default display (System Preferences>Displays>Arrangements>drag the menu bar to the secondary display). Needless to say, this has all been quite frustrating and I have yet to figure out how to repeat this issue consistently for others. To make matters worse, I have heard different results from different users, therefore making it nearly impossible to replicate across the board. Some people are blaming Lightroom, some people blame Photoshop, fortunately both those programs belong to Adobe, but then there are those that blame Snow Leopard for "breaking" the color consistency across displays.

This will be an "ongoing investigation" and if you get bored, you can see my documentation of this issue
here at the Adobe forums. To be honest, some of my earlier reports are weak because the issue is impossible to replicate. My later posts are better but I still feel like there should be a rhyme and reason to this madness.

The only consolation of this entire debacle is that I can safely say that my Costco prints look like my Photoshop window regardless of which display the window is dragged into and which display is the default display (not entirely true but usually true). So at least I can trust PS to "tell me the truth". Stay tuned for more updates...

1 comment:

  1. Hello, after viewing your photos on Flickr I became of fan of your work and I am an aspiring fashion photographer so my question for you is regarding printing for my portfolio. There is a lot of debate over actual portfolios and web portfolios what is your take on that? The second question is Costco prints vs Professional photo labs?

    Thanks and I look forward to seeing more of your work.