Imagine that you have spent an awfully long amount of time editing a photograph for the cover of a magazine and as soon as you get the copy, the colors did not match what you had on your monitor. Trying to get accurate colors can be quite challenging and the process of getting an efficient color management in lightroom can be a nightmare at first.
From time to time, a client will have some doubts regarding color, saying that the color of a certain product that he sees on his computer is not right or even after printing an image and the color is not the same that you had on your monitor. As photographers, we want to make sure our photographs are printed or delivered to our clients with the correct color that we see on our monitor. Therefore, we have to be certain that the problem is not in our process. That’s why getting accurate colors is such an important factor that can’t be ignored in the photography workflow.
There are some products available on the market, like monitor calibrating devices from brands like X-rite or Datacolor and professional high-end monitors like Eizo and LaCie. Although, it can be quite expensive for someone starting out in photography, color charts can be an affordable way to get the colors right every time, and there are a lot of types and brands to choose from.
In this tutorial, I will show you how to manage colors using only a color chart, while not having to spend a lot of money.
Model: Jessica Waldow / Photo: Luiz Kim
I did a series of photographs for a fashion lookbook (images 3 to 6) using the same light setting and, on purpose, messed with the white balance on my camera, since I photographed in RAW I could tweak the white balance as much as I wanted, nondestructively.
As I mentioned in my last white balance tutorial, studio strobes are set up to 5000K – 5500K, therefore I should have photographed using the setting for the white balance to the flash icon or manually change the setting to 5000K on my camera. The bluish photographs were set up around 2000K and the one with a more yellowish color around 7000K. Even if you set up the white balance on your camera, you will never be a 100% sure if the colors are correct, either because the flash strobe is not giving 5000K – 5500K, or the tint of the photograph appears green or magenta.
Step 1: Photograph the subject with the color chart, position it accordingly to the main light source
After you have set up the lighting for the photo shoot, position the color chart near the main subject and face it toward the main light source.
Click on the White Balance Selector (W), which looks like an eyedropper tool.
Step 2: select the gray area of the color chart
With the White Balance, Selector tool selected, click on the gray box of the color chart. Each color chart may differ, depending on the manufacturer.
With the White Balance Selector, hover over the image. We can see the preview in the navigator window before we even click it.
As you can see, it will automatically correct the white balance of the image, even if your monitor is not calibrated, Using this method guarantees that the white balance is correct.
At this stage, you can edit your image as you would normally do, remembering not to tweak the white balance too much, since the whole purpose is to correct it.
After correcting one image, you can adjust the others as a batch. It doesn’t matter if there are a thousand images, you can match it with the steps below.
Step 3: batch correcting the white balance
Click on the image you have corrected and press shift+click on the last image of the series, that will select the images you want. If you want to select images that are not in order, Ctrl+click for PC, or Cmd+click for mac, selecting the images one by one. Just make sure that the highlighted image is the one with the adjustments.
Step 4: Synchronize the settings
Click on the ”sync” button, which is located in the bottom right corner.
The ”synchronize settings” panel will pop up, you can either check just the white balance to sync all the images with the same white balance, or check whatever you want to sync with the settings.
Hit the synchronize button and Lightroom will synchronize the settings.
As you can see, no matter how many photographs you have taken with the same light source, you will always get the correct white balance.