There are two methods used to show color in a photo. The first method is trying to show the real color of the object as precisely as possible. The second way is to show exaggerated colors so that they are more attractive, but not as accurate as in reality.
The way your camera records colors is determined by the color and white balance settings selected during shooting. This is especially important when you shoot JPEG files. If you shoot RAW format, you are able to change these settings during processing the file.
Each manufacturer has its own name for the settings used for color management. Canon has Picture Styles, Nikon – Picture Controls, Sony Creative Style, Pentax – Custom Image, Olympus – Picture mode and Fujifilm – Film Simulation.
Let’s look at Canon’s Picture Styles function as an example. It’s Neutral and Faithful Picture Styles are designed to produce fairly accurate colors, but others are not. The Portrait style is designed to create a nice skin tone, Landscape for rich green and blue colors, and Standard for a rich red color. You will not be able to achieve accurate colors in such modes as portrait, landscape or standard, but you will get quite pleasant colors.
But what if you just want the exact color?
There are several reasons why accurate color could be important to you.
· When photographing something, where the color accuracy is necessary. For example commercial product shoots, packshots, etc…
· When photographing flowers, where it is very difficult to show accurate colors.
· To be sure that photos taken from two different cameras have similar colors.
· Or it is a very good practice to have photo with exact colors, as a starting one, so that with further processing to know which direction to go.
What is X-Rite ColorChecker Passport ??
The truth is that if you want to achieve accurate color, due to the reasons listed above, you cannot rely on the settings of your camera — you need some third-party support. This is where X-Rite ColorChecker Passport comes to the rescue. This relatively inexpensive tool, easy to use, is very easy to integrate into Lightroom.
X-Rite ColorChecker Passport is made of gray plastic and if you open it you will see inside a palette with exact colors.
ColorChecker Passport is easy to use. First, take a photo of its palette in your photography setup (using the RAW format). Then, you need to convert this photo to DNG (use the export option in Lightroom) and drag the DNG file into the ColorChecker Passport program.
The program creates a profile calibrated for your camera and is stored along with other profiles found in the Lightroom Camera Calibration panel. In order to see the created profile, you will need to restart Lightroom, and then you can apply this profile to any photo taken with the same setup. The profile is also available in Photoshop ACR, if you suddenly need it.
White Balance with ColorChecker Passport
The final part of getting closer to perfect color is white balance. You really shouldn’t rely on the automatic white balance settings of your camera. In photos, where red and blue colors predominate to a greater degree, the camera may be mistaken.
The ColorChecker Passport is quite small, and you can carry it around with you and use it at the shooting location to record accurate colors and adjust white balance. After all, the passport also has another panel that can be used to adjust the white balance.
In Lightroom, adjust the white balance by pipetting an 18% gray sample. This method provides accurate color and white balance accuracy.