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A Simple Understanding of Digital Imaging Tel: 201 263-9177  9 Am to 7 PM 201 753-4600 10 AM to 7 PM

Why do we need to know this nerdy stuff?

No, we don't want you to become a nerd, but if you can understand what digital science is basically about, you will understand what equipment and software you need in order to produce a better job. Being a Gemini artist-techi, half of me never wants to get into nerdy stuff, while the other half says, to know your craft you have got no choice ... learn it!

There are those who will tell you that you do not need to know anything, just push the button. So-called, plug and play. We call this type of advertising, plug and pray. Then, shortly after, you find out its not quite true, what you see is NOT what you get. This new world of Digital Technology is full of Techi B.S. and to weed through it as I and many of my friends have found out, is a very expensive task. The knowledge I have to share comes from years of experience and scientific study. All to often I find that the so-called scientists that create the software don't seriously use it. Some of them do not even know what their competition has to offer. So they look towards qualified users and resellers, such as my company, to put their software to use and present feed back.

I print, study and beta test numerous color management software, scanners, digital lighting, inks and materials. I have spent a fortune on software and instruments searching for the holy grail of digital color control. Sometimes I feel like the nerdiest nerd there is, and other times when I gaze upon my images looking great, I feel like Michelangelo and Leonardo de Vinci.

My goal is to make you feel like them too, and to prevent you from spending a needless fortune. You can see our concepts in action anytime. Just come and visit us.

Transferring analog into digital, whether for photography, art, display, pre-press, or for the textile industry, takes a certain degree of understanding.

I suggest you should print out these pages and take your time reading this information.

Below are a number of topics and definitions, so that when a techi talks in terms of Delta E, you will be able to translate it into a simple concept.

The World of RGB:

There are several color spaces that you have to deal with when imaging digitally. Of them, the most important you must first understand is RGB (Red, Green and Blue), because your monitor that you see your images on is an RGB device.

Monitors have a color space and a color temperature. While you can set a basic color temperature on a monitor, it does not mean that the white point and gray scale of that temperature are accurate. You may have the correct white point, but an incorrect gray scale. Either of these points being incorrect, will affect your accuracy of color balancing and color correcting an image.

Questions most frequently asked of me and my answers

Q: Which color temperature should I set my monitor, 5000K, 6500K, or 9000K?

A: For the longest time, the industry standard has been 5000K (Kelvin). Some feel 6500 K has more punch, but since most light boxes for viewing transparencies are 5000K, and the best digital lights are 5000K, I suggest using 5000K.

Q: What are the correct brightness and contrast settings?

A: All monitors are NOT created equal and differ in brightness, contrast, gray scale, and color.

Q: Which one monitor does it right?

A: NONE OF THEM. They ALL need to be calibrated to the industries' standard. Some monitors are better in sharpness, color and evenness. Some monitors are made better to last longer, but ALL OF THEM NEED TO BE CALIBRATED.

To calibrate a monitor one must buy a software and a colorimeter to attach to the monitor and read the monitor's light. The software will adjust your video card to produce a perfect gray balance and color values. It will also set the contrast and brightness level.

Now that your monitor is portraying a proper RGB view, it is time to look at the RGB values in applications such as Photoshop.

Scientists have created numerous RGB values called profiles. These profiles are used to view images in programs such as Photoshop. Which one should you use? Which one gives the best image? The most important question is, which one relates best to your output printer and Web?

The answer for the Web is easy, SRGB will be your best choice, but for printing purposes it is not so simple. Your Monitor has a very wide color space. It can portray millions of colors, however, your printer cannot. When you look at your image on your monitor you see a luscious, vibrant, rich, full range image, but when you print it, it often falls short. So what profile should you use to view your image? Well, I do not have the perfect answer; however, there are two color spaces that I would recommend. For subtle smooth gradations of delicate tones, I would suggest ColorMatch RGB and for vibrant richer greens and yellows, I would suggest Adobe 1998. These color spaces are chosen in Photoshop 6, Edit, color RGB.

When you convert your image to print, this RGB setting, which becomes a part of the image, is used in the conversion to CMYK or Hexachrome. It greatly affects the converted color space.

The Delta E Story:

Once you can see your image properly, the next thing is to understand how differences in color are defined. When comparing two colors that are supposed to be close, or the same, the difference that is measured between them is expressed in the term Delta E. If the differential between them is LESS than 2, you will hardly see any difference. This is an equation far more accurate than simply looking through color filters to determine the difference. Utilizing a device called a Spectrophotometer, the colors can be measured precisely and the values can be turned into data that you use for corrections. This data is valuable when reproducing a color from a chosen fabric or given swatch and when comparing printed colors to the Pantone pallet.

I remember my friend who told me while he was sitting in a seminar about color, the speaker kept talking about Delta E and not really explaining what he was saying. After a while my friend picked himself up and walked out. You might never need to get into the techi stuff of Delta differentials, but when the color you chose does not come out right, the only true way to know what is not right is to measure it with a spectrophotometer. I will shortly explain what it is, but first, if you are familiar with densitometers, you should know that there are spectrophotometers that are less expensive than densitometers and that a spectrophotometer can be used as precisely as a densitometer.


Trying to understand what color digital experts describe can be quite mysterious and confusing, and because of that, we have gathered excerpts from various sources that best explain what I believe will help you understand this new language and science.