Capturing Color – What You See vs. What Your Camera Sees

I just returned from a trip to the Caribbean island of Grand Cayman and the colors of the ocean were so beautiful there. They were every shade of blue to green that you could think of, and I just knew I would never be able to do those colors justice in my camera images. Why? I know that my eyes capture more colors than any camera ever will…

Even when I process images on my home computer, I know what I am seeing is not what you will be seeing:

  • My home monitor was selected to have great color-reproducing capability.
  • My home monitor is calibrated.
  • I capture in RAW format and process in the ProPhotoRGB color space.
  • I output my images in the sRGB color space so it will appear better on the internet and your computer monitor.
  • I print my images in the ProPhoto or AdobeRGB color spaces, but I am limited by the limitations of the paper and printer that I use, so I use an ICC profile of the printer/paper I use.

Colorspace

You can see from the graph here that the larger outer profile of human vision exceeds any of the color spaces, particularly in the greens and blues. Greens and blues occur most in nature, so this is where it becomes extremely frustrating for nature and landscape photographers. They just can’t capture everything they see!

This is where post-processing comes in and allows the photographer to be able to bring back some of that color he saw when he took the photo.

Through various techniques and software, I frequently must adjust photos for color saturation and depth in order to be able to show what I actually saw when I captured the photo with my camera. This is not “cheating” as some would have you believe. It is, if anything, being more honest with the viewer by showing them a more faithful reproduction of what actually was seen.

You can see the techniques and software that I use to do this by reading my other posts on this blog/site, or in my bio page where I keep a current list of software and equipment. And, you can see my completed work on my photography gallery site where you will see the completed photographs.

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