All The Colors Of The Rainbow
"It has taken me many years as an active image-maker to fully embrace the idea that the entire photographic process is an act of metamorphosis." --Jerry Uelsmann
If you shoot a lot of color negative film you've already experienced the phenomenon that awaits unwary digital imagers when they set up their first digital darkroom. Computer users call it WYSIWIG (pronounced "wissy-wig") or What You See is What You Get--a phrase originally made popular by comedian Flip Wilson in his Geraldine persona. Photographers see it in badly made prints that have people depicted with red faces and a sky full of magenta clouds, but that's not what you saw! In the world of digital imaging this is called color management, or the art and science of making sure that what you see is what you really get. Color management, just so happens to be the main focus of this month's column, although there's a few other useful goodies featured as well.
Color Management Tools. While I was at the Seybold 2000 trade show, I noticed ColorVision had introduced three new products for managing desktop color. Their Monitor Spyder is a Plexiglas and metal device that attaches to your monitor's screen. When used with ColorVision's software, such as PhotoCal or Optical, it's a simple-to-use measurement device to calibrate your monitor, the real first step in color management. This combination of hardware and software will calibrate any CRT monitor and create ICC (International Color Consortium) profiles for Mac OS and Windows systems. The Monitor Spyder sells for $199 or $399, depending on what software you want. A great companion to the Spyder is Profiler RGB one of the best ways I've seen for color managing a desktop ink jet printer. ColorVision provides target files that you output on your printer. When you digitize that output with your scanner, Profiler RGB compares your print with the original file and creates a unique profile for the paper/ink/printer combination that you're using. When used with some of the papers and inks covered later, you can create a unique set of profiles that your printer will use to make sure that what you see is what you get.
If you are serious about color management, check out these ColorVision products. Doctor Pro is software that helps you edit RGB and CMYK printer files. It permits using Photoshop's editing capabilities to create adjustment scripts for editing output profiles, including removal of color castes, opening shadows, correcting color mismatches, as well as adjusting brightness, saturation, and contrast. Doctor Pro costs $299. Profiler Pro is an instrument-based calibration software for RGB printers. It supports a variety of spectrophotometers and colorimeters, including X-Rites Digital Swatch-book, GretagMacBeth's Spectrolino, Color Savvy's ColorMouse, and SpectroStar's Spectrocam. It sells for $899. More information can be found at: www.colorcal.com.
Monaco Systems recently announced a new color management package for graphics professionals which includes MonacoPROOF software and X-Rite's Digital Swatchbook spectrophotometer at $229. Digital Swatchbook works with Macintosh or Windows computers to use measured spectrophotometer readings for color managing desktop computers. MonacoPROOF is profiling software that builds custom ICC (ColorSync or Windows' ICM) profiles to let you obtain accurate color from scanners, digital cameras, monitors, printers, and even color copiers. The software has a wizard-like interface that guides users through the profiling process and displays on-screen images accurately to produce "soft" proofs. For more information, visit: www.monacosys.com.
ColorBlade from Studion is a Photoshop compatible plug-in. It was made for photographers and designers who don't like color management software for prepress users because they require too many measurements and are time consuming and complex. The goal of ColorBlade is to deliver a WYSIWYG appearance-matched color that's accurate, consistent, and reliable. Studion's SAME (Studion Appearance Matching Environment) is a ColorSync compatible color matching module that's capable of generating color separations and previews that result in rich blacks, neutral colors that don't shift, and colors that remain stable despite any fluctuations in ink density an dot gain. You can download a demo version at: www.studion.com or look for it on the Adobe Photoshop 6.0 CD-ROM.
Plug-In Of The Month. Vivid Details just announced Test Strip 3.0, which should be available by the time you read this. Test Strip is a Photoshop compatible plug-in that functions in the same way a traditional darkroom worker might produce a test strip, but over the past two versions this function has been simplified and streamlined to give it a more digital "feel" for color correction and enhancement. Something really new for Version 3.0 is the Metamorphosis feature, a guided system that corrects images based on the user's response to a series of side by side comparison images generated from the original photograph. To work through the sequence, all you have to do is click on the image you prefer and keep making choices until the software figures out what you really want and produces the finished version. Test Strip also creates an Edit List that allows you to fine tune the image even more, but the portrait I corrected using a beta version at Seybold looked perfect. Another feature photographers are sure to like is "Gels," which allows you to color correct all or part of an image by dragging up to nine independent and even overlapping, resizable translucent windows over specific areas you want to correct. This Plug-in of the Month has also improved and expanded the number of comparison views you can use. For more information, check out: www.vividdetails.com.
Roll'em, Roll'em, Roll'em. Porter Case, Inc. announced a smaller airline carryon size case that's designed to roll under the seat in front of the traveler. Now you don't have to worry about lifting the case up into the overhead compartment or fighting for space when boarding for a flight in the Unfriendly Skies. The new 1504 Elite has softer 4" ball bearing wheels, a padded 43" triple extension handle, combination lock, and Porter's patented rolling tote-to-cart feature. The American-made case weighs less than 11 lbs, yet can carry 200 lbs of other baggage on top. You can use it to transport and protect notebook computers, cameras, LCD projectors, or other items. The Porter Case 1504 Elite will initially be available in four models (Standard Elite, Computer Elite, LCD/AV Elite, and Foam Elite) with more to follow. For more information, visit the company's web site at: www.portercase.com.
Phoenix D1 Digital Camera. Phoenix, who also makes high-value 35mm cameras, has introduced their first digital camera--the Phoenix D1. The point-and-shoot camera has 4MB of built-in memory and can store up to 90 pictures. In addition, the D1 supports CompactFlash cards. Image resolution is 1024x768 with an optical resolution of 992x760. There's a built-in 1.8" LCD screen for image preview as well as an optical viewfinder. The fixed focal length lens has a 35mm equivalency of 34mm, with a maximum aperture of f/3.5. Connections include serial and USB ports. For more information, visit their web site at: www.phoenixcorp.com.
Paper And Ink. Finding a new company is always nice but finding one that is 415-years-old is a real treat. Hah-nemhle has been making paper for fine art applications for a long time and now offers their Digital Fine Art Papers in sizes for desktop ink jet printers. They recently introduced their new William Turner 100 percent rag mould made watercolor paper. As with all of their papers, it's acid free with a neutral pH that can withstand "several centuries" and is produced in accordance with DIN6738/ISO9706 specifications. Print permanence testing for some of the Hahnemhle papers is being conducted by Wilhelm Research. The current posted results are 100 plus years and counting when printed with HP Pigmented UV inks on the DesignJet 25-3500CP series printers. For a sample swatch book, contact Hahnemhle on the web at: www.s-und-s.de.
Jobo announced the availability of their new PhotoBryte Hi-gloss Photo Paper Heavy Weight in 13x19" size. This paper is designed for use in ink jet printers that are capable of handling Super B or B+ sized papers to produce color proofs signage charts and photos. The samples I handled had a weight somewhere between single double traditional darkroom smooth glossy surface. Pricing 20-sheet package 13x19 $55.95. More information can be found at www.jobousa.com.
Following the introduction of Lyson's QuadBlack process, which consists of four to six intensities of black ink, the company launched its Lysonic SG (Small Gamut) range of ink jet inks for professional quality, archival monochrome photographic printing. Conventional color ink jet inks, when used for printing black and white prints can exhibit tonal defects throughout different gray levels in the photograph. With Lysonic SG inks, the company claims that these color imperfections are eliminated, allowing true archival monochrome prints to be output in a wide range of subtle shades on a standard photo quality printers such as the Epson Stylus Color 860 and 1160 machines. Lyson believes that by using simple color adjustments in the image creation software, a full range of tonal effects can be achieved. For example, an image can be printed in many different shades, such as a warm sepia tone, a true neutral black, or a Selenium-like blue-black. Even green or red shaded blacks can be produced. To compliment these new inks, Lyson introduced a new range of professional ink jet media including a photographic quality gloss and satin paper that's available in cut sheets or rolls. They are designed to feel like fine, traditional photographic papers. Lyson's own testing with the inks and media indicate that under average indoor display conditions should have a 100 year life without noticeable fad. Independent testing is being carried out by Wilhelm Imaging Research with results expected by late 2000.
Copyright Protection. Alchemedia announced Clever Content Creator. A web-based service enabling web site owners whose sites are hosted on shared servers and community sites to protect digital images. It enables anyone who has digital content online to use Alchemedia's protection technology. All the features of this platform, including image protection and Clever Links, are available with Clever Content Creator. Pricing begins at $25 a month and will be based on the total number of protected images served. The Clever Content Creator service will be available at: www.clevercontent.com.
PhotoImpact 6 Is Here. Hot on the heels of Adobe's launch of Photoshop 6.0, Ulead Systems released PhotoImpact Web Studio Pr. This is the latest version of Ulead's image editor and incorporates image-editing and web graphics tools with real-time page layout and HTML output support. Version 6 features new tools, including a Web Component Designer that creates a web graphic in three easy steps with customizable presets for buttons, banners, rollovers, icons, and separators. The Rollover Assistant makes creating interactive rollover buttons easy, while the new Animation Studio gives users a gaggle of customizable animated effects. Web capabilities let users create all HTML-based text within PhotoImpact. New browser previews show how pages will truly appear complete with a preview of the HTML code and actual page file size. Ulead will offer its users free web page hosting through a partnership with Homestead.com. In addition to support for eeb graphics and HTML, PhotoImpact 6 allows for a wide range of new features like advanced masking techniques, transparent background creations, a stamp tool that supports the Picture Tube format, an enhanced object eraser, and filter effects. Ulead PhotoImpact 6 costs $99.95 and owners of the PhotoImpact 5 and earlier versions may upgrade for $59.95. A downloadable version will also be available for $89.95 as well as a downloadable upgrade for $49.95. For more information visit Ulead's site at: www.ulead.com.