98 Control Panel's Display Properties dialog under
the tab Settings, provides identification of what the
OS has identified as your monitor and graphics adapter.
I'm a sensitive person,
at least visually, and it used to bother me to no end to go into someone's
home with the TV on and see the faces in the screen green. That situation
has been improved with auto-adjust features, but even today if you go
to the TV store and all the sets are tuned to one channel each picture
looks a little different. A similar situation affects computer and digital
photo input and output, as well as what you see on the screen. These
computer photo devices, scanners, monitors, and printers all handle
the data in a digital photo file differently. Even though you have the
smarts to use your image-editing application skillfully and adjust each
digital photo precisely, getting print output that matches the screen
image may not be WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get). And, if you
send that digital file to your sister in Oshkosh, she'll see something
different on-screen and her prints will look different than yours.
Advanced button in the Display/Settings dialog opens this
Properties dialog with a Color Management tab. It supports
the identification of all .ICM files associated with the
monitor identified as the Default by Windows, and provides
the option of adding other .ICM files as well as setting
one in particular as Default.
Management (CMS) to the rescue. Although operating system level color
management was introduced with Windows 95 (ICM 1.0), it has taken till
now and Windows 98 (ICM 2.0), with a new "engine," for software
and hardware vendors to begin providing support. What that means is a
beginning toward solutions for different devices like scanners, monitors,
and printers, so they can talk to each other through a translator, and
in effect speak the same language. This is done through a process referred
to as characterization that results in a profile, a file of information
in a standard international language (ICC) format which defines how a
device handles color information. In Windows 98 there is a Sub-folder
under the System folder called Color, which is used to house these .ICM
profile files. Many of these profile .ICM files supplied by different
vendors like Kodak or Hewlett-Packard are included by Microsoft in the
Windows application. Others are filed when you install the software for
a printer or scanner.
If you're interested you can open Explorer and go to Windows/System/Color.
If you click on an .ICM file and then click on Properties from the File
menu a dialog will open which includes an identification of the device
that file profiles. Until very recently, and according to Microsoft's
assumption of how color management should function, whether or not the
correct .ICM is activated is an entirely automatic process and one that's
transparent to a user. Theoretically if every manufacturer of a device
which inputs or outputs color, and every monitor maker, supplies precise,
carefully characterized profiles, and then every application vendor provides
support in their software when images are input, displayed, and output,
every user should get WYSIWYG digital color, automatically. But that theory
is like a politician's promises, the devil is in the details.
Help menu bar selection includes a Color Management item
that opens an Adobe Color Management Wizard. This easy to
use series of procedure dialogs supports setting Photoshop
up to manage color according to your particular needs.
As I write this, some hardware
and software vendors are providing user support for implementing the color
management potential of MS Windows ICM 2.0. More extensive solutions are
in the wings, like a new version of Apple's Colorsync written for
Windows. So here is what I've experienced using color management
with Windows 98, with a condensed commentary about how it works. There
is additional in-depth documentation available on several web sites, including:
Microsoft Windows 98 ICM 2.0. As I indicated earlier, apparently it was
Microsoft's intention that color management should be an automatic
function that's entirely transparent to the awareness of the user.
Besides the very hidden folder with .ICM files, most users would not find
unless they're looking for it, there is only one access to a color
management function in Windows 98. That access is a very critical one,
but unfortunately it is also pretty well hidden, and apparently assumed
it will be taken care of automatically. It involves the identification
of your monitor and the association of an .ICM profile with the monitor
that is connected to your system.
is the first screen opened by the "Adobe Gamma"
button in the first dialog of the CM Wizard. It will take
you through a step by step calibration of your monitor and
then it will write a new .ICM profile file to provide an
accurate description of your monitor's display properties.
You'll find this information
about your monitor by first going to Control Panel, and then double clicking
on the Display icon. This opens the Display/Settings Properties dialog.
Under the picture of a display there should be a line of text which identifies
the brand and model of your monitor, as well as the brand and model of
the graphics display adapter installed in your system. If the information
is correct, then you have no problem at this stage. If the information
is incorrect or incomplete go to the Advanced button at the lower right
corner and click on it. You can then click on the Monitor tab and in its
upper right corner click on the Change button. If Microsoft Windows has
the information on file about your monitor you will be able to select
it from lists provided. Otherwise obtain a disk with this information
from the manufacturer of your monitor, hopefully including an .ICM file
for the monitor. Next, once this is accomplished, click on the Color Management
tab, and in the window any .ICM profile associated with the monitor will
be displayed. If none are, and you know there is one in Windows/System/Color,
click on the lower left Add button to pop-up a selection dialog. Select
the correct profile, and then set it as Default.
When your monitor is correctly identified in Windows 98, and the correct
.ICM profile file is set as the Default, then you are assured your visual
reference. Your on-screen view of a photo image is being properly referenced
by any application which supports ICM 2.0 color management.
Photoshop 5.0 is installed an icon access to Adobe Gamma
is created in Windows Control Panel. At any time it may
be opened to identify the .ICM profile Photoshop uses, as
well as gamma and color temperature settings. This dialog
provides access at any time to run the Adobe Gamma Wizard
to recalibrate your monitor and write a new profile.
Color Management In
Adobe Photoshop 5.0.2. Shortly after Adobe released the 5.0 major
revision of Photoshop, they released a 5.0.2 upgrade primarily adding
to the implementation of color management. If you have Adobe Photoshop
5.0 and have not upgraded, the necessary files to do so may be downloaded
from Adobe's web site. What this adds first of all is a Wizard that
may be accessed by going to the main menu bar and clicking on help, and
under it click on the Color Management menu item. This opens the Adobe
Color Management Wizard. In the opening screen there is a button "Open
Adobe Gamma," which if you have not already run, you should by clicking
on the button. Then in the next dialog window, select Step By Step Wizard,
and follow the procedure doing exactly as instructed. The purpose of this
procedure is to adjust and thereby calibrate your monitor to a visually
determined level of performance. The software then writes a new .ICM profile
based on this calibration. Then, each time you boot up, Adobe Gamma sets
your monitor's performance in accordance with this profile.
Now, back to the Adobe Color Management Wizard, which asks questions,
the answers to which establish the specific kind of use you are expecting
to apply to your image work in Photoshop. One in particular involves the
choice of a ColorSpace. Essentially this is the gamut, or the limit, of
the total range of possible visible colors. For instance, your monitor
will only display a limited range or gamut of all of the colors identified
within the visual spectrum. The ColorSpace sRGB is a gamut which describes
the range of colors a typical computer monitor is capable of displaying.
The ColorSpace default for Photoshop is sRGB, but this should not be selected
unless your output is intended only for display, over the Internet for
instance, by another monitor. A wider and more effective ColorSpace you
should select for the purpose of photographic input and output is Adobe
RGB (1998). This ColorSpace comes close to replicating all of the colors
which can be scanned from a typical Ektachrome transparency, while the
default sRGB's smaller gamut loses many of the subtleties of color
in a photograph. When you have made this selection and completed each
step the Color Management Wizard requires, Photoshop is set up for color
management in accordance with specifications your specific workflow demands.
latest version of LaserSoft's SilverFast scanner software
includes support for Windows 98 ICM 2.0. This includes the
ability to select how the scanner driver engages color management
as well as what specific device profiles are used.
An ICM Enabled Device:
The Nikon Super CoolScan 2000 With SilverFast 4.1.4. There are
many input and output devices you can purchase and use with a Windows
98 personal computer, like the HP DeskJet 895Cse I reported on recently,
which are ICM 2.0 enabled, and the software places an .ICM profile in
the Windows/ System/Color folder. In the case of this HP printer, there
was a switch to check in the printer's driver dialog to enable ICM
color management. With many devices there is not even that indication
color management is supported. The device maker has apparently assumed
the Microsoft intent that color management remain transparent to the user.
Exceptions are surfacing, and for more reasons than just letting the user
know there is a profile associated with the device that is being used,
as we will see in greater detail further on.
But for now, one device I recently reported on in Shutterbug, the Nikon
Super CoolScan 2000 with LaserSoft SilverFast software, offers a more
ideal and complete dialog so users can select a specific set of profiles
to manage color in a specific, controlled manner. In the SilverFast Options
dialog there is a CMS tab which opens a dialog that supports specifying
exactly how the scanner software implements Color Management, what profiles
should be used for the scanner, the monitor (Internal), and for output.
There is also a provision to embed the profile as attached data to the
output file information. This embed capability supports the provision
of a profile reference allowing the opening of the file with another computer
so it has a reference (profile) as to how the image should appear.
From the continuation of my testing with the Nikon LS-2000 with the SilverFast
driver, both in a version without ICM 2.0 enabled, and with it in Version
4.1.4, the advantage in obtaining accurately adjusted scans when CMS is
enabled was extremely apparent. This carried on throughout in making any
post-scan adjustments, which were now limited to local area corrections,
and then to the production of truly WYSIWYG prints of these scanned images.
Ultimate Refinement In Color Management. For some years now color management
has been available and used in high-end professional design studios, pre-press
service bureaus, and reproduction service companies. As many as a couple
of dozen companies, including Kodak and Agfa, have been providing proprietary
hardware and software color management solutions, most of which are far
more expensive than an individual user would or could afford. These solutions
have recognized that individual devices like scanner and monitors of the
same make and model vary from one to another, and also vary in time with
age and use. Therefore, means have been provided to profile individual
devices, usually involving again expensive sensitometric measuring equipment.
As the potential for quality digital photo reproduction has become increasingly
affordable and has moved into the consumer market, custom individual profiling
of monitors, scanners, and printers has become a problem some of these
color management companies have begun to address.
Again leading the way, Epson has partnered with Monaco Systems to jointly
offer a software solution designed to be bundled with Epson scanners,
including the Expression 836XL, and the just announced Expression 800
model. Monaco Profiler Lite is an ingeniously designed Wizard utility
that leads you easily through the rather complex process of making custom
profiles for your monitor, scanner, and printer. In addition to the application,
an Acrobat .PDF file containing a comprehensive, well-written, 48 page
guide thoroughly documents how the software works and how to use the resulting
profiles. The software supports separate profiling of your monitor, which
should be done first, if you have not already calibrated with an .ICM
profile on file using Adobe Gamma, or some other facility like Sonnetech's
Colorific which is supplied with the matrox Millennium graphics card.
Next there is an option to profile a scanner using an IT-8 color reference
supplied by Monaco with the software. This is a reflective scanning target,
but Monaco indicates there is the availability from them of a transparency
target as well to use if your scanner also has a transparency scanning
accessory. The last profiling option is for your scanner and printer.
This is done together in a single series of steps using the scanner to
measure the printer's output from a "test" print made
from a special image file included within the Monaco software.
As I hinted earlier, the programming by Monaco of Profiler Lite is unusually
effective. Going through the process demands following the instructions
on-screen precisely, but they are clear and unambiguous, so I obtained
a set of profiles for my Epson scanner and Epson Photo Stylus 700 printer
filed in Windows/System/Color with no difficulty and quite painlessly.
The proof of how it works is of course in the pudding, in this case a
print of a scan. So I made a scan and print of a photographic image without
color management and invoking the new Monaco custom profiles, and repeated
the process using the profiles. The difference in the two prints is quite
dramatic in terms of the degree to which the final color managed print
matches the original's values and the appearance of the image on-screen,
compared to a much less accurate reproduction of values in the control
If there is any proviso, any reservation I have and should pass on about
the advantages of implementing color management in Windows 98, it involves
the fact the system is still largely transparent providing user control
only to the monitor setting and profile selection directly through Windows,
while fully aware and controllable color management is supported only
by a very few device drivers like LaserSoft SilverFast, and imaging software
from Adobe including the current versions of applications like Photoshop,
Illustrator, and PageMaker. This does not mean you cannot enjoy any of
the advantages of color management using other applications. By calibrating
your monitor and producing a custom .ICM profile that's set as the
Windows Default, you can assure a closer match of what you see on-screen
in scanning results or in print output. And, if you do choose to use Adobe
Photoshop 5.0.2 for your digital photography processing, it has the facilities
to implement custom profile control throughout the process.
Even by the time you read this the intervening period may have seen the
release of Apple Colorsync for Windows 98, which will provide full user
control of the color management environment at the operating system level.
In addition, more and more device manufacturers will more likely than
not provide effective profiles for their devices, as well as software
support to facilitate using custom profiles with manual selection. I believe
this will help immensely in assuring computer users to realize a level
of color quality consistently that has previously been unavailable to
consumers by analog or digital means.