The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Accurate Display of Colors

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Accurate Display of Colors

On another thread the matter of how things show up on others monitors came up and I thought I would shed some light on the subject for those who care about the way things look.

In general all operating systems (MS-Apple-Unix) are made to display a jpeg image to a standard. The OS has a calibration capability that is used by artists and those who care about rendering exact colors on various media like paper, film and a wide range of monitors. As a rule, so long as the image is of natural colors and not the super saturated bright ranges, they display accurately enough to not draw attention. Our brain is able to pick out an un natural flesh tone quickly. We accept a known flesh tone and white and black as a basis for true color. Everything else is assumed to be good if the white is white. Think about a photo of a bride in a white dress that rendered as light green while her face was a normal flesh tone. This is the daily battle for a wedding photographer. Multiple light sources, bright colored carpets and wall colors all effect the light as it bounces around the room. If you want to reproduce accurate colors, you must control the primary light. In the case of the wedding photog, the bride needs to be bathed in soft white light from a powerful flash, softened by a diffuser to eliminate sharp shadows. Our eyes will tell us instantly if the white fabric has an off tint, especially in the shadow areas. The flash needs to overpower the ceiling lights and bounce from the red carpet.

Shooting breads, we have a much wider range of acceptable tones since the only known true colors are whites and black. Look at the right side bar titled "Also On The Fresh Loaf". All the breads look pretty good but the top image of Peter Reinhart looks a little green to me. You see, it's much harder to get a flesh tone right.

Lighting and the settings on a digital camera play a large part in starting down the path of rendering an off color. For example, all cameras today have an auto white balance setting. The sensor measures the light source and adjusts the color saturation of certain colors depending on what it sees. Many cameras also have alternate white balance settings like "incandescent or tungsten and florescent". When you change to the florescent setting, the camera adjusts to eliminate the green hue that florescent bulbs give off and warm the image. Using incandescent settings in daylight would produce a warmer image.

The problem gets difficult when we have multiple light sources. For example, I have a florescent kitchen light fixture with daylight bulbs but I usually use the on camera flash for better rendering of the colors. It's a compromise I sometimes have to adjust for later in Photoshop. Daylight images with the sun out are the easiest because the colors are perfect with the daylight settings.

In the end, all you have control over is your own environment. You must adjust the lighting and camera settings to look right on YOUR monitor. If you think the image looks a little orange, try taking the picture using the incandescent white balance setting. If it looks a little cool(blue or green) try using the florescent setting. Idealy the best image is natural lighting in sun. But I know last night when I finished baking it was 2 AM lol.

I hope those who are interested in this sort of thing find this useful. If anyone has questions about all things photographic, please fire away and I'll try to help.

Eric

ADDED BY EDIT: I noticed that the images in the right side bar chage with every refreshment. So if you want to see the image of PR, frefresh a few times and I think it will rotate back.

 

Comments

korish's picture
korish

This is great info as I am trieng to learn the tricks about photography, thank you for sharing your nowlidge with us.

 

What camera and lense would you recomend for taking still pictures mainly of food?

 

 

http://www.ourwholesomehomes.com

ehanner's picture
ehanner

Korish,

What kind of camera do you now have? If this will be your first digital camera, I recommend the Nikon Cool Pix from Walmart for $94.. Or the Canon A480 at Amazon.

I actually like the Canon better for the features. Tese are both great cameras and have way more ability than you will find in something a few years back for 500 dollars.

If your intended destination for most of your images is a computer screen and not being printed on paper you don't need a huge memory card either. A 1 gigabyte sd memory card should be plenty since you can shoot at the lowest resolution.

Food images need to be close shots usually. A closeup or macro feature is nice so you can get in close for the tight shot.

Hope that helps. If you need help with a specific issue let me know.

Eric

korish's picture
korish

Thanks for the info, I'm definetly still on the learning curve.

Shiao-Ping's picture
Shiao-Ping

That is very interesting information, thank you, but I don't fully understand it.  I will have to read it a few times to slowly digest.

Thank you.

Shiao-Ping

ehanner's picture
ehanner

From the looks of your images, you don't have a worry in the world concerning colors.

Eric

ques2008's picture
ques2008

great tips.  i have always wondered what kind of camera would be good for taking close-up shots of food.  i have a kodak - your basic camera.  definitely not with SLR.  for lighting, gothic girl once posted her remarks about using a lightbox.  do you use one?

ehanner's picture
ehanner

My suggestion for a camera was meant to demonstrate that you don't need to spend a lot of money on a camera to shoot close ups intended for the Internet. I own a Nikon D-80 SLR and several lenses. When I need to photograph a small object in full light I make a small light room using white fabric and photo lights outside, pointed at the box.

For the types of images we create here the best set up is to use daylight if at all possible. Daylight sun provides bright and true colors. If you can't shoot in daylight, I suggest you use the on camera flash. If you want to jump up a level and provide even better light, get a daylight flood light and use it to provide side or rear light with and without flash. Good lighting is the magic of great photography.

Eric