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.
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.