Photography News | Issue 34 | absolutephoto.com
Profile RichardWest Datacolor’s marketing and sales manager for the UK Richard West talks colour calibration and the need for accurate colour management regardless of whether your images end up online, in print or even on an app
We hear you were the Photo Manager for Apple and also ranNik Software, can you tell us about your photographic journey? I started out working for what is now part of Kodak, so I’ve always been involved in imaging of a sort. Working at Apple was great fun. I was there for ten years so digital cameras went from being rare high-end solutions to something everyone has on their phone. It was great helping people move from film to digital as I think the ubiquity of cameras and the lack of worry of a finite number of shots opened up peoples’ interest in taking photos and also their creativity andwillingness to experiment. That’s part of the reason Nik Software was such a great place to work as we had some cracking retouching products just when the interest in it exploded. When we launched the Snapseed app, it was like a perfect storm. With the quality of phone cameras improving to such a good standard, Snapseedwas ideal for retouching but even I was surprised when I got Snapseed included in Apple’s 12 Days of Christmas promotion – 3.8 million downloads in a day… that was something! Now I’m back with Datacolor and some more groundbreaking products. Can you briefly sum up what Datacolor offers? Datacolor is the maker of the Spyder rangeof colour calibrationequipment. Spyders have been synonymous with colour calibration for decades and they’re innovating all the time. Last year saw the introduction of the fifth iterationofSpyderforcalibratingyour screens. They also make print and camera calibration devices like the SpyderCUBE and SpyderCHECKR. Together their range means that photographers, videographers and graphic designers can see their images’ correct colours on screen, matching to what they were when they were originally captured but also making sure you get what you are expecting when in print or other outputs like theweb or apps. Just how important is colour management? Do our readers really need to engage in the subject, for instance, if they never print but only post pictures on social media? Colour calibration is essential if imaging is your profession. If you are retouching or just viewing photos, first and foremost you want to see what your are looking at on screen come out the same in print. For that you need to have calibrated your screen and profiled your printer.
No one paying for any photo work wants a hotchpotch of images that make the same subjects look like they are sunburnt in one set of shots and washedoutinanotherjustbecausethe lighting has changed. This means you need to have a means of controlling your colours at capture and that’s exactly what the SpyderCHECKR does. This gets your colours correct so it’s invaluable whether your images are in print or on the net. I was surprised to see that colour management is also evidently very important to anyone who is into photography or creating videos as a hobby too. Whether you are paying someone else to print your images or print them yourself, no one wants to waste ink and paper trying to get the result you saw on-screen. Likewise even if it’s just pics of the family you certainly get a lotmore praise if auntie Dot doesn’t look bright red or your prize shot of a kingfisher doesn’t look like its escaped froma cartoon. How easy it is to understand colour management?What is involved? Nowadays that’s the joy. Spyders have evolved drastically from needing to understand what a profile is and where to put it. Calibrating a screen is as simple as plugging your Spyder into a computer, running the software for a couple of minutes and your screen is calibrated and you can trust that what you see is what you get. If printing yourself the process is equally simple. The SpyderPRINT just needs you to scan a couple of print charts from your printer and then programs like Lightroom automatically pick up the calibration and allow you to see what your end print will look like before printing it. My favourite part is capture calibration. The SpyderCUBE and SpyderCHECKR just need to be photographed once in the lighting conditions you are in and then the rest of the shoot can be automatically corrected with the touch of a button. Compared with the complexity of the menus in your average camera, colour management is simplicity itself…well, with a Spyder anyway! Where is the best place to start with colour management? The key part of colour management is to have a calibrated screen. If you can trust what you see then there’s no surprises with the output later – whether that’s in print, online or wherever. Far fewer people need to worry about calibrating printers as most now send their images away to printers rather than print themselves and far more simply share images
Biography Years in the photo industry? 20ish (Oh strewth how did that happen!) Current location? Oxfordshire (near Henley – so handy for the Regatta) Last picture taken The sing-song at Royal Ascot… am I sounding pretentious? When youwere younger, what did youwant to bewhen you grewup? Still young… Dogs or cats? Cats Toast or cereal? Coffee Email or phone call? FaceTime
Is there an ideal monitor? What should readers look for when buying one? Notwishingtogettootechnicalbutthe bigger the colour gamut the display can show, the better (ie. more colours). Most displays are only sRGB capable at best. sRGB has around 75% of the colour capability of Adobe RGB hence looking for a display that can show as muchofAdobeRGBas possible is key. I prefer EIZOs when it comes to displays as I like the build quality but I love the 27in Wacom Cintiq, which shows most of Adobe RGB and is also a touch-sensitive tablet. Is there anything readers should look for in a printer? Most printers give great results but Canon and Epson seem to own the market for price, quality and build. Many readers complain of the final print not looking like the image they’ve seen on-screen. What advice do you have to get colour correct prints? As mentioned, calibrate your screen. Then get the profiles for the printer (and paper and ink) and make sure you examine the soft proof (view a digital mock-up of your end result) in your imaging software. Lightroom makes this as easy as anything that I’ve seen. If you need more guidance on this come to one of Datacolor’s free live webinars (online tutorials) at spyder. datacolor.com/webinars or check out the Nexttek channel on YouTube (Search YouTube for Nexttek) for free how-to videos. If you had to give just one piece of colour management advice to our readers, what would that be? Get a Spyder, take it out of the box, plug it in and actually use it!
via the web. Calibrating your screen so you know what’s being sent to wherever the end goal might be is the most important part. For those who really need to capture exactly the colours of their original subject (eg. sports, wedding and wildlife photographers) having something that calibrates capture is also extremely useful. Likewise we have a lot of customers who are colour-blind using SpyderCHECKRs to calibrate their images at capture as thismeans the coloursare corrected in softwareratherthanyouevenneeding to be able to see themcorrectly. There are so many colour management devices on themarket, what would you recommend for someone looking for their first colour management product? The new range of Spyders (version five) would be my recommendation as I believe that they are unique in two aspects. Firstly you can start with the entry-level device and later upgrade the same device to the more professional and expert versions via software downloads. Secondly the version five was specifically redesigned for use in today’s ‘on the move’ society. The whole unit has been made far more robust and bang and bash resistant with encapsulated optics and a built-in sensor cap ensuring you can carry your Spyder wherever yougo andalways have true colours on-screen. If you think about moving your laptop from a light room into a dark one, we all know the screen will seem brighter and more colourful. That’s why you need to recalibrate whenever yougo somewherenewand your lighting changes. Every other calibrator on the market before the Spyder5 was aimed at being fixed in a lab so Datacolor’s latest version has really made calibrating your screen possible wherever you are.
If you can trust what you see then there’s no surprises with the output later
The images For correct colours throughout your picture-taking and making process, you need calibration devices like Datacolor’s.
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