Color Me Accurate
by Charlie Miller
I was working with a client recently who had been struggling with getting consistent color from his photos in Aperture. Like many other digital photography enthusiasts I’ve talk to over the years, he was mystified by color management, and had grown accustomed to trying to predict what his photos would look like when output, and then making adjustments to attempt to compensate. This is what I like to refer to as “shotgun color management”. It's inaccurate, messy, and can be an incredibly inefficient use of time.
Getting predictable, accurate color in Aperture doesn’t have to be something to stress about. Devices such as the i1Display 2 and the Pantone huey are both known as colorimeters. They cost a few hundred dollars and include software that allows you profile to your display so that your computer is capable of displaying color accurately. Place either of these devices against your screen, run the bundled software, and it will create a custom color profile for your display that you can manage in the Color tab of the Displays System Preference. This is a good place to start with minimum investment.
For anyone outputting photos to a high-quality inkjet printer, you’ll want to look at a spectrophotometer such as the X-Rite i1Photo. This is a more powerful (and more expensive) color metering device that is capable of reading accurate color from paper and other mediums in addition to an LCD or CRT display. With a spectrophotometer, photographers can create custom color profiles for each of their inkjet papers. Combine these custom output profiles with a custom display profile and you have accurate color from top to bottom. You can use Aperture’s built-in softproofing feature — available as the “Onscreen Proofing” option under the View menu — to preview what your photos will look like when output to a printer using a custom output profile.
If you are really interested in getting the most out of your monitor, I'd strongly suggest looking at Color Eyes Display Pro. It comes as a software only package, or with a hardware device (X-Rite DTP-94) and works with most hardware calibration devices and all monitors, INCLUDING Apple displays (due to only having brightness controls, these displays are notoriously difficult if not impossible to calibrate - only Color Eyes can do it correctly).
I agree with colour management, but apple have failed to enable Aperture users to get the right colour when printing from Aperture. To get the right colour, I have to print from Photoshop.
The web is full of reports of this issue - my images print very much darker than they are.
BTW - I train in colour management so know my stuff.