A Tiny Rant On Color

Over the last couple of weeks I have posted a number of thoughts on color and color management. I have mentioned a couple of times that these are not to be interpreted as somehow prescirptive. I am not a some sort of color fascist that demands a particular regimen of color charts and dogmatic adherence to accuracy from start to finish as a goal above all others.

As I have already demonstrated tiny little adjustments not normally associated with changes to color in post can shift color around all over the map. Additionally, you may have deduced from the discussion on device profiles that in many ways reproducing "accurate" color can be an impossibility. We'll get more into that a little down the road. The whole point of this series of post is to give some of you a pragmatic approach to controlling color and hopefully remove some anxiety that a lot of photographers have with digital color reproduction. This is all in the name of de-mystification of the techno-crap and helping you to achieve what you yourself consider pleasing and beautiful from start to finish.

Now for the rant part - it's been a little while. You may recall a previous rant on the state of photography podcasts and how full of crap a lot of them can be. You may think that I go off the rails every time I come across inconsistancies in what is portrayed as photographic "how-to's", instructional material, descriptions of lighting, process, etc. I don't. The relative frequency of how often I see this photo-hog-wash vs when I comment on it is about 0.0001%. From my perspective 95.9872% of everything out there is absolute bullshit.

Some of it has to be intentional - some of it is unexplainable. I am not talking about mistakes, mistakes and inaccuracies happen, they are part of the human condition. I am referring to the almost constant regurgitaiton of misleading and worse than useless drivel that for some reason seems to be entrenched in just about everything uttered, spoken, written, published, or commented on as related to how to get from point A to the finished photograph. Some of it is pretty darn subtle which is even more dangerous and misleading.

For today's rant let us take a look at this recent testimonial from a commercial fashion photographer about his LEAF equipment and why it is so important to producing his images. No need to read the whole thing, you can if you want. Let's just focus on the very first two sentences of the second paragraph. That would be the first thing uttered of the testimonial part - the first paragraph is just the introduciton of credentials to ensure we know who is "talking".

"One of the most critical aspects in my work is ensuring that colors, textures and details remain accurate. They have to look like they do in real-life or I haven’t done my job right." Now quickly scroll through the images that one would have to assume are somehow related to this "critical aspect". I guess this would be what "accurate color" should look like, right? If you have a camera that displays different color characteristics it must somehow be not as accurate as the Leaf huh?

What's even more amazing is that this camera is not only critically color accurate in the universe that we live in, it also appears to be critically accurate in the six other parallel universes where the attached photos where shot. You see each of those universes has completely different ways that color works. This is clear from the completely different way color is rendered in each and every one of the six example images. None of them being from the way color looks in our universe here. Obviouly we have to assume if the Leaf is so dead on accurate in those alternate universes that it must work just as well here with our colors to right? No need to demonstrate that part.

Okay, I am getting silly now. For those of you that don't process my sarcasm well. The bottom line is that nowhere in any of the attached images is the singluar, critical characteristic of color accuracy in any way demonstrated or illustrated. Further more, neither is that almost as critical characteristic of "detail". I am sure that the Leaf has both characteristics demonstrated in spades. The problem here is that the only thing demonstrated is completely un-accurate color and the gross elimination of real world detail brought to you completely by post production effects.

Are the images included attractive? Sure, it's just that they have nothing at all to do with the characteristics of the equipment being extolled. More importantly they have even less to do with all of the other stuff that goes into achieving the goals of "accuate color, texture, and details". The most important thing in obtaining the look of any of these images from a technical perpective is the post production treatment. I have no issue with that, I have a huge issue that is not stated.

I know this happens in every human endeavor. Hey I am a grown up. For some reason this level of poppy-cock seems to be even more pervasive on just about everything photographic. I swear that most of the processes, equipment, and techniques discussed in photo related information have little or nothing to do with the "example" photographs use as illustration.

End Rant


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