Colour Management – Part Three


 Editor Colour Settings and Profile Conversion

If you made it through Part 1 and 2 then give yourself a pat on the back.  The whole topic of Colour Management is extremely wide and complex, so all you’re seeing here is the tip of the iceberg – but that doesn’t mean you’re about to sink!!  Since this is aimed at beginners and in particular those using Photoshop Elements and having a simple workflow – Camera > Computer > Printer, you should be able to find a simple formula that works for you.  Hopefully there’s also enough background here to help you understand when things go wrong.


In this part we’re going to look at the Colour Settings and Options within Elements and also at printing.


Let’s just summarise the basics from Part One and Two before moving on to see what Elements does for us in the way of Colour Management.


1                     You’ve really got to calibrate and profile your display.

2                     Your images, screens and printers all need colour profiles.

3                     You need a Colour Managed program to ensure colour consistency….PSE.


If you’ve got all of the above then you’re on your way towards colour consistency but the stories not over yet.   There could well be times when your images don’t include a colour profile.  If they’ve come from your digital camera then these always have colour profiles (A note to RAW users later), however you may have got your images by another means.  Images downloaded from the Internet or even from scanners and other equipment may not have a colour profile in them.   This leads us into the Colour Settings in Elements because that’s what they’re for.


If you go to  Edit > Color Settings, in either the Organise or Editor.  This is the pop up window you’ll see. (PSE4)


Read the Note at the bottom of this Window.

Do not use ‘No Colour Management’.  Your images will not be displayed correctly. 

As for the other settings, if your image already contains a colour profile they make no difference, since Elements uses the profile in the image.  

These settings tell Elements what to do if your image does not contain a colour profile or you are creating an image from scratch.

Adobe is also very mis-leading with the statement ‘Optimise for Printing’.  Many folks assume that switching to this will make their print outs better.   It will not!   Changing from one setting to another will not make any difference to your image if it already contains a colour profile.


But since Adobe have given you a choice, you need to set something and I would recommend starting out with the ‘Optimise Colors for Computer Screens’ option.




Converting Colour Profiles in the Editor

Before we come to printing, I’ll just mention that within the Elements Editor you may have stumbled across the commands to Remove or Apply a Colour Profile.  These are found under the Image > Convert Colour Profile menu.   These commands allow you to change the colour profile of the image or even remove it.  An example of when you could use this is that you may have an image in the AdobeRGB colour space.  If you tried to view this in a non-colour managed program such as Internet Explorer on a PC, then the colours could look very flat.  Converting it to sRGB would produce better results.  Removing a profile would make the file size a little smaller and some commercial print shops prefer this.  By the way if you need to convert to other profiles then you'll have to invest in the full version of Photoshop or you can try a utility from these guys....


Bug or Feature?

It’s probably a good moment to point out a Bug in Elements in respect of Colour Management.   After you open Elements Editor and go to create a New Document, this first new document does not get a Colour Space assigned to it.  Even though the settings under Edit > Colour Settings say it should.  You can check the Colour Space from the Editors Status Bar.  Click on the black arrow and select Document Profile.

To get around this you can use the Convert Colour Profile command.  If your first step when opening the Editor is to open an image that has a Colour Space then this problem doesn’t happen.

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