The Mystery Behind Color Spaces: Adobe RGB vs. sRGB

Intro
Talk about frustration. I first learned the significance of using color spaces the hard way – lots of bad prints. The worst part of it all was that the local photo lab I was using at the time didn’t either recognize and/or understand what the problem was. They blamed the problem on monitor calibration. That wasn’t the problem though.

See, when I took my digital files in on a disc or uploaded them to the store, they looked washed out and dull – nothing at all like the brilliant colors I saw on my monitor. So, I changed photo labs – same problem. Then, one day, I found the answer – I was submitting my prints in Adobe RGB color space rather the sRGB colorspace. After I switched to using sRGB exclusively I never got the washed out look on my prints again. Wonder why?

What is a Color Space?
I’ll admit, I don’t understand all the technical bits of what a color space is. If you’re into that kind of thing and want to know more, I’d say have a look at Wikipedia’s entry on color space. That said, if you think you can put the explanation into a short paragraph of plain english that I can understand, please post it for everyone’s benefit.

I’ll try to explain how I see this color space concept. There’s a lot of colors in the world around us. My camera sees a lot of them, but not all. Depending on the color space that I choose (either in camera or in my editing software) I’ll have more or less of these colors to display. sRGB is the standard set of colors that are used on the internet. You can thank Microsoft and HP for this. There’s only so many different values of Red, Green, and Blues (and combinations thereof) that we get on websites – because sRGB is the standard and that’s what web browsers use to see color. I suppose the simplest way to say it is that a color space is a defined set or range of colors.

About the Adobe RGB Color Space
Simply put, Adobe RGB has a bigger range of colors that sRGB. Adobe RGB was designed and implemented by (no surprise here) Adobe Systems, Inc. It was designed to help you get more color out of your inkjet printers that use a much bigger color space than sRGB. Particularly, Adobe RGB consists of a much wider range of greens and cyans (green-blue). So, we’re now clear on the fact that Adobe RGB gives photographers more color to work with. Sounds like a no brainer. Let’s go on to sRGB though.

What Adobe RGB color space looks like:

About the sRGB Color Space
sRGB, as noted above, gives us a smaller range of colors than Adobe RGB; however, don’t forget that it is the Internet standard (thanks Microsoft and HP). If you’re looking at pictures on the web via your web browser and they look nice and colorful, then you can bet it’s in sRGB color space.

What sRGB color space looks like:

More importantly, perhaps, is the fact that sRGB is what most photo labs use today. You name it, Wal-Mart, Walgreens, Wolf Camera, Ritz, and Target all use the sRGB color space to print your photos. Online labs like Kodak, York, and Snapfish, among others use the sRGB color space. Even labs that market themselves as “pro” labs such as Mpix or Myphotopipe (which I use and love) use the sRGB color space to process your prints.

Which One Should I Use?
It depends. This isn’t too hard to figure out though.

If you print your own photos and you want every ounce of color that you get out of your photo, then learn to use Adobe RGB. I can’t really tell you all that you need to know. Take a look at some of the resources that I’ve linked to in this post. Feel free to educate the rest of us on it if you know how to do it. Note that there are a few photo labs that will accomodate the Adobe RGB color space. Consider Printroom.com, for example. Printroom will accept whatever color space you send them, including Adobe RGB. They don’t say that they’ll print your Adobe RGB color space but they will “use the color information in your image file to convert it to the color space of the printer used to print the particular size-paper combination specified in the order. As a result, the images are printed exactly how you see them on your calibrated monitor in a “color aware” program like Adobe Photoshop.” That’s better service than you get from most online labs. If anyone is aware of other labs that accomodate Adobe RGB, please let me know.

If, like me, you take your photos, make a couple of edits here and there and either upload them onto the web at a place like SmugMug or print them out locally or online at a site like Myphotopipe.com, then you now know that you should be using sRGB from start to finish. Likewise, if you go the path of Adobe RGB, you’ll need to convert those images to sRGB before you decide to upload and share them on the web.

Additional Sources to Learn More
sRGB vs. Adobe RGB from Cambridge in Colour
Dry Creek Photo: Introduction to Color Spaces
Color Space Fundamentals
Wikipedia – Adobe RGB
Wikipedia – sRGB
Adobe.com – Adobe RGB
Nature Photographers Online Magazine: Beyond Adobe RGB
Microsoft: Color Spaces and You

[tags]color space, adobe rgb, srgb, monitor, color, problems, photos, calibration[/tags]

Adobe Creative Suite 3 Buzz

So there’s a lot of new buzz about Photoshop CS3. Take a look at DP Reviews rundown on Photoshop CS 3 and Creative Suite 3. Also, check out the What’s New .PDF on Photoshop CS3 (regular flavor) and Photoshop CS3 Extended (aka orange sorbet). If you really like to read, there’s a ton of .PDF’s here on all the new Creative Suite 3 toys.


PRESS RELEASE:

Largest Software Release in Adobe’s 25-year History Revolutionizes Creative Workflows

SAN JOSE, Calif. — March 27, 2007 — Adobe Systems Incorporated (Nasdaq:ADBE) today announced the Adobe® Creative Suite® 3 product line, a revolutionary offering of tightly integrated, industry-leading design and development tools for virtually every creative workflow. Adobe’s new Creative Suite 3 line-up unites the best of Adobe and Macromedia® product innovation to provide designers and developers with a broad spectrum of creative options for all facets of print, web, mobile, interactive, film, and video production. There are six all-new configurations of Adobe Creative Suite 3. These include, Adobe Creative Suite 3 Design Premium and Design Standard editions; Adobe Creative Suite 3 Web Premium and Web Standard editions; and Adobe Creative Suite 3 Production Premium (see separate releases). Rounding out the product line is Adobe Creative Suite Master Collection which combines 12 of Adobe’s new design and development applications in a single box—the most comprehensive creative environment ever delivered.

The majority of Adobe Creative Suite 3 editions will be available as Universal applications for both PowerPC and Intel-based Macs and support Microsoft® Windows® XP and Windows Vista™. Customers will experience increased levels of performance and speed running Creative Suite 3 natively on Intel-based Macintosh systems and the latest Windows hardware.

“Creative Suite 3 is the biggest launch in Adobe’s 25 year history and a milestone for the creative industry,” said Bruce Chizen, chief executive officer at Adobe. “This release reflects the powerful integration between Adobe and Macromedia and how our products bridge the gap between designers and developers. With new workflows that streamline collaboration and impact the development of rich content, designers and developers now have the creative license to engage audiences across virtually every medium.”

Best-of-Breed Creative Tools for Every Medium

A customer-inspired release, Adobe Creative Suite 3 offers unprecedented choice among editions and stand-alone products, with comprehensive support for the most cutting-edge workflows for any design discipline. Customers can choose from six all-new suites or compelling full version upgrades of 13 stand-alone applications, including Photoshop® CS3, Photoshop CS3 Extended, InDesign® CS3 (see separate releases), Illustrator® CS3, Flash® CS3 Professional, Dreamweaver® CS3, Adobe Premiere® Pro CS3, and After Effects® CS3.

Each edition of Adobe Creative Suite 3 integrates different configurations of Adobe’s creative products to serve a breadth of design needs: Adobe Creative Suite 3 Design Premium delivers an essential toolkit for print, web, interactive and mobile design while Adobe Creative Suite 3 Design Standard focuses on professional print design and production. Adobe Creative Suite 3 Web Premium combines the leading web design and development tools and Adobe Creative Suite 3 Web Standard serves the professional web developer. Adobe Creative Suite 3 Production Premium, meanwhile is a complete post-production solution for video professionals. Lastly, Adobe Creative Suite 3 Master Collection combines 12 new creative applications in one box, enabling customers to design across all media—print, web, interactive, mobile, video and film.

With Adobe Creative Suite 3 family, mobile development and the delivery of video rich content take center stage. Today, Flash technology is emerging as a leader for the mass distribution of video across the Internet, bringing TV shows online, and powering the video capabilities of YouTube and MySpace. Now with the expanded Creative Suite 3 family, Adobe’s powerful video technologies are available, cross-platform, to any creative delivering rich media experiences. In addition, a new common suite component, Adobe Device Central (see separate release) radically boosts the productivity of creative professionals who develop content for mobile handsets. Other shared features across the product line included an updated version of Adobe Bridge CS3, the hub of Adobe Creative Suite, providing instant access to Version Cue® CS3, Acrobat® Connect™, and an expanded Adobe Stock Photos service.

To celebrate the unveiling of Adobe Creative Suite 3, Adobe will host a launch event in New York City that will be webcast live on March 27 at 3:30 p.m. EDT. To attend the webcast, please visit www.adobe.com/go/cs3launch .

Pricing and Availability

Adobe Creative Suite 3 Design Premium and Standard, and Adobe Creative Suite 3 Web Premium and Standard will begin shipping in April 2007. Adobe Creative Suite 3 Production Premium and Adobe Creative Suite 3 Master Collection for Mac OS X on Intel-based systems and for Microsoft Windows XP and Windows Vista platforms will begin shipping worldwide in the third quarter of 2007. All configurations will be available through Adobe Authorized Resellers and the Adobe Store at www.adobe.com/go/gn_store . Estimated street price for the Adobe Creative Suite 3 Design Premium is US$1799, US$1599 for Adobe Creative Suite 3 Web Premium, US$1699 for Adobe Creative Suite 3 Production Premium, and US$2499 for Adobe Creative Suite 3 Master Collection. There are numerous upgrade paths available for Adobe customers. For more detailed information about features, upgrade policies, pricing, and international versions please visit: www.adobe.com/go/creativesuite .

Photo Mosaics

Cades Cove Mosaic

I learned something new today. I stumbled upon a mosaic maker. It was pretty simple to do. I upload my image file and the mosaic generator pulls images from flickr to create a mosaic of my original image. I imagine that there are some real copyright problems with this use of the photos from flickr even though the mosaic generator puts a copyright notice on the Image Mosaic Generator site.

IMAGES USED IN THE MAKING OF IMAGE MOSAICS ARE COLLECTED FROM FLICKR AND COPYRIGHT OF THEIR RESPECTIVE OWNERS.


That said, you may want to go about creating your mosaic from your own photos. There are several ways to do it. There’s online tools that you can use your own flickr photos with (or any other online photos). Also, take a look at the popular software, Mosaic Creator, at aolej.com or ArcSoft Photo Montage. Want to learn more about photo mosaics? Start with the wealth of info on Wikipedia.

UPDATED 3/15/07:  See also, Rich Legg’s colored pencil mosaic post.

RAW vs. JPEG

I’m going to address a debate that there is no clear answer to . . . actually, there is an answer: “It depends.”

Ask a handful of photographers which file format you should shoot with and you’ll get some strong opinions on both sides of the debate. Each side has some good points. The problem with the debate is that some folks with strong opinions believe there is only one way – JPEG or RAW. I tend to think that this depends on each photographer’s particular circumstances. [Read more...]

Two Editions of Photoshop CS3

Photoshop CS3

Photoshop CS3 will be distributed in two editions. One for photographers, graphic designers, etc. and an “Extended” edition for Film, video, and multimedia professionals; Graphic and web designers using 3D and motion; Manufacturing professionals; Medical professionals; Architects and engineers; and Scientific researchers. Visit the product page for the two versions here. Check out Jack Nack’s rundown on the goods.  Read the Press Release below. [Read more...]

Cellblock – A New Tool for Photographers

Cellblock is a cool new tool that makes adding a slideshow to your site about as simple as can be (note the handy slideshow in the right sidebar now – click in the bottom right corner of it to go to full screen or just click here). Now, you can login to your cellblock account and upload a few photos (3MB limit). Better yet, you can email your photos to a particular email address that you set up for your individual cellblocks. What’s more is that you can shoot those images that you can’t wait to show everyone directly from your cell phone / camera phone to your cellblock and instantly publish them to the rest of the world! Pretty darn cool if you ask me! It embeds into your site just like a YouTube or MySpace video.

Want to give a try on Photography Bay? Just send your image (your image) to photographybay@cellblock.com. No need to stick anything in the subject line. Just attach an image and shoot it to me. I’m still learning my way around this thing and am having trouble with portrait-oriented photos at the moment. If you figure out the problem before I do, then pass it along. In the mean time, stick with horizontals.

Control freak? Don’t worry, you can opt not to publish photos until you’ve had a chance to review them, which I do (so no funny stuff). Thanks to the Trademark Blog for turning me on to this!

UPDATE: Regarding my problem with portrait-oriented (vertical) photos – One of the development guys at Cellblock posted a comment stating that this issue is being addressed and will be fixed soon.

We will be exposing a rotate function over the next couple of weeks that will take care of portrait/landscape issues.

Stay up to date on the Cellblog (the Cheat Sheet is worth a read anyway) or I’ll keep you updated when groovy stuff happens.

Photoshop CS3 Beta Release


If you haven’t gotten your beta release of the new free Photoshop CS3 public beta yet, get it now (for Windows or Mac).  Wired has the scoop on the release.  Adobe has been more than generous with the Lightroom public betas.  However, I should warn you that I think Adobe is stringing us along like a crack dealer by giving us a free peek at the goods only to cut us off when we get addicted.  If you shoot RAW and haven’t tried Lightroom yet, you should.  It’s all I use for my RAW workflow and I know I’ll be shelling out the two or three hundred bones for the final release after the beta has expired.