Color Accurate Photos from Your Camera to Lightroom 3

Any professional photographer knows that having color accurate images from one photo shoot to the next can be a challenge. With various lighting conditions from shoot to shoot, this has not always been easy to obtain. Having consistent color is crucial for all of you images to output correctly. This post will show you how to achieve color accurate images from your camera right into Lightroom 3. Let’s take a look…

In a previous post, we discussed How to create camera profiles using the Color Checker Passport and Photoshop CS5. In this post, we will show you how to create and apply DNG profiles to your Camera using the ColorChecker Passport with Lightroom 3. As with the previous post, all photos were taken using a Canon EOS 60D with a Canon EF-S 18-135mm lens.

For this process, we shot every image in RAW format. RAW file format allows us to apply camera DNG profiles that we create using the Camera Calibration software included with the ColorChecker Passport.

RAW file format: File that contains minimally processed data from a digital camera. Raw files are processed by a raw converter in a wide-gamut colorspace where precise adjustments can be made before conversion to a file format (such as TIFF or JPEG). These adjustments include color calibration and white balance.

In this example, we are using the 2 most popular ColorChecker Passport Targets (there are 3 targets total – all of which are included with every ColorChecker Passport). The targets we are using are:

  • The Classic Target: The industry standard color reference target for creating DNG profiles and for evaluating specific colors.
  • The White Balance Target: For creating custom in-camera white balance for a consistent white point in a set of images, eliminating the need to correct each image later.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The first and second photo of each photo shoot should include the ColorChecker Passport Classic Target and the White Balance Target. Placement of the target can be anywhere inside the photo.

The following Step-by-Step process will show you how to create camera profiles, set the white balance, and apply these changes to your images. It’s important to note that the first part of this process uses Adobe Photoshop (for using Camera Raw). However, the rest of the process is in Lightroom 3. With Lightroom 3, you can print your images using the same ICC profiles as you would through Photoshop and the output should be the same.

ColorChecker Passport with Photoshop and Lightroom 3:

1. In Photoshop, open the first RAW photo you took that contains the ColorChecker Passport. This image will automatically be opened in Adobe Camera Raw. If you do not have Camera Raw installed (or need to update it), it can be downloaded HERE. Click on Save Image.


2. After clicking on Save Image, a new window appears. The default options include dng format, which is what will be used to load the image into the ColorChecker Passport software. After clicking Save, Camera Raw will process your RAW image and create a DNG file.


3. Open the ColorChecker Passport software. Drag and Drop the DNG file you just created.


4. When the image has loaded, the software will automatically identify the patches in the Passport. You will see a green marquee around each patch and green registration marks on the 4 corners of the target (as seen below).


5. After the Passport has been recognized, click on Create Profile. This is saved in your Adobe Camera Profiles folder on the hard drive. By Default, the name of the camera used is the profile name.


6. When the profile is complete, close and relaunch Photoshop. This will refresh the profile library and will include your new camera profile in the profile list.


7. Open Lightroom, and click on Import. Locate the images you are creating the profile for and click Import.

8. Once the images are imported into Lightroom, click on Develop. Select the White Balance Target image from the images that you have imported. Then, scroll down to Camera Calibration (on the right portion of the window). Under Profile, select the Camera profile you created in the ColorChecker Passport Software (In Step 5). The default profile name is the name of the camera you used. Click on Sync.


9. After you have selected the Camera Profile, click on the WB eyedropper tool (White Balance).


10. Click on the White patch in the White Balance Target. After you click on the patch, the White Balance will be set for this image.



11. Select all images that you have imported and click Sync. When the Synchronize Settings window appears, make sure that White Balance and Calibration are checked. No other options should be checked.


12. After the Synchronization is complete, both the White Balance and Camera profile will be applied to all images.

BEFORE:
AFTER:

With the above process, you will be able to create DNG profiles for your camera for each photo shoot. The patches in the ColorChecker Passport will not change, regardless of lighting conditions on each shoot. If you need to output all of your photos with color accuracy and consistency, the ColorChecker Passport is an excellent (and affordable) solution. And combined with the ColorMunki, your entire workflow from Camera to software to print will consistently produce accurate color results.

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