Complete Color Integrity

Why We Give Few Illustrative Examples of Color Integrity

I have been asked why I do not provide examples of images with and without color integrity to make it easier to see exactly what it is that I mean. In the Color Integrity and Color Balance section of this document there are two examples showing the general effect, but I do not hold them to be good examples. Creating demonstrations of this effect is more difficult to do than it sounds. If I start with an exhibit of images showing good color integrity then I need to intentionally misadjust those same images to get the examples with color integrity problems. This is what I have done in the two examples mentioned above. The resulting images would not likely satisfy any critical photographer. The professional images that you see every day that lack color integrity are created by good photographers trying their best to adjust their images out of the hole that Photoshop (or some other image editing program) has dug for them. Even when the color has the disturbing effects brought about by lack of color integrity the result is often still quite convincing. I cannot do that. I frankly am no longer capable of working naively on images that lack color integrity – because I understand color integrity, when I try to make the images convincing I just end up restoring color integrity.

Alternatively I might take images from a source like the National Geographic and attempt to recover them by reverse engineering the loss of color integrity. Even if that was not a difficult task in itself there would be copyright problems. I believe most readers who have gotten this far already have started to recognize the color integrity problem, at least in the back of their minds. As I have said from the start, the best way to see the problem is to take a magazine with a good, long-standing reputation for quality color images and compare some current issues with issues of the same magazine that are 20 or more years old, thus pre-Photoshop and probably pre-digital. The difference will become obvious – while the images in the new issues may have a more spectacular appearance, the color in the older issues will appear more natural, like you were really there. I suggest National Geographic because long runs are readily available in most libraries, but any quality picture magazine – including photography magazines – with a long enough run is also a good candidate.

Perspectives and Comments
Genesis of the Idea
– what led to the discovery of these simple facts.
Why We Give Few Illustrative Examples of Color Integrity
Color Integrity from the Viewpoint of Artistic Painting
Fog Example
Color Integrity from the Viewpoint of Basic Physics and Mathematics
Trying to Deal With Color Integrity in Photoshop
Color Integrity and Color Balance
– A Few Examples
Comments on Calibrating Digital Images
"Acceptable Accuracy" in Calibration
Calibration and Color Profiling
The Pitfalls of Using Profiling as Camera Calibration

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