What is Color Management?

The term color management refers to a process wherein the characteristics of colors in each device being used are manipulated. This process allows the colors to remain consistent even when the image is transferred from one device to another. With using computer programs specifically made for the process, there is little user involvement required in most cases as the process occurs behind the scenes. However, learning and understanding how the process works is essential. The knowledge may also come in handy with fixing devices that show issues with reproducing certain colors.

Understanding the Imaging Chain  

The imaging chain involves a number of devices. When it comes to digital photography, the chain begins with the camera capturing the image of the subject. Next is the computer or a similar device which is used to display the captured image on a screen. This image is then relayed onto a printer which prints out the final image. There are other types of imaging chains and devices included in these chains. But even with the variety of devices and imaging chains, the concept and steps involved in managing the colors remains the same.

Why Profiles and Color References are Important

Any device which is involved in reproducing color will benefit from the process of managing colors. For photographers and other related fields, the need for more accurate color reproduction is necessary. No device is able to reproduce colors perfectly. However, consumers and professionals such as photographers would benefit in using devices which are capable of managing colors as it gives them greater control over any changes on the reproduction of colors from one device to another. Each type of device has its own set of color numbers which are used to identify certain colors. With the variety of devices, brands and models, the same color number may produce a slightly different hue when used on another device. Without using the management process, consumers may end up with viewing or printing their images that look different from the original image file. By using a tool which manages colors, the colors become consistent regardless of the number of devices being used or how many times the image is transferred.

The Steps Involved in the Management Process

Various types of computers and devices have a built in management tool. It works based on a system which consists of three essential steps and concepts standardized by the International Color Consortium. Understanding these concepts and steps will make it easier for users to manage several different devices and control how the colors are reproduced in each device. The first step involves characterization or determining how each device reproduces the same color number. This is known as the color profile which is distinct for each device. The color profile of each device is its response to a series of reference colors, a step referred to as standardization. These standardized profiles are then used to translate the colors of each device. As long as all of the devices use the same standard set of colors, the image retains its integrity regardless of how many devices are included in the imaging chain.