Push Your Camera Profile to the MAX
by Alan Winslow – November 14th, 2017
Fall Foliage and a Custom Camera Profile make a Perfect Pair
Whether you’re aware or not, Adobe software attaches a camera profile to each raw image you process in any Adobe program. In this article we look at using a custom camera profile in Adobe Lightroom.
Growing up in the Adirondacks means that Fall is very near and dear to my heart. Every year hundreds of photographers track the leaf maps waiting for peak colors to hit. If you are a couple of days off on either end, you’ll get green leaves with little color or bare trees. So for this project, preparation and quick action were critical.
Pack Light for Quick Travel
This year I headed to the High Peaks for two days in the backcountry during peak foliage. I had to move quickly. So I packed as little gear as possible. Here’s what was in my bag.
- Nikon D810
- Nikon 28-300 lens,
- Memory Cards
- X-Rite ColorChecker Passport Photo
I also packed all my food, and camping gear for two days in the backcountry.
One Photo in the Field is All You Need!
It is important to use the full capabilities of my camera’s sensor to produce the most accurate and vibrant colors. To ensure proper results, I photographed my ColorChecker Passport every time the light shifted. At the end of the two days, I created four custom camera profiles using the Lightroom Plugin for Camera Calibration software. I later applied the custom profiles to my images in an edit. Here’s the workflow when shooting:
- Capture images in raw
- Use any White Balance setting EXCEPT auto white balance
- Take a well-exposed photo in each lighting condition
That’s it! One quick shot when the light changes give us everything we need to create custom profiles in post-production. Here’s a quick video to get you started making your own custom camera profile.
Apply the appropriate profile to each image in that lighting condition, use the ColorChecker grey ramp to white balance after applying the profile, and sync all the images shot in that lighting. To preserve the golden light of early morning and late afternoon, use a daylight white balance setting in camera, apply the profile the first or last image in the series, and sync the photos without white balancing. This will allow the beautiful warm light of the golden hours to be preserved while optimizing the color rendition of your camera sensor.
Apply the Custom Profile
After climbing four peaks, I came back with these images, applied my custom profiles in post-production, and edited them as usual.
In this example we see the importance of a custom camera profile. On the right we see the profile that Lightroom automatically chooses for camera profile. The portion of the image on the left shows how much more vibrant the colors appear when the custom camera profile for my camera sensor is applied. Even before editing the image it’s easy to see the increase in saturation and accurate color rendition.
Sun broke out of the clouds as I peaked the first summit. These beautiful yellows are at their best using the custom camera profile for full sun.
The custom camera profile for Deep Shade opened all the color channels and made the tent on the right really stand out.
After summiting the last mountain of the trip, I was awarded with a meandering river of Deciduous trees cutting through all the Conifers.
If you already own a 24 patch ColorChecker Classic you can download Camera Calibration Software and try this out. You’ll want to get your own ColorChecker Passport Photo to carry in your bag in the field. The hard plastic cover keeps your targets out of the light, safe and dry.