Improve Your Digital Nature Photography with Custom Camera Profiles
by Brenda K. Hipsher – November 14th, 2010
by Brenda K. Hipsher
Ever since X-Rite’s ColorChecker Passport was introduced about a year ago photographers have been discovering the absolute bliss of seeing their photographs with correct color from their digital sensors using Adobe products like Lightroom or Photoshop. Commercial, portrait, even editorial photographers have been quick to recognize the importance of being able to quickly get the RAW file with accurate color. I did not realize that Adobe raw converters attach a camera profile to every RAW image in the camera calibration window of the develop module. These profiles are generic ones and you can choose from several options all of which are sort of averages of what cameras of a particular model or type might use. None of them are specific to your sensor in your camera. So while they may produce some colors very well, others may suffer. And it’s really just chance how it all works out!
Nature photographers have often said to me something like, “I don’t really need it because I want to apply my creative vision to my photograph anyway.” And I wholeheartedly agree. My only question is, “Wouldn’t it be easier and more satisfying to START that process with an accurate look at what’s actually been captured?” That’s where ColorChecker Passport comes in and saves the day.
I’ve processed two JPEG files from the same RAW image above. Neither had anything done except the camera profile was changed from the default input profile in Lightroom on the left to the custom profile I made using the Lightroom plugin that installs automatically from the ColorChecker Passport software on the right. I took this picture. I can tell you without question that the scene actually looked like the one on the right. I was there. I stopped and took my camera out of the car because I was so taken with this tree. But when I opened it up in Lightroom initially and saw the image on the left, I wondered why on earth I’d gone to all that trouble! But when I got the Passport a couple of weeks later and made a custom sunlight profile for my camera…. well, you see it for yourself.
ColorChecker Passport let’s you make custom profiles for your camera in particular lighting situations or even taking into account two lighting sources. Because the profile is made for your particular camera sensor the color response for all the colors is more accurate. And applying the profile to 1000 pictures is just as easy as applying it to one picture using the “Sync” function in Lightroom.
All you need to do when you’re shooting is take a picture of the Passport properly exposed. You don’t need to interrupt your shooting or stop to do in camera white balance. As long as you’re shooting RAW you can create the profile, do the white balance, and apply both to a large number of photos with one click!
If you’re a nature photographer ColorChecker Passport can reduce your edit time and increase your satisfaction level the day you buy it. So get one and use it. You’ll be glad you did. Camera profiling is not just for commercial photographers. Everyone will enjoy seeing and processing accurate color from your particular sensor in your camera. Try it! You’ll be glad you did.