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George Jardine

In all of my experience, the most critical and misunderstood aspect of creating successful digital photographs, is effective color management. But it doesn't have to be that way.

During my tenure at Adobe Systems working on "Project Shadowland" (which became Lightroom 1.0), we interviewed literally thousands of working photographers. I now teach workshops and offer comprehensive digital photography training materials online. In the course of doing these interviews and workshops over the years, I eventually came to see two things. The first thing I see is that the biggest roadblock to creative expression for passionate amateurs (and even many pros!) is a clear understanding of color management, and the importance of basic display calibration. The second thing I learned was that the common thread amongst successful, top-flight shooting pros is the mastery of color reproduction. And that simply means, the quality of the presentation of their work is superior, polished, and professional.

The first step toward achieving that kind of professional-level work, is understanding that good color management starts with the display, and follows all the way through to your prints and offset reproduction. There are no short-cuts, but we now have the tools to help make achieving good color infinitely easier than it was just a few, short years ago.

Another case-in-point. In my weekend workshops, I am frequently confronted with a wide variety of classroom lighting conditions. I carry my own very good projector to each workshop, but not only does classroom lighting vary dramatically, but rental screens in conference rooms are rarely consistent or optimal. The net effect is that when you're trying to teach color correction to a large group using projection for display, it's nearly impossible to present accurate color.

Today, X-rite has solved this gnarly problem that has plagued educators for years with its newly designed i1Profiler software and new colorimeter i1Display Pro. When I arrive to set up a workshop or lecture, the first thing I do is put an i1Display Pro on a stand next to my projector, aim it at the screen, and build a profile. The entire process takes just a couple of minutes. Before I'm even finished setting up I have perfect color for projection, custom tuned for the room, the screen, the ambient light, my computer graphics card, and my projector.