Colors and fashion photography

color tableA very common problem with pictures for catalogues and online stores is the discrepancy between the colors on the photo, and the colors of the pictured garment, sample, or object.

What do you lose from the lack of correct colors? The main problem is that the clients won’t know what they are buying. Most of our customers do their shopping from tablets and Smartphones. They, unlike PCs, are consummated product, and are factory calibrated. This advantage gives to the customers’ very decent and accurate colors, correct white balance, and a good range of color reproduction. Clients are becoming much more exigent and they insist on knowing what exactly are they going to buy. This especially concerns the fashion industry.

Why do discrepancies of the colors appear? The answer is very simple. Just like we use a tailoring meter to measure a meter of cloth, we have to use templates to determine the correct colors. In view of the fact that in other genres of photography there is no such need for correct color reproduction, and color management, these techniques are not well-known, and they are often being overlooked. We are using the so-called color tables. They represent templates of specifically defined colors, with which special software does recalculations and corrections of the colors. As with every other color scheme, a picture of the specific table is being done, and the so-called color profile is being generated by the camera. The majority of RAW converters offer standard color profiles, which are very far from the real colors. The generated new profile is being inserted into the RAW converter, and it indicates to replace the standard profile.
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Another important standard in photography is the so-called grey card. It gives us a neutral color with 18% of grey. Why neutral and why 18% you may ask. Neutral is the color whose components are the same. For example, in 127, 127, 127. When we are shooting with such card and we show the converter that this is a grey card, then it will recalculate all colors. This is called – white balance setting. You have probably seen photos, which look green or yellow. The reason for this is the incorrect definition of the white balance.

Why 18% of grey? It had been found that this color is exactly half of the dynamic range, or if it is correctly illuminated, it will give us a color 127, 127, 127. In this way, we can determine whether we have the right exposure or not.
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The picture on the left is with a corrected, defined with a color table and a color profile, and corrected with a grey card, white balance. On the right, you can see a standard Adobe profile and auto white balance.

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All this applies to the correctly defined exposure. Another very important tool for correct color management is the flash meter, although it doesn’t have a direct relation to the colors. All standards – grey card and color card, must be shot at the correct exposure. The wrong assessment of the exposure will lead to

distortion of the perception of colors. For example, dark green could be perceived as light green, which will definitely confuse the customer’s choice. Especially critical are the differences in the borders of the dynamic range of the media (the lightest and darkest shades of the colors).