Catalog Doctor: Digital Remedies for Print Profits
Option #3: Install your own SWOP-calibrated printer.
Option #4: Send all your images to a color house, which already has high-end, calibrated equipment.
Option #5: Have your press vendor generate your proofs.
In all cases, you’ll need to review proofs, correct color, and then keep re-outputting proofs until all the colors are right. Who should correct the color?
Problem: “I learned Photoshop, so can’t I correct color in the studio?”
The Doctor’s Remedy: Photo studios have gone through a technological learning curve (and equipment investment) over the past decade. They’ve learned new skill sets, including color correction.
Back when catalogers shot film and always used a color house, color correction was done by highly skilled folks. Good color correction was — and still is — a complex, detailed operation.
Do you have to keep using a color house even though you’ve switched to all-digital photography? No. But be sure that wherever your color is getting corrected, it possesses the following: a high-end SWOP-calibrated monitor and printer/proofer; and a highly skilled color correction person.
Why Aren’t My Digital Photos Sharp?
Problem: “Back when we shot film, all our shots were sharp. Now that we’ve switched to all-digital, our shots all look ‘soft’ or ‘unfocused.’ Do I have to give up sharp, crisp images?”
The Doctor’s Remedy: No, you don’t. But you do have to take steps to regain sharpness in your digital imaging process. Research has shown that the human eye doesn’t just passively capture an image on the rods and cones of the retina — our brains enhance the retina’s images by elevating all contrast differences. And that’s exactly what the strangely named “unsharp masking” function does in PhotoShop and other digital image processing programs.
The solution is proper application of sharpening, which isn’t a simple thing to get right. It’s also not something your photographer can necessarily optimize just by looking at a monitor. So pay close attention to “unsharp masking,” learn its appearance, what too much of it looks like (things begin looking as if they’ve been traced), and make sure your digital professionals are applying it optimally.