The Catalog Doctor Marketing Remedies for Multichannel Pro
Does that mean you must keep using a color house even though you've switched to all-digital photography? Technically, no. Just be sure that wherever your color is getting corrected, it possesses the following:
-A high-end SWOP-calibrated monitor;
- A high-end SWOP-calibrated printer/proofer; and
- A highly skilled color correction person with years of experience.
All this theoretically could be your photo studio, your design studio, a color house, your press vendor — or, you could do it in house. What's more, you can have the best SWOP-calibrated equipment, but you still won't get great color without a great color operator.
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 actually 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.
Back in film days, this sharpening — which doesn't actually sharpen an image, but rather makes it seem sharper by enhancing contrast along transition edges — was applied by a skilled drum-scanner operator. And most catalogers never knew it was happening. But today, since digital camera backs don't automatically apply this sharpening in most cases, the result is that digital captures often look "soft" or "unfocused."
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.
Susan J. McIntyre is Founder and Chief Strategist of McIntyre Direct, a catalog agency and consultancy in Portland, Oregon offering complete creative, strategic, circulation and production services since 1991. Susan's broad experience with cataloging in multi-channel environments, plus her common-sense, bottom-line approach, have won clients from Vermont Country Store to Nautilus to C.C. Filson. A three-time ECHO award winner, McIntyre has addressed marketers in Europe, Australia and New Zealand, has written and been quoted in publications worldwide, and is a regular columnist for Retail Online Integration magazine and ACMA. She can be reached at 503-286-1400 or email@example.com.