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Color management can be a difficult subject, but fortunately Photoshop Elements attempts to simplify color management so that it's as easy as possible to deal with. I would like to talk for a minute about color management and how it works in Elements. First of all, what is the problem that color management attempts to solve, you have probably had the experience of working with a photo on your computer either in Elements or another digital imaging program and the colors looked great. But when you printed the photo or when you put it up on a website, maybe the colors just didn't look exactly the same as they had when you were working on it on your screen.
The reason is that colors are really just numerical values, which have to be interpreted to become colors that we can see. Every device that you use in your digital life has a unique way of translating color values into visible colors. Your camera, your monitor, your printer, your scanner, all interpret colors in different ways, so that's the problem. The solution is that manufacturers of these kinds of devices got together and came up with a system of color management with the goal of trying to create consistency among colors, so that the colors you see in a photo when you are editing it in Photoshop Elements will look as close as possible to the colors you might see when you print that photo or when you upload it to the web or send to someone by email or you are showing it to other people on a computer screen.
This color management system in a nutshell involves adding tiny pieces of information to every photo. Those pieces of information are called color profiles that describe the way you want colors to be interpreted by devices in you digital workflow. Now, how does Photoshop Elements deal with color management? The first stop in handling color management in Elements is the Color Settings dialog box. You will open that by going in the Editor to the Edit menu at the top of the screen and choosing Color Settings.
It's worth taking the time to read through this narrative to understand the different choices that Elements is offering you. In this dialog box, you will get to choose how you are going to manage color in your images. The first choice here, No Color Management, is not the one that I recommend. When you choose No Color Management, then you are allowing Elements to display colors in a file using the idiosyncratic way that your particular monitor displays color and that isn't necessarily the way the colors are going to be displayed anywhere else, on anyone else's monitor or in a print.
Also, when you choose No Color Management, there are no color profiles attached to your photos and so the next device down the line, say your printer, won't know how you expect the colors in the photo to be interpreted. The next choice, Always Optimize Colors for Computer Screens is a good one, particularly if most of the photos you are working on you share with other people online. What this does is keeps the colors that you see on screen within the sRGB color range as it says here. The sRGB color range reflects the way that most computer monitors display color. So again, if you are creating something for the screen like a slideshow of your photos or email attachments or photos that you intend to share online, perhaps on Photoshop.com or on a website, then Always Optimize Colors for Computer Screens is the best color settings choice.
However, if you are someone who usually prints their photos on an inkjet printer say, then the best choice for you is this one, Always Optimize for Printing. This will display your photos based on the colors in the AdobeRGB color space as it says here. The AdobeRGB color space offers the broadest range of colors. So, it works quite well for printed images. The last choice allow me to choose, might sound good, but actually it's going to give you a headache because every time that you open a file that does not contain a color profile, Elements is going to ask you what you want to do and that means you constantly have to make a color management choice.
So again, choose either Always Optimize Colors for Computer Screens, if you share photos primarily on the web by email or by showing slideshows from your computer. Choose Always Optimize for Printing if you most often print your photos on your desktop inkjet printer and when you are done making that choice, click OK. Now what you see on your screen in Elements is most likely to match the colors or your output photos. There are two other pieces to color management and those come into play when you save an image and when you print an image. We will talk about those in our lessons on printing and saving in this course.
One more thing, if you really want your color settings to do their job, you have to calibrate your monitor. That means set it to its standard settings and generate a profile for your monitor which describes how your particular monitor interprets color. The way to do that is to purchase and use a hardware calibrator, which you can buy from a number of different third party manufacturers. I urge you to do this, but even if you don't, please do choose the correct color settings for your favorite output.
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