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Elements offers color management features whose main purpose is to get as close a match as possible, between the colors that you see in a photo when you're working on it in Elements, and the colors you get when you print the final photo. Color management can also help predict color in photos that you share online, but only if your viewers happen to be using your color managed Web browser to view your photos. Currently, not all Web browsers are color managed, so the techniques I'll show you here are most important for those of you who are planning to print your photos. Now, color management is a pretty complex subject, and it requires some equipment beyond just Elements' software, as I'll explain in this movie.
So, I want to make it clear from the start that color managing your photos, as I'll show you here, is optional. If you're printing casual snapshots only, or you're just posting photos online, and you're happy with the colors you're getting, you don't have to follow the color management workflow that I'll set out here. But if you use Elements to make high quality photo prints in which color accuracy is important to you, it's a good idea to practice the color management techniques that I'll lay out for you. The first step in the color management workflow in Elements is to choose the color space for the photos you're working on.
Make this choice before editing your photos in Elements Editor, so that the colors you see as you're editing are likely to match those in your final output photo. Choosing a color base is done by going to the Color Settings dialog box. I'll go to the Edit menu, and I'll choose Color Settings. That opens the Color Settings dialog box. Here you'll almost always want to choose one of the two middle options: Always Optimize Colors for Computer Screens, and Always Optimize for Printing. If you're preparing photos to be displayed on a computer screen, then choose Always Optimize Colors for Computer Screens. You use this if you normally work on photos that you upload to Web sites, to social media sites, that you send by e-mail, or that you include in slideshows, or PowerPoints that you run from your computer.
Making this choice, Always Optimize Colors for Computer Screens, will set the color space in which you'll be working to sRGB. The sRGB color space includes a relatively narrow range of colors, but that range of colors is similar to the colors that can be displayed on most typical computer screens, so this is the best choice when you're working on photos that will be displayed on computer screens. Alternatively, if you're preparing photos to print on your own desktop inkjet printer, the best choice is this one: Always Optimize for Printing, and I'm going to select that one now.
This choice will set the color space that you'll be working in not to sRGB, but to Adobe RGB, which is a wider range of colors, and one that an inkjet printer can usually accommodate. Now, if you're going to have someone else, like a service bureau, print your photos, before you make a choice here, ask the printer which color space they want you to use; either Adobe RGB, or the narrower, but commonly used color space, sRGB. If they say sRGB, then go back and choose Always Optimize Colors for Computer Screens, even though the photo is technically going to be printed, but if they're okay with an Adobe RGB file, then choose Always Optimized for Printing here.
By the way, whatever you choose in this dialog box is not set in stone. If later I were working on images that I wanted to put online, then I would come back into the Color Settings dialog box, and switch this Always Optimize Colors for Computer Screens, but when I'm working on images I'm going to print on my desktop inkjet printer, I'll leave this at Always Optimize for Printing, and I'll click OK,. And that determines the range of available colors that will be used to display my photos in Elements as I work on them here in the Editor. But exactly which color space is used to display each photo depends on whether that photo already has a color profile embedded in it.
So, what's the color profile? A color profile is a bit of text that describes the color space in which a photo is edited, or in which it was created, and that color profile stays with the image down the line, so your final output device, your printer, or a color managed Web browser, knows how you intended the colors to appear. A color profile might be embedded in a photo by digital camera, by you, as I will explain in a moment, or by someone else who worked on the photo previously. Let's see what happens when we open a file into this color space in my Elements Editor.
I'm going to go up to the File menu, and choose Open, I'll navigate to this file, and I'll click Open. Now, this particular photo is one that does not have a color profile embedded in it yet. I know that it is an untagged image. I would like to see what the color space is in which this photo is being edited. So, I'm going to switch from the Quick edit workspace, the default workspace in the Editor, over to the Expert edit workspace by clicking the Expert tab at the top of the Editor, and I'll come down to this small information area just at the bottom left of the document window.
If I click the arrow to the right of that information area, I see a dropdown menu from which I can choose Document Profile, and that tells me the color space that's being used to display this particular photo. Because this is an untagged image, Elements has assigned the color space that I chose back in my Color settings, the Adobe RGB color space. It would do the same if this was a photo that had the Adobe RGB color profile already embedded in it before I'd opened it. But what happens if I open a photo that has a different color space embedded in it? For example, if I open a photo that has the sRGB color profile embedded, then Elements won't display that photo in the broad Adobe RGB color space. Instead it will display that photo in the narrower sRGB color space.
In other words, it will honor the sRGB color profile, following the logic that the last user intended that to be the way the colors should look. And finally, if I open a photo that has a color profile embedded that Elements does not recognize or support, then Elements will convert and display the photo in the Adobe RGB color space; the one that I chose in my color settings. The next step in a color managed workflow is to make sure that the color profile is embedded in the photo that you're working on in Elements Editor, and you'll do that from the Save As dialog box. So let's say I have made some edits to this photo, and I'm ready to save it. I'll go up to the File menu, and I'll choose Save As, and that opens the Save As dialog box.
If you're on the Mac, this dialog box looks slightly different, but the options are very similar. Down here in the Color field, you'll see an ICC Profile, or color tag for the color space associated with the file; in this case, Adobe RGB. You can't choose a different profile here. All you can do here is choose to check or uncheck this box. It's important to check this box in order to embed the profile in the file, so that your printer, or a color managed Web browser knows what color space you edited the file in, and therefore how you intended its colors to look.
In this case, you remember that I started with an untagged file, then Elements assigned the Adobe RGB color space I'd chosen in my color settings to this file. But the Adobe RGB color tag has still not been embedded in this file, so if I were to uncheck this, and save, this would go back to being untagged file. So, I'll make sure that ICC profile Adobe RGB is checked here, and then I'll click Save. Now on to the next steps in your color management workflow. If you're preparing an image for print, as supposed to online viewing, there are even more color management tasks for you to do in the Print Dialog box.
There you'll tell your printer how you want to manage color, and choose the profile for the printer, and the paper that you'll be using to print with. The color management settings in the Print Dialog box look slightly different depending on whether you're printing from Elements on a Mac, from Elements Editor here in Windows, or from Elements Organizer on Windows. So, I'm going to cover all of those steps in the next movies, where I go through the Print dialog on each of those platforms. Finally, there's one more thing you should do to get the best results if you're following the color management workflow I've outlined here, and that is to calibrate your monitor, using a hardware device called a color calibrator.
Color calibrators are manufactured by a number of different third parties. To find a color calibrator, go to a Web browser, and Google monitor calibration. That should bring up a number of different color calibrators, and if you purchase one, it will come with its own instructions about how to use it. Calibrating your monitor with one of these devices creates a monitor profile that describes how your particular monitor displays color. Your monitor profile, the color profile embedded in your photo, which we talked about here, and your printer profile, which I'll cover in the next movies in this chapter, will all work together to try to give you consistent color throughout your photo workflow.
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