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Color management is a way to keep the colors in your photos as consistent as possible from camera to computer to printer and perhaps to web browser. Adobe has made color management as simple as possible in Elements, but it can still be a challenge. So I'd like to try to simplify it for you. Ideally, you want the colors in the photo that you ultimately print or post online to match the colors you see while you're processing that photo in Elements Editor. One step toward that goal is to choose the right color settings in Elements Editor.
The color settings are located under the Edit menu. In the Color Settings dialog box, there is a lot of text, but it basically boils down to one thing. Are most of the photos you process in Elements destined to be viewed on a computer screen or in print? If the answer is the screen, meaning a web site, a social media site, email or even a PowerPoint, then enable this option, Always Optimize Colors for Computer Screens. If the answer is Print, then enable this option, Always Optimize for Printing, as I'm going to do now.
This color setting determines how Elements will treat a color profile that's embedded in a photo when I open that photo into Elements for editing. A color profile is a bit of text that goes along with the file, tell each device that handles it, whether that's a printer, a computer or a web browser, how you meant the photos colors to look. A color profile can be embedded in a photo by another device like a camera. Because I've chosen the Print color setting here, depending on a photo's color profile, Elements will default to displaying colors according to the Adobe RGB color space, which is a relatively wide range of colors that most desktop printers can print.
If I had chosen the screen color setting up here, Elements default would be the sRGB color space, which is a narrower range of colors that most computer monitors can display. So these are the two choices to pay attention to here. I recommend that you ignore the other two options in this dialog box, No Color Management which gives you no control, and Allow Me to Choose, because this puts you in a position of having to deal with color management questions each time you open a photo, rather than just once here in the color settings.
If you do choose the Print option, as I am going to, and later you're processing images for the web, you can always come back into this Color Settings dialog box, and choose the screen option instead. So with the print option chosen I am going to click OK to close the Color Settings dialog box. Now some, but not necessarily all photos that you open into Elements Editor may already be tagged with a color profile, perhaps by a digital camera, or by some other editing software. Given the color setting I just chose, the print color setting, let's see how Elements handles photos that open into the program with different color profiles.
So I am going to open a few photos from back in my Organizer, I will select these photos in the Organizer, click the arrow next to the Fix tab, and choose Full Photo Edit. Here in the Editor, I'm going to start with this photo, double-clicking it in the Project Bin to show it up here in the document window. I know that this particular photo 13-01-untagged.jpg has no color profile embedded in it. Let's see how Elements is displaying the colors in this file. To see that, I will go down to this information field at the bottom of the document window, I will click the arrow to the right of it and I will choose Document Profile.
What Elements is telling me here is that it has assigned the Adobe RGB color profile to this photo, and it's displaying the colors in this photo in the relatively wide Adobe RGB color space. Now let's look at another photo, one that I already know has a color profile embedded in it. That's this first photo, the one that I named 13-01-adobergb.jpg. Down here in the document information field, I can see that Elements is honoring the Adobe RGB color profile that was embedded in this photo by my digital camera, and I get no warnings or messages, Elements is just honoring that tag and displaying the colors in this photo in the Adobe RGB color space.
Now let's open another photo, one that has a different color profile already embedded in it, perhaps from my digital camera. I'll double-click on this thumbnail in the Project Bin, and this photo which I have named 13-01-srgb, I know has an sRGB color profile embedded in it by my camera. And down in the document information field, I can see how Elements is handling this photo. It's honoring that embedded sRGB color profile, and displaying the colors in this photo in the relatively narrow sRGB color space.
That's because one of the rules in the color setting that I chose back in the Color Settings window is to honor a profile that's embedded in a photo even if that profile isn't one that's ideal for printing. Following the logic that whatever profile is embedded, must have been included there purposely. Choosing a color setting to control the color space in which Elements displays a photo is the first step in a color manage workflow. There are a few more color management steps related to saving, printing, and profiling your monitor. When you save a file in Elements Editor, in the Save As dialog box, you can choose whether or not to keep the ICC profile embedded with the file, so that the next display device down the line be that a color managed printer or a web browser, knows how you intend the colors in the file to look.
It's crucial to keep this box checked if you plan to print the image. It's also a good idea to check this box if you're planning to post the image online, because these days, many web browsers can read color profiles which is a relatively new development. Normally, I'd click save at this point, but I'm going to click Cancel, to show you what to do about color management if you're going to print a photo from Elements. I will go to the File menu and I will choose Print. We will be looking at the Print dialog box in much more detail later in the course.
For now, I am going to go down to the More Options button at the bottom of the Print dialog box, and then, I'm going to click Color Management. If you've been following the steps I have outlined in this movie, then the best choice here in the Color Handling field is Photoshop Elements Manages Colors. If you don't follow the other color management steps I am outlining here, then leave this set to Printer Manages Colors. Then click OK and you can either print or as I'm going to do right now, cancel out of here.
And finally, there's one more step to color management. If you want the steps that I've described in this movie to give you the best results, you should also calibrate and profile your monitor every month or so, using a device called a colorimeter which you can purchase separately from a third-party like the X-Rite company. You can find out more about color calibrators and profiles, by researching those subjects online. So a combination of all these steps, choosing the best color profile to match your kind of output, embedding the color profile when you save, and when you print, and calibrating and profiling your monitor with a third-party device, will get you the most consistent color throughout your workflow.
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