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Before you get started with serious color work in Photoshop, it's a good idea to double check Photoshop's color settings. When you installed Photoshop, it may have asked you to configure some color settings--although different versions are more or less aggressive about that than others. So in Photoshop, just go to the Edit menu and choose Color Settings. Now if you're using a very old version of Photoshop, say a pre-Creative Suite version, then you probably won't have this. If you're using a version that old, you're not going to have a lot of color management options anyway, so you might want to consider an upgrade.
Color Settings basically let you insure that Photoshop's default behavior is going to be to use the color spaces that you prefer. For example, as you've seen, your camera can be set so that it shoots images and tags them with either the Adobe RGB or sRGB color spaces. There might be times, though, when your camera screws up and doesn't tag the image properly, and when Photoshop imports it it's not going to know what color space you want it to come in as. And so it's going to fall back to a default color space.
This is the default color space in Photoshop for RGB images. It's going to default to putting them into sRGB color space. So just pop that open and change it to Adobe RGB. From now on if you open an image that does not have a color space tag, Photoshop will automatically map it into Adobe RGB. If you create a new document, say you're going to create a new blank document at a certain size and start pasting some photos into it to build a collage, with your Color Settings set like this, that new document will have an Adobe RGB tag.
These other things, CMYK, Gray, Spot, you don't really need to worry about those unless you are preparing prints for non-inkjet printing processes. If you're in a pre-press situation where your prints are actually ultimately going out to a hard-core printing situation on a big printing press, then you'll need to worry about these. For our uses we only worry about the RGB color space. You might want to take a look at these Color Management Policies down here. This simply governs what's going to happen with profile mismatches.
For example, if my Working Space is set to Adobe RGB and my camera is set to sRGB, right now it's going to preserve that embedded profile, which means my images are going to come in as sRGB rather than be converted. If I want I can say Convert to the Working RGB space. I would set that to Convert to Working RGB, because particularly if you have multiple cameras, you might forget to set one of them on Adobe RGB, it will default to shooting an sRGB and then you'll be working in sRGB throughout your workflow and maybe not realize it, or maybe you reset your camera or the battery dies for a long time, and it loses its setting something like that.
This is just a way of ensuring that you will always be working in Adobe RGB. You also have this Off option which can be handy if you are processing photos for use in another program besides Photoshop, maybe your processing photos to go into a video image editing application of some kind. If you switch this to Off then as you can see down here, Turns off color management for newly created documents and for newly opened documents that have embedded color profiles. So Photoshop is not going to mess with the color. That means what you see on your screen in Photoshop will better match what the image looks like when you get it into another application.
But again, for most uses you're going to want to say Convert to Working RGB. You can also ask it to warn you before it does these things. Profile Mismatches, I can say ask me what to do when you're opening the document. In other words if I open an sRGB document now it will say, ooh, this is sRGB. What do you want me to do? I can also have it ask me when I'm pasting an image into a document. Finally, I can have it ask me when opening what to do if there is a missing profile.
So I'm going to be picky here about my profiles and leave all of this checked, because if something comes in that's not Adobe RGB-- either through opening or pasting or if something doesn't have a profile--I really want to be reminded of it. Finally, you have some more options here, most of these you can ignore. There are different color management engines. On the Mac you have a choice between the Adobe engine and Apple's Color Management engine. Windows give you similar options. Just leave it on Adobe. This Relative Colorimetric Intent is great at its default, we'll discuss what rendering intents are later. Leave all of these checkboxes checked.
The only thing in here that you may want to fiddle with is this Desaturate Monitor Colors By. If you're finding that your prints are always much less saturated than your monitor, then you can tell Photoshop just desaturate the colors by a certain amount. This is a very blunt brute force way of trying to get your monitor more in line with what you're seeing on your printer. I don't actually use this. I have a good monitor. I have an understanding that how my monitor relates to the page. But if you're finding you've got an older monitor that really pumps out saturated color, this is a way of getting that saturation back down.
So, those are the Photoshop Color Settings. If you are using other applications in the Adobe Creative Suite, such as Illustrator, then you will have similar Color Settings. InDesign has them also. You can actually save this batch of settings by clicking the Save button, and Photoshop knows how to sync and share these color settings across applications, so it's a nice way of getting these Color Settings moved to all of your other Creative Suite applications. This is probably the only time you'll need to look at this dialog box, just make sure it's configured properly so that moving forward you know that you will always be using the color space that you want for your images.
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