Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Printing Your Photographs - RGB or CMYK?

Lots of commercial printers use CMYK colour space which will print out differently if the image mode being printed is RGB. If the printer uses CMYK colours, changing the image mode to CMYK gives a closer representation of what the print out will actually look like. Also if you "calibrate" your monitor it can help with printing colours but not all printers use the same colour profiles or the same ink.

Trying to print an image that is rendered in RGB on a printer that uses CMYK is a bit like trying to see what the weather is doing by looking through a window covered by net curtains. If you are using professional printers you need to be aware what colour space they are using. Saving your image in RGB is fine if you are printing at home on an all-in-one home/office printer but if your printer uses CMYK it will affect the way the image looks and this could be significantly different from the way it looks on your computer screen.

This is a quote form the Jessops website:-

"To meet the requirements of as many customers as possible, we base our automatic workflow on sRGB colours that are then converted to the outputting systems with the help of ICC profiles. For digital printing processes we convert the sRGB colours to the CMYK colour space shortly before printing.

"Jessops Photo Software allows for embedded RGB-ICC Profiles. Images in AdobeRGB, ECI-RGB or ProPhotoRGB colour space will be interpreted correctly in these software versions.

"If you send us your images in any other colour space, we are suggesting the following steps to ensure the optimal colour results: Convert your images to sRGB (e.g. in Adobe Photoshop go to "Edit" and then "Convert to Profile"). Afterwards please integrate your images into the layout of your Jessops Photo product."

This explains why so often photographs we print don't always come out how we see them on the monitor: the printer software is converting the RGB colour space to CMYK. If you are planning to pop into the local printers tomorrow, try asking them if they accept images in the CMYK colour space. Also calibrate your monitor (if that is even possible) which will give you a better idea how your images will come out. There are certain situations when you have to convert to CMYK and most professionals in the media/printing industry understand this. That is exactly why companies like Jessops print in CMYK and do the conversion from RGB for you. If you are happy printing at home or with a "near enough" conversion from RGB to CMYK go ahead. RGB will be adequate for most "best practices". RGB (red, green, blue) is an additive system (add colours together to get white) whereas CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow, black) is a subtractive system (add colours together to get black). This is why all printers are CMYK and all monitors are RGB.

However, when I send book files to the printers for publishing they must be in CMYK . I have to work on the files and render them in CMYK to know "exactly" what they are going to look like when they come off the press. My company even have a disclaimer saying if you upload images in RGB it will cause colour problems and they will not take responsibility for them. Printing from RGB isn't even an option for most publishing professionals. Images are rendered in RGB and printers print in CMYK , there has to be a conversion somewhere.

I can print framed photography prints of high resolution RGB no problem, but I cannot afford book covers coming back from the printers with dull colours or anything less than they looked on the screen, or as near as my screen is to calibrated anyway. That is why all the files I upload for publishing are print-ready PDF's with CMYK embedded high resolution images.

The point is, if I open the file in CMYK like I should, I don't need to convert the file from RGB to CMYK. If I forget or I am busy and I use sRGB then I need to convert the files to US Web Coated (SWOP) v2 (a CMYK profile), and then have to retouch the images because the colours lose vividness during the conversion, a loss I don't need coming back from the printers.

I primarily print paperback full colour covers on glossy finish.My printers won't even accept lossy conversions from RGB and they are one of the biggest companies in the publishing industry. When I upload files to the web the best results are RGB. When I upload to the printers they have to be in CMYK (talking from years of experience). Regarding which profile is best for printing, sRGB (standard red, green, blue) or aRGB (Adobe red, green, blue), it doesn't really matter as far as the printer is concerned because they are converted to CMYK anyway, although some will prefer one or the other depending what software they use for the conversion. Photoshop loves CMYK and PDF's and can handle the conversion no problem. But if you render the files in the same CMYK profile that the printers use there will not be any conversion, which means no losses of colour integrity - you get what you see on the screen - more or less. More than RGB gives you anyway.

From wikipedia (in American):-

"The Adobe RGB (1998) color space is an RGB color space developed by Adobe Systems, Inc. in 1998. It was designed to encompass most of the colors achievable on CMYK color printers, but by using RGB primary colors on a device such as a computer display. The Adobe RGB (1998) color space encompasses roughly 50% of the visible colors specified by the Lab color space – improving upon the gamut of the sRGB color space, primarily in cyan-green hues."

The mistake people make is that RGB looks better on the screen but loses colour when converting to CMYK so most people do not use CMYK for that reason. Which is understandable. RGB is fine for most applications. However, working on the file and saving in CMYK would prevent such losses that might be incurred from the printers. Keeping in mind all physical printers use different inks and have different hardware and colour profiles so no two printers will ever give the same results. That's why I say (with tongue in cheek) "calibrate your monitor" because of course you can't accurately calibrate your monitor any more than you can calibrate your own vision. Or calibrate reality for that matter.

That's why we have guidelines and goal posts and if you kick the ball somewhere between the goal posts you are likely to get the result you want... more or less accurately depending on the integrity of the printer you are using. I imagine with today's technology the RGB-to-CMYK conversion is pretty good, although I know for fact some photography prints come back less vividly than the images that got sent out, a problem I don't have when designing book covers thankfully.

"My principle is this: if it looks good it worked.
So I must have done something right."

Matt Blythe.

Talking of which, the finished cover design for Vitor Rodrigues' new book is now ready for uploading to the printers. Coming to a bookshop near you soon.  This is a RGB jpeg for uploading to the internet, the print-ready file is a CMYK layered / embedded PDF.

As a general rule, RGB is better for displaying on the internet (on a web page for example) and CMYK is better for lossless printing. Choose whatever is best for you :)

Matt Blythe.

Click the image to enlarge.

Copyrights © Matt Blythe 2014.

Friday, 29 August 2014

Photography With the Apple iPhone

This image of the sun bursting through clouds was taken from Brighton Racecourse. The street light gives the impression that it is illuminating the whole of Brighton. Awesome!

The iPhone isn't really up to a lot of zoom and the image becomes quite grainy, quite quickly, in proportion to the amount of zoom you use, and most of the foreground was in dark shadow. As far as I know the iPhone is 'aperture priority' in that it adjusts the exposure by increasing the shutter speed and always uses the same f stop number 2.4 and the lowest ISO possible, which is somewhere between 50 and 800 (with the 4S model) and 3200 with the iPhone 5, so there isn't much scope for landscapes where you want depth of field and sharp focusing across the image by using a bigger f stop number (smaller aperture).

However, if you are out and about and you see an awesome sunset - and an iPhone is all you have handy - you can still take some pretty impressive shots with the 8mp front camera. This image was enhanced using the Adobe Photoshop Express App for iPhone, which is a bit basic, but OK for a phone app if you just want to make quick adjustments to things like contrast and brightness.

Another trick I discovered with iPhone (and most digital cameras) is that if you take the photograph in low light but turn the flash off, because the iPhone is auto-everything, it compensates for the low light by decreasing the shutter speed and increasing the ISO. The result is the picture is brighter and more vivid than it would have been in bright light or with the flash on.

You can also adjust exposure on the iPhone by tapping the screen before you take the photograph. Tapping the screen selects the point you want to focus on and also exposes the image for that area, so the exposure can be adjusted somewhat by tapping lighter or darker areas of the image. If one thing can be said about the iPhone camera, it is that it is versatile across a broad spectrum of lighting conditions.

See the images below for more photography taken with the iPhone (click the images to enlarge). To view all iPhone photographs in this set click here.

For more great photography tips like these, visit the Inner Vision Photography blog.

Copyrights © Matt Blythe 2014.

Sunday, 17 August 2014

New Facebook Page ~ Please Like

Trying out the Facebook embed code... come and like our new page on Facebook :)

Inner Vision Photography

Copyrights © Matt Blythe 2014.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

How To Photograph Lightning

To photograph lightning you need to set the camera up to expose for no more than about 30 seconds and ideally you need a tripod and a remote control shutter release. If you do not own a remote shutter release you can set your camera to self timer (2 second delay) which will open your shutter 2 seconds after you press the shutter release button and will avoid camera movement during exposure. You need to position your camera in a dark place pointing towards the lightning, and then when you intuitively feel like a bolt of lightning is eminent, open the shutter.... if you are lucky and the lightning happens for you... you need to close the shutter as soon as possible to avoid light pollution from further lightning, which can over expose your shot. I aim for around 15 to 30 seconds exposure at around f5.6 and ISO 400 but often need to adjust these depending on the intensity of the storm and how far away it is. 

If you use either your cameras "Bulb" or "Time" setting you can open the shutter by pressing the shutter button and it will close when you release the button, or next time press the button in the case of "Time". This removes the need to set the shutter speed and you can expose your photograph intuitively or even count a number of seconds until you close it again.

If you do not move your camera when taking photos, you can also combine multiple shots post production, with Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom, which can create a dramatic affect. If you do not get your perfect lightning photo first time, be patient... it may take you several attempts to get the shot you are happy with.

NOTE : Do not stand outside in a lightning storm! Not only are you at risk of being struck by lightning but your equipment might get wet too. Ideally, you will want to wait until the storm passes and then go somewhere high up and photograph it from a distance, for the widest angle possible. 

These are just guidelines of course and it is up to you to be creative and exercise caution.

Good luck and have fun but above all BE SAFE.

My first attempts at photographing lightning storms
(click images to enlarge).

Copyrights © Matt Blythe 2014.

Monday, 30 June 2014

Metering Vs Manual - A Rough Guide

The images below were from an unplanned photo shoot I happened into at sunrise on the beach not long ago in my local town on the Isle of Wight. I started taking photographs in Aperture Priority but it did not suit the lighting conditions. The sun was bright and already quite high up in the sky and there was a white haze diffusing the sunlight causing metering problems. I got some nice shots in Auto Mode, which is always the easy option, but I found by under exposing the images slightly in Manual Mode (by increasing the shutter speed and reducing the size of the aperture, while keeping the lowest ISO possible) I was able to expose correctly for the sun and still maintain image integrity in the shadows. This also made post production retouching a lot easier.

There are basically two schools of thought when it comes to retouching images, and (in my experience) most photographers prefer to either slightly over or underexpose their images for retouching. Personally, I prefer under exposed images as the camera sensor retains more information in the image, even if you cannot see it initially when you take the shot. Under exposed images are also better (in my experience) for creating images with a high dynamic range. Images with a high dynamic range basically have a lot of information and details in the image across a high range in both the shadows and the highlights. This can be done either by combining images of different exposures or by correctly exposing an image, and then correcting for any over/under exposure post production, with software like Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom.

Metering is only a guide and unless you are using the camera a lot in Auto modes it is almost always better to achieve the results you want in manual. I use metering to give me a 'rough guide' to the exposure settings, then thinking about what kind of affect I want, I dial in the settings in manual. This invariably results in an over/under exposed picture, then it is simply a case of adjusting shutter speed, aperture and/or ISO until I find what I call the "sweet spot". I next to never use Aperture Priority as I usually choose the aperture based on what kind of affect I want and then set the shutter speed accordingly. Of course this doesn't always work if you have moving subjects and want to take action shots where you might not have time to play around with the correct settings, in which case, Automatic Mode or Shutter Priority would be the better options. This tutorial is best suited to landscape photography.

I call it the sweet spot because when you find it, you can adjust settings one or two stops either side and still get a great photo, and with that in mind just click away. I don't use exposure compensation unless I am in extreme light conditions for example, in snow or shooting directly into the sun in bright daylight, although using exposure compensation can give you an exposure somewhere between f stops which can be helpful.

Sometimes I shoot in Auto and get great images, but if you want more flexibility in the affect you want to capture, you need to get a feel for the settings in manual. For me getting a great photo is about getting the camera to see what I am seeing so you can share that with others. It doesn't have to be perfect. Sometimes you get a great photo when you least expect it, which is part of the joy of photography! Anyone can do it. But to do it well means Mastering the camera and what it does is just part of the learning process.... like learning to play a musical instrument... it's not about what you play, or which instrument necessarily... it's about how you play that is an expression your own Inner Vision.

Hope this helps and good luck with your photography (click the images to enlarge).

Original Images:

Over exposed.
Correctly under exposed.

Retouched Images:

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More tutorials and great images coming soon  :)

Copyrights © Matt Blythe 2014.

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Up Close With Veronica

It was a lovely day so I ventured into the garden with my camera to see what would inspire me. The Veronica on my rockery was just starting to come into flower so I thought I would try for a close up.

I took this using my 18-55mm kit lens at 55mm using aperture priority with f7.1 and ISO 200.  I was within six inches of this beautiful little flower when I took the shot. I'm really happy with the exposure and I haven't needed to retouch it at all. The original uncropped image is below.

Copyrights © Andrea Munns 2014.

Monday, 5 May 2014

Sunset Over Monyash

Hello and welcome to my first post on the blog. Having got into photography at the beginning of last year I now own a Nikon Coolpix P510 and a Nikon D5200. Currently living in the Peak District I have plenty of beautiful places to photograph. I hope you like my contributions.

I took this picture on a lovely April evening using a 55-300mm lens and the camera on full auto mode (yes I know but I only had about twenty minutes of light left and didn't have time to find the correct exposure settings).

The top picture has been retouched to bring out the colours with the original below.

Click the images to enlarge.

Copyrights © Andrea Munns 2014.

Monday, 21 April 2014

New Admin and FREE SUBSCRIPTIONS by Email

My friend +Andrea is helping me to administer and maintain the Inner Vision Photography side of things and is a contributor to this blog with full admin' privileges! We share a mutual interest in photography and even own the same camera so we will be sharing our breakthroughs and images through this page and this is an ideal opportunity to show case our inspiration and love for the art of photography. This will include tips and tricks for taking better photographs, things we learn as we go along and of course our own digital still images. Feel free to ask anything and contact us through the blog. Also check our page over at Google and give us a "Plus One". Also follow this blog... this is where most of the creativity will be happening as we develop the Inner Vision Photography platform. If you subscribe by email you will receive a notification every time the blog is updated with a new post. THIS IS COMPLETELY FREE OF CHARGE and you can easily unsubscribe at any time if you change your mind. We are aiming to update the blog regularly for our friends and subscribers and will be adding product reviews and recommendations too :)

Below is a photograph from Andrea's recent visit to see the
Northern Lights in Norway, 240 miles inside the Arctic Circle.

View from the lodge balcony.

Click the image to enlarge.

Copyrights © Matt Blythe 2014.

Sunday, 20 April 2014

The Humble Street Light

I have actually got used to them now, but the new efficient LED street lights definitely have a calming affect on people. I am wondering if the local carnival will be affected by the new street lights? If you want to remember what the old pink and orange streets lights look like (photographs below), visit Ryde Seafront on the Isle of Wight before they change them... it is a much friendlier atmosphere. These photographs were taken at night with the Nikon D5200 on a mini-tripod resting on the sea wall. If you would like to know the actual camera settings you can see them on my Flickr photostream by clicking here.

Most of the photos were taken with around 1/4 of a second shutter speed and aperture at f5.6. You will find that if you increase the ISO to around 4000 at night, you can still use a reasonably fast shutter speed and not have to worry too much about camera shake. I experimented with the shots of Spinnaker Tower with longer shutter speeds and found the best results came at around 2 seconds exposure. I only had my 18-55mm lens with me and although it does not have much in the way of zooming in on far away objects, I find it very useful for framing a shot where wide angle is more of a priority. If your camera and/or lens has vibration reduction (VR) switch it on, otherwise use a tripod. And if you are lucky enough to have a built in light meter, that usually gives you some idea of the camera settings you will need for correct exposure, or is a good place to begin at least. As a general guide, nice bright shots can be achieved at night by upping your ISO, opening your aperture by using a smaller f stop number, and by decreasing your shutter speed.

Also watch the Youtube video embedded below for more inspirational and influential Inner Vision Photography ideas!

  Click the images to enlarge.
Copyrights © Matt Blythe 2014.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Awesome Peace

Photograph looking out over Sandown Bay at sunrise in April 2012.
Awe inspiring and peaceful.
Click the image to enlarge.
Copyrights © Matt Blythe 2014.

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Macro Vision

Click image to Enlarge.

The subtle shadow and back-light make an outstanding macro opportunity.
 Untouched and straight from my memory card.
Taken with the Canon S3 iS.

Copyrights © Matt Blythe 2014.

Monday, 31 March 2014

Shoreham Power Station - Before and After Photoshop

I have revised our policy on post production touching up of photographs (for want of a more appropriate metaphor). I used to think that it was prudent not to touch up photos post production and that the art of being a good photographer boiled down to getting the camera to see what I was seeing to some extent and being able to record that with beauty and posterity. However with the onset of the digital camera phenomenon, most images can be changed and completely different photographs of the same scene can be taken with only the simple press of a button to change a setting on your camera. It is also true these days that on many digital cameras images can be edited and touched up on the camera before you even download them to the computer.

So in the interests of transparency and producing outstanding images from digital photographs that might otherwise have been disregarded to the recycle bin, Inner Vision Photography will now be experimenting with post production image remastering (in other words playing around with Photoshop or Lightroom when circumstances deem necessary).

Below is an example of one of my first attempts to enhance a photograph taken on Sussex South Downs with the Nikon CoolPix P510. The "Baby Nikon" as it became affectionately known, has a really high magnification zoom lens and is extremely versatile in all kinds of lighting conditions, most notably low light.

Baby Nikon

The image below was enhanced by increasing the contrast and turning up the hue by a small amount. I brought out the colours in the clouds by selecting an area above the field and adjusting that separately. If you zoom in on the image you can see where I had to smooth the edge of the field which was done with a healing brush tool / eraser and by feathering the edge of the selected area. This made the overall photo look more colourful and dramatic. If I wanted to make it look professional I would probably select the area above the horizon to work with and spend more time on it, but for a quick job I am quite pleased with the result.

Copyrights © Matt Blythe 2014.

Cool Pix from the Nikon P510


  Click the images to enlarge.
Copyrights © Matt Blythe 2014.