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Like this article? We recommend Configuring Photoshop for Adobe RGB (1998)

Configuring Photoshop for Adobe RGB (1998)

Once your camera’s set to the right color space, it’s time to set up Photo-shop that way. In Photoshop 5.5, when Adobe (and the world) was totally absorbed with Web design, they switched Photoshop’s default color space to sRGB (which some pros refer to as “stupid RGB”), which is fine for photos on the Web, but your printer can print a wider range of color (particularly in the blues and greens). So, if you work in sRGB, you’re essentially leaving those rich vivid colors on the table. That’s why we change our color space to Adobe RGB (1998), which is better for prints.

Step One:

Before we do this, I just want to reiterate that you only want to make this change if your final print will be output to your own color inkjet. If you’re sending your images out to an outside lab for prints, you should probably stay in sRGB—both in the camera and in Photoshop—as most labs are set up to handle sRGB files. Your best bet: ask your lab which color space they prefer. Okay, now on to Photoshop: go under the Edit menu and choose Color Settings (as shown here).

Step Two:

This brings up the Color Settings dialog. By default, it uses a group of settings called “North America General Purpose 2.” Now, does anything about the phrase “General Purpose” sound like it would be a good space for pro photographers? Didn’t think so. The tip-off is that under Working Spaces, the RGB space is set to sRGB IEC61966–2.1 (which is the longhand technical name for what we simply call sRGB, also sometimes referred to as “stupid RGB”). In short, you don’t want to use this group of settings. They’re for goobers—not for you (unless of course, you are a goober, which I doubt because you bought this book, and they don’t sell this book to goobers. It’s in each bookstore’s contract).

Step Three:

To get a preset group of settings that’s better for photographers, from the Settings pop-up menu, choose North America Prepress 2. Don’t let it throw you that we’re using prepress settings here—they work great for color inkjet printing because it uses the Adobe RGB (1998) color space. It also sets up the appropriate warning dialogs to help you keep your color management plan in action when opening photos from outside sources or other cameras (more on this on the next page).

Step Four:

Before you click OK, just for fun, temporarily change the Settings pop-up menu to North America Web/Internet. You’ll see that the RGB working space changes back to sRGB. That’s because sRGB is best suited for Web design. Makes you stop and think, doesn’t it? Now, switch back to North America Prepress 2, click OK, and Photoshop is configured with Adobe RGB (1998) as your RGB working space. However, you probably still want to know about the warnings you turned on, right?

Step Five:

About those warnings that help you keep your color management on track: Let’s say you open a JPEG photo, and your camera was set to shoot in Adobe RGB (1998), and your Photoshop is set the same way. The two color spaces match, so no warnings appear. But, if you open a JPEG photo you took six months ago, it will probably still be in sRGB, which doesn’t match your Photo-shop working space. That’s a mismatch, so you’d get the warning dialog shown here, telling you this. Luckily it gives you the choice of how to handle it. I recommend converting that document’s colors to your current working space (as shown here).

Step Six:

You can have Photoshop do this conversion automatically anytime it finds a mis-match. Just reopen the Color Settings dialog, and under Color Management Policies, in the RGB pop-up menu, change your default setting to Convert to Work-ing RGB (as shown here). For Profile Mis-matches, turn off the Ask When Open-ing checkbox. Now when you open sRGB photos, they will automatically update to match your current working space. Nice!

Step Seven:

Okay, so what if a friend emails you a photo, you open it in Photoshop, and the photo doesn’t have any color profile at all? Well, once that photo is open in Photo-shop, you can convert that “untagged” image to Adobe RGB (1998) by going under the Edit menu and choosing Assign Profile. When the Assign Profile dialog appears, click on the Profile radio button, ensure Adobe RGB (1998) is selected in the pop-up menu, then click OK.

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