Color Spaces and Color Pallets

By , June 9, 2014 2:17 pm
This image of my wife Abby isn't about numbers and charts; it is about a beautiful moment with a beautiful woman.

This image of my wife Abby isn’t about numbers and charts; it is about a beautiful moment with a beautiful woman.

A friend was playing around with the menu settings of my Nikon D7100 not long ago, and asked me, “Now, why would you have it set to sRGB?”

sRGB, for those of you who don’t know, is a color space, which is a way various devices, from cameras to computers to printers to the internet, describe color to each other.

I told my friend that I picked it because I felt it would be more compatible with different devices and operating systems, but the truth, of course, is that color space, for almost all of us, is irrelevant.

You can search for a color space chart on the internet. It is a chart with some numbers on it. Like a lot of the world of cameras and other fetish properties, it is a good way to distract yourself from actually taking pictures.

I’m not saying there is no reason to select one color space or another. I am saying that almost no one except the highest level professional, studio, huge-agency photographers, who need to be able to manage the minutia of color at every step of the process, every day, for high-dollar clients, needs to worry about color space at all. sRGB contains all the color information you and I will ever need.

If you’re a computer geek and think you can prove me wrong with numbers, I can prove you wrong with a spectacular portfolio, online, published, and printed.

If you are worried about color space, you’re not taking enough pictures. The only color that really matters is what you see in the world. Perception of color is human and organic, and isn’t about numbers or charts; it is about vision.

If you look at this image and wonder if it was shot in Adobe color space or sRGB, the answer is simple: it was shot in the morning.

If you look at this image and wonder if it was shot in Adobe color space or sRGB, the answer is simple: it was shot in the morning.

One Response to “Color Spaces and Color Pallets”

  1. Wil C. Fry says:

    Well said.

    One of the few times I fully agree with Ken Rockwell: “Adobe RGB should never be used unless you really know what you’re doing and do all your printing yourself. If you really know what you’re doing and working in publishing, go right ahead and use it. If you have to ask, don’t even try it.”

    There comes a point of diminishing returns for the photographer in subjects like this. At some point I had to quit studying charts and gear lists and just *try to take better photos*.

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