I don’t profess to be an expert on color rendering. You can stop reading now if you are hoping to delve into the science of how colors are captured on your camera’s sensor, differences between RGB and sRGB, monitor calibration, and the like… Much has been written about all of these topics, so I’d encourage you to seek out those technical resources if interested.
I had an “aha” moment recently when a friend of mine came to me with a request to shoot images of a fabric sample (more on the “aha” later). My friend is in the business of providing natural fur products from the shearings of
Angora goats for mohair and Alpacas. The sheerings are then woven into a 100% cotton backing and then custom die provides for the variety of products their customers desire. My friend’s challenge was having photographs on their website that looked like their actual products.
So I took my photographic project to the next level and borrowed an 18% gray card from a friend. Again, much could be written about this, but suffice it to say that I used the card to more accurately adjust the color temperature of my images when shot in sunlight and in shade with the hope of minimizing the ambiguity. The adjustments I could make based on the gray card were a big help. Instead of just going with my camera’s assessment that the “daylight” color temperature I shot in was 4650 degrees Kelvin, or guessing that it should be slightly warmer or cooler, the gray card helped me calibrate it more precisely. My end results were quite good—by the definition of looking the same on screen as the sample in my hand.
For 99.9% of my photography, the preciseness of the color temperature rendering has not been important. I’ve made adjustments and enhancements to my images when capturing, or in post production, and the results have been quite pleasing, and to my viewers, quite satisfactory. It’s near impossible to you (or me) to look at one of my sunset images and determine if the shade or orange or pink in the sky is exactly what it was if standing there…and quite frankly, it doesn’t matter that much, because I’m not trying to convey that scientific precision…I’m trying to convey a story or an emotion through the art of photography.
But with my friend’s fabric, there is no story to be told…they want to show the color of their product that will show up on your doorstep. My only question for you…is your doorstep typically in the sun or in the shade???
(photo metadata: 1/250 sec @ f/8, ISO 200, focal length 52mm)