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Match colour when photographing products

dg2000r 14 31
3 Jul 2013 11:59AM

I've been tasked with photographing my wife's knitted hats and bags for her online shop here , and I'm having a nightmare trying to get the colours to even vaguely match the real things. I'm fairly handy with Photoshop, so I can do colour corrections there, but I'm struggling because my original photos are so bad!

Can anyone give me any pointers on how to go about this? - What lighting works best, how should I be setting the white balance and any other camera settings that may help?

Many thanks


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llareggub 7 825 United Kingdom
3 Jul 2013 12:12PM
If you are going to be doing this regularly get a colorchecker passport (google it), it will create a profile for your image to click on in ACR, relatively simple to do and gives spot on results Smile
AlanTW 15 351
3 Jul 2013 12:59PM
I faced a similar problem photographing my wife's embroidery work. I was lucky and found that simply getting the white balance correct with a Whibal card did the trick.

thewilliam 9 6.1k
3 Jul 2013 1:05PM
Get a grey card and include it in the first shot taken in each lighting setup. Then use this to correct the colour in Lightroom.

Bear in mind that intense colours will never reproduce well if you're using sRGB colour space. You'll need the larger gamut of Adobe RGB.
AlanPerkins 12 567 England
3 Jul 2013 1:12PM
Another vote for Colorchecker Passport.
keithh Plus
14 25.4k 33 Wallis And Futuna
3 Jul 2013 1:54PM
That kind of product is best shot in a light tent, whether home made or Something along these lines. .

There's no need for expensive lighting - you could for instance get some cheap halogen desk lights for small items like yours. With a bit of practice you'll get identically lit images over and over again, week in week out.

As said - get a grey card or a color checker and take a shot of that as your first job of the day.

Shooting in sRGB won't make any discernible difference and you're converting your shots into sRGB for the web pages anyway. In fact shooting in a smaller color space can often help with matching. I shot color critical products for 20 years and apart from the fact that the products wouldn't fit in a light
tent, the procedure is the same.
Dave_Canon 11 1.4k United Kingdom
3 Jul 2013 2:02PM
I use a Colour Checker Passport (CCP). I have produced a bespoke calibration profile for the Raw conversion (the profile can be used by Elements, Photoshop and Lightroom). I also use the CCP to obtain an accurate White Balance by photographing it in the light used for the photoshoot then using the neutral grey on the capture CCP shot as the target for the WB sampling.

You can only use a calibrated profile if you are shooting in Raw. If you are using JPEG, check which Style you are using and the choice will make a lot of difference to the colour. If shooting Raw, you also need to check the Camera Calibration tab in ACR, Elements or LR to see which style has been selected.

Generally I would say that the most important issue is to ensure that you are using the correct style and that you measure and accurately set the WB. While full calibration will certainly improve colour accuracy, I suspect few photographers go this far.

dg2000r 14 31
3 Jul 2013 2:22PM
Thanks for the advice guys - that's given me a good few things to try out Smile
lemmy 10 2.7k United Kingdom
3 Jul 2013 2:33PM
The pix on the page look very good to me. Remember that you can do what you like to get colours accurate on your monitors(s) but they will often look quite different on someone else's. I have a calibrated work flow so any faults would tend to shown up but as I say, they look good. You are never going to get accurate colour matching as such when you are looking at the real hats via reflected light and the images of them via transmitted light. Some people turn their monitors right up for 'wow' effect. Some prefer them dim to rest their eyes.

One query, the mouse roll-over affects the tones of the hats and bags. Which one is intended to be accurate, the somewhat pastel one shown normally or the darker, more pleasing one when the mouse is over the hat/ bag?
dg2000r 14 31
3 Jul 2013 2:40PM
Thanks Lemmy - Yes, the mouse rollover thing doesn't help. The true image is the rolled-over one, so the 'theme' that the shop uses automatically lightens them up for the pre-rollover state. As soon as I figure out how to do it I'll be getting rid of that!
Paul Morgan 16 19.1k 6 England
3 Jul 2013 7:04PM

Quote:As said - get a grey card or a color checker and take a shot of that as your first job of the day

Or pic up a standard macbeth card(about 10) and download the free Adobe DNG camera profile Editor.
dg2000r 14 31
19 Feb 2014 1:32PM
I just wanted to revisit this page to say thanks for all of the advice when I originally posted the question. Since then I've got a colour card and light tent and done a good bit of testing/playing with RAW, which I hadn't really used before. As a result our little shop now has some product pictures that I'm actually proud of, that actually look like the real things! They now look like this instead of this

Thanks ephotozine!!

lemmy 10 2.7k United Kingdom
19 Feb 2014 2:27PM
That looks really good now.What a difference!

Only one thing I'd like to see, if the thumbnails actually included the whole enlarged pic instead of a slight crop of it. It would just look a little slicker. Not crucial, though.
Jestertheclown 9 7.7k 252 England
19 Feb 2014 2:38PM
Hi David,
Quite a difference then.
I downloaded one of the images from your website and opened it in CS6 and I see that it's saved in untagged RGB. I converted it to sRGB, since it's to be displayed on the web and applied an 'S' curve, which lifted it quite a bit.
I'm not sure whether or not you'd consider it to be an improvement and I don't know how well the colours now resemble the real thing but if you're interested I'll gladly post it on here or send it to you somehow.
Hope this helps.
dg2000r 14 31
20 Feb 2014 9:24AM
Thanks Bren - I'd definitely be interested in seeing that. I must admit RGB, sRGB, Adobe RGB etc is still all a mystery to me - that's something I need to do some reading up on! I'll send you an email address now.

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