"Color Confidence" by Tim Grey
Review Date: January 11th 2005
So you've got the latest digital camera, the biggest monitor and the most cutting-edge printer, but your prints still have an awful green cast that makes the people in them look seasick? Then you need to read "Color Confidence" by Tim Grey (published by Sybex), a book that aims to demystify the often misunderstood topic of colour management and make your prints look life-like. The book is aimed at any photographer who is fed-up of wasting valuable time and money on inaccurate prints and who would rather be out shooting pictures instead. So is Color Confidence the answer to all your colour nightmares - can it really make that green print match reality? Read my short review to find out.
The recommended retail price of "Color Confidence" in the UK is £29.99 and in the US it is $44.99.
"Color Confidence" is divided into 8 chapters. In the first two, Foundations and Photoshop Setup, Grey starts at the beginning by explaining the theory behind colour and how to setup Photoshop correctly from a colour management point of view. In chapters 3-5, Display, Scanning and Digital Capture, the book considers each of the devices that are fundamental to the colour workflow, providing detailed instructions on what the various settings are and how you should configure them. Chapter 6, Optimization, teaches you how to evaluate an image onscreen and how best to correct it. Chapter 7, Output, is what the book has been building up to, namely how to create accurate prints. The final chapter, Workflow, pulls all of the info in the rest of the book into a step-by-step process. Color Confidence is 254 pages long and is produced with full-colour illustrations throughout.
The book has a linear structure, in that you should really read it through from start to finish, making adjustments to your software and printer settings as you go and deciding which options you should choose. Tim Grey takes an exhaustive approach by explaining what everything does, even if he believes that only one option is really viable. When explaining colour spaces in Photoshop, for example, Grey strongly suggests that Adobe RGB is the best option for most photographers, but he still takes the time to clearly explain the advantages and disadvantages of the other colour spaces. The book also uses real-life products to help illustrate Grey's points, as in one of the sub-sections of the Scanner chapter, where step-by-step instructions for the more popular profile makers are included. This does mean that some sections may not apply directly to you, but on the other hand if you do own the products, Grey's instructions will prove invaluable.
"Color Confidence" is all about ensuring accurate colour, and Grey assumes that you are ready to make a financial investment to achieve that aim. The book assumes that you use Adobe Photoshop as your image-editor, and all of the relevant examples are based on Adobe's industry-leading application. Furthermore, Grey also assumes that you will be prepared to buy a monitor calibration device to correct your monitor's colours, printer profiles for your printer and so on. This isn't because he has a vested interest in these products, but rather because he believes that they are entirely necessary. As with other areas of the book, Grey does present several alternative approaches to the same problem, explaining the advantages and disadvantages of each one in relation to its overall cost. In the Printer Profiles section, for example, Grey looks at everything from free generic profiles, to inexpensive canned profiles, then more expensive custom profiles.
Overall "Color Confidence" is an extremely well-written, exhaustive guide to everything that you could ever want to know (and a lot more besides) about colour management. What could be a complicated, densely written book is turned into an easy-to-follow one that is clearly based on years of hard-won experience.
(out of 5 stars)
Color Confidence is a book that every serious digital photographer should have in their library. If you are all interested in producing prints that accurately represent what you saw when you originally took the picture, then this book is for you. Grey addresses the entire color workflow in an easy-to-understand way that ultimately produces results, saving you time and money. £20 / $30 is a small price to pay in my opinion when you consider just how expensive printer paper and consumables are. So stop trying to correct that green-tinted print right now and order a copy of Color Confidence instead!