One of the least understood aspects of photography is color correction. Even experienced photographers sometimes get it wrong or choose not to pay attention to when shooting in difficult or less than perfect lighting conditions. However color correction is one of the main aspects of getting the perfect color for image and something that pro photographers,who actually need to print their images, consider as a part of the whole workflow.

Now, there are a number of different methods to color correct your images, most of them require you to shoot with some type of white balance card and then use Lightroom or Aperture or some other post processing software to implement the final touches. At times, especially when working under mixed lighting conditions that can be a difficult thing to manage. But there is an even easier and far more accurate method. It involves using the X-Rite ColorChecker Passport.

The solution

The X-Rite ColorChecker Passport is a very accurate tool which allows you to get all your colors correct in-camera and with very limited post processing afterwards. One of the main issues faced by photographers when working in difficult lighting conditions is that they are unable to get the colors true to what they saw with their eyes. If they cannot get the colors right in camera, there is no way they can reproduce the color accurately during post-processing as well as when the images are printed. This is notwithstanding the fact that they have a perfectly calibrated monitor as well as a perfectly calibrated printer.

This is where the X-Rite ColorChecker Passport works so well. Basically, it creates a reference for your post-processing software to use for color correcting your images. It allows you to create a custom profile in Lightroom when you are post-processing your images and that way you can get the colors right for your images. It takes just a few clicks. As a matter of fact X-Rite ColorChecker Passport is designed so that it works flawlessly with Adobe Lightroom. You can batch process all your images from the same shoot in an instant, provided the light did not change during the session and you did not make any adjustments either.

How to use the X-Rite ColorChecker Passport

Using the X-Rite ColorChecker Passport is very easy. It is a small set of cards which looks like a strip of colors. Inside there is an 18% grey card and some other white balance color patches. Just like you would normally use a neutral grey card, you first need to take an image of the color patches before going ahead to take the remaining images. If the light changes during the shoot or you make any amendments to your settings you will need to redo the calibration shot before continuing with the rest of the shoot.

To make a test shot ask the model or your assistant to hold the ColorChecker Passport up at the same height as the majority of the shots’ focus point. Let’s say you are going to shoot portraits, ask your assistant to hold the ColorChecker Passport up against the model’s face and then take a test shot. Continue with the rest of the session normally.

The final task is the creation of the custom color profile in Lightroom and then the final calibration of the images. Before going ahead though,you will need to install the Lightroom plugin that the ColorChecker Passport comes with.

Once you have completed shooting, import all your images to Lightroom. But before making any adjustments create a custom color profile for the session. To do that follow these steps –

  1. Having imported the calibration shot into Photoshop the next step is to click ‘File’, next click ‘Export with Preset’ and then ‘ColorChecker Passport’.
  2. This will pop open a window that will allow you to create a custom color profile name. Enter any name that you feel like and click ok. You could enter the location where the images are shot. Or as I prefer doing it, enter the location and date like this ‘locationname_date’. Click ok.
  3. Now Lightroom will create a custom color profile from the test shot. It will look at the many colors on the strip and calculate the correct color profile.
  4. Once the profile is created restart Lightroom (Lightroom will prompt you to do so).
  5. Open the images that you need to set custom color profile with and select the custom color profile. To do that follow these steps – go to camera calibration > click on profile > select the custom color profile name you created from the list and click sync. Lightroom will now sync all the images that you selected with the custom color profile.

This workflow is probably the easiest and the most effective of all methods to ensure that you have a correct color calibration of the images from a shoot. This beats every other color correction tool because A it is faster, B it is accurate and C it saves you from sitting in front of the computer for several hours. Speaking of which has experienced post-processing professionals who can make any post-processing work seem a breeze. Try our services for a quality post-processing workflow.

Rajib Mukherjee

Rajib Mukherjee

Rajib’s love for the road is second only to his love for photography. Wanderlust at heart and a shutterbug who loves to document his travels via his lenses; his two passions compliment each other perfectly. He has been writing for over 6 years now, which unsurprisingly, revolve mostly around his two favourite pursuits.
Rajib Mukherjee