Our eyes are sensitive to only three main colors: Red, green, and blue. Everything else we see is a combination of these colors.
Thus, the way that we view and print digital photos is affected by the way we perceive color, and by color spaces. So how does colour work in digital imaging / photography? Read below…
- RGB. These are the three main colors to which human eyes are sensitive. Consequently, computer monitors emit a mix of red, green, and blue light to help generate different colors that our eyes can understand. DSLR cameras use an RGB remit as well to translate colors in an image. As an example, if we combine red and blue, we end up with purple. And, if adjacent lines of red and blue are placed extremely close together and if the lines are small enough, the human eye perceives them as purple.
- CMYK. When we make a print of something, the page reflects light that is cast upon it in order to indirectly emit light. So, to add colors other than those found in the RGB spectrum, printers use cyan (a light blue), magenta (a light red), yellow, and black inks to create all other colors. Black could be created directly from mixing the CMY components, but it is cheaper and easier to use black ink, which provides the “K” of the components.
- LAB and Adobe RGB. The colors that we perceive with our eyes are known as LAB colors. However, most computer monitors and printers cannot recreate all LAB colors. Monitors work on an sRGB spectrum, and printers work on a CMYK spectrum. Both of these are much smaller than the spectrum seen by our eyes, and some colors can be recreated by sRGB and not CMYK, and vice versa. When recording photos, DSLR cameras use Adobe RGB, which allows for a wider range of colors to be captured, as the spectrum is larger than both sRGB and CMYK. However, a monitor won’t be able to display all the colors captured by the camera, as it will be working in sRGB.
From Jo Plumridge:
Photography has been a passion for most of my life, and I’m lucky enough to make my living doing something I love. I can still remember switching over from film cameras to digital, and how much new technology there was to learn about. That’s why I enjoy writing about DSLRs, and helping people come to grips with their new equipment. I’ve been lucky enough to shoot all over the world, and I enjoy passing on some of the tips and tricks that I’ve learned over the years. Most importantly, I enjoy showing people how much fun using a digital camera can be!