Profiles in Photoshop and Lightroom


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Dec 13, 2006
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I generally use LR to work with my RAW files. For pictures needing work in PS, they are usually sent directly to CS4 from LR. When I open a picture directly in PS, after going through Camera Raw I get the "Embedded Profile Mismatch" warning. In PS my profile is set to my monitor calibration profile. The camera is set to sRGB. Is this where the mismatch is coming from? In PS (under Color Settings) I have the drop-down Settings menu set for Monitor Color. I thought that it would be more accurate if the programs were displaying what the monitor is told to display.

I'm completely clueless about color management. I did a search (mostly print problems and I'm not printing at home). Much goes over my head. I guess what I'd like to know is this: Should the Color Settings in PS be set for Monitor Color (where it does not allow me to preserve embedded profiles) or North America General Purpose 2 (which allows me a choice between preserving embedded profile and converting to the working space)? From there should I convert or preserve?

So far I haven't noticed any problems in the color, but I haven't gotten any prints yet since I've been using the combination of LR and CS4.
Simple Answer: North American GP2

Complicated Answer:
Nonononono you got that wrong. All that needs to be checked to display colour correctly is that when you bring the drop down list for RGB Working Spaces, "Monitor RGB" is called the correct thing. In most cases this will be blank "Monitor RGB - " or have sRGB in the name "Monitor RGB - sRGB", and unless you have a fancy screen this is right. If you have a calibrated screen it should take the calibration value: "Monitor RGB - NEC2690WUXi 2.2 D65 2009-04-11" in my case.

The differences are the many types of colour profiles. The camera has an input profile. This is actually ACR4.4 or Adobe Standard or whatever you set it to in the Lightroom Calibration tab. The image converted from the camera with this input profile is converted to the Lightroom working profile called MelissaRGB which is a profile useless for us but great mathematically for the backend work in Lightroom. Now the picture goes three possible ways:

The Lighroom working profile is converted to the monitor profile before outputted to the screen (automagically).
The Lighroom working profile is converted to either sRGB, AdobeRGB or ProPhoto when you save the file to a JPEG or TIFF, or export to another program.
The Lighroom working profile is converted to the printer profile either by Lightroom itself or the printer driver before printing.

Ok so you have your Input profiles (cameras / scanners), your working profiles (what the file is saved as like sRGB or what a program uses to edit it like MelissaRGB), and your output profile (Monitor or Printer profile).

For minimum chance of error in the "lossy" process of colour management you would do well to set Lightroom to export into sRGB, and edit in external applications in sRGB. Same in Photoshop, the backend takes care of the monitor conversion but the working profile should be the one you use most sRGB usually.

Also note that just because Photoshop is set to sRGB doesn't mean it's limited. In fact it's good since it will warn you when you're about to work with a non-standard profile. If for some reason you NEED a larger space (you're prepping an oversaturated green photo for printing at a nice expensive pro lab or an 8 colour printer), then you can still load a AdobeRGB file into photoshop and click use embedded profile.

Also the reason you haven't noticed any problem in colour is that most likely your monitor profile is sRGB anyway. If you had a wide gamut screen like the NEC 2690WUXi or the Dell 2008WFP, then the files you save would look totally screwed in any application that doesn't understand colour profiles like a web browser.
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Also the reason you haven't noticed any problem in colour is that most likely your monitor profile is sRGB anyway.

Is this the profile called sRGB IEC61966-2.1? Or do you just mean that it is generally sRGB (but could be some variation of sRGB, depending on the actual profile)?

If you have a calibrated screen it should take the calibration value: "Monitor RGB - NEC2690WUXi 2.2 D65 2009-04-11" in my case.

Mine is called Spyder2Express.

How should this be set so that I don't have to tell it every time which profile to use? Basically, I'm getting annoyed that I have to keep clicking to have it convert to the working space. I thought that I could integrate the two programs so that they know what to do without me telling PS every time I want to open a file that is not JPG.

Here is what my settings are now:

As long as the section "Working Spaces" has my monitor profile selected from the menu, the options under "Color Management Policies" are OFF. This is what I don't want (if I don't want to choose a profile every time I open a file). Also, I don't know if it matters but you mentioned ACR3.6. In LR I apply my camera profile to my pictures on import because I don't like how LR displays them otherwise (too much editing is needed if I don't do that).

My confusion regarding all of these profiles is what led me to choose my monitor profile. I probably just made it worse messing with stuff :blushing:. I apologize for my ignorance, but no matter how hard I try, I can't get my head around this concept.
Ahhh ok. We are both talking about the same sRGB. Since it is an international standard it has an IEC number attached to it. That should be your RGB Working Space! And it doesn't matter which profile you apply in Lightroom as long as it looks right to you!

Currently the way you have set it up guarantees you will have hassles opening every file so let met explain the dialogue to you.
- Currently you can see Monitor RGB - Spyder2express. Ignoring that it's selected as the RGB working space for the moment, the fact that it says Spyder2express after it means that Photoshop has figured out that your screen has a colour profile called Spyder2express associated with it (from a calibration unit right?) and has loaded that into photoshop. This doesn't need to be selected, it just needs to exist.
- Working Spaces are the default profiles loaded in photoshop to edit files. They are what photoshop expects when you open any picture be it RGB CMYK or Greyscale. They define how red the colour RGB(255,0,0) is in the file itself, and not how red it should make that appear on the monitor (photoshop handles the monitor automatically). If you set Monitor RGB to one of these you are going to have problems since no image should ever have MonitorRGB as it's profile. Remember Photoshop will take care of the monitor display by itself regardless of what the image space is. Set the RGB space to "sRGB IEC61966-2.1" This is the standard colour space for all applications that don't understand colour management, and all your images should ALWAYS be saved in this format so you may as well work in it. (exceptions mentioned below).
- Colour Management Policies should never be off! These define the behaviour of photoshop when it loads an image. It should either be "convert to working profile" , which is what I recommend since the working profile will be sRGB. So right from the start photoshop will make sure that the file is in a format that is a standard. Or if you know what you are doing you can select "preserve embedded profile" in which case it will load the working space out of the JPEG file assuming it is in there to begin with. I'll talk about this below. Regardless of which you pick, leave Ask When Opening ticked just so you have the option anyway.

What this does:
- Photoshop clearly knows your screen profile, ignore it.
- Photoshop uses sRGB as it's working space.
- Photoshop checks each file you open to see if it is in the correct working space. If the file is in sRGB then all things are good, and it will open. If the file is not in sRGB (like AdobeRGB or ProPhoto) then it will bring up a dialogue asking if you wish to convert to working profile (default) which should be done if the final destination for photos is anything other than a very very high-end printer. Or if you want to preserve embedded profiles.

Additionally, to reduce as many headaches as possible, in Lightroom you can set it to export in sRGB when editing in Photoshop which I also recommend.

Ok two exceptions to this rule:
1. If you take a screenshot in windows. It is best to create a new file and click Edit -> Assign Profile and assign the monitor profile. The source of the screenshot is your screen so the profile should be that too. This is the only time your monitor profile should ever be your working profile, and the first step after pasting should be clicking Edit -> Convert to Profile, and set it to sRGB.

2. Some very high end printers such as those with CMYKRGBlBk colours or high end pro printing shops (not your Walmart variety) can print out colours that are richer than the sRGB space provides. In this case if you are after the absolute cream (and you have a picture that is rich enough to make it worth while of which I have seen VERY few) then you should probably export from Lightroom in AdobeRGB (which is the format the printing company will often require but they will tell you this). Then in Photoshop select preserve embedded profile in the dialogue which pops up when opening. This changes the working profile to the larger AdobeRGB (only for this image).
Mind you even an image that's as saturated and colourful as still looks perfectly good in sRGB (because it currently is).

I hope that explains everything a bit better.
Thanks so much! That really does help. I've got LR set to sRGB, my camera set to sRGB, but wasn't sure how to fit PS into all that. I knew I was missing something with your previous explanation, which is why I thought it would be easier to understand what I wanted to do if I posted a screenshot of the options I have. I knew that color management should be on but with the options I had selected, the options were all grayed out (unselectable) except to turn it off, leaving me to decide every time I opened a file.

This is what I changed it to:

I changed the Working Space profile from Spyder2Express to the one shown (because they are both sRGB, but the monitor profile just tells the monitor how to display the R G and B, if I understand correctly; because both are sRGB color space). I suppose this just tells PS that I want to use sRGB and not Adobe RGB, ProPhoto, etc.

I guess I'll worry about the more complicated aspects of color management if I ever have anything worthy of printing on those high end printers (which won't be any time in the near future)! Mainly I just want to be sure that what I see on my monitor is going to be more or less what I will get when I send my files to be printed (at Snapfish and MPIX).

So again, thanks. I knew if anyone could answer my question, you could.
Yep close. The monitor space may be sRGB but if it was calibrated with the Spyder2 there will be very slight differences relating to the screen calibration settings.

This tells Photoshop you want to use sRGB per default. It will still ask you what to do when opening a different file, and there's nothing stopping you from hitting the convert to profile button at any time.

Incidentally the settings you have selected are the "North American Web/Internet" preset in Photoshop :)

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