Importance of Colour Cards


How important is a colour card while shooting still life? Isn’t it simpler to adjust colours in post-processing?

Answer by: Girish Mistry, Photographer and Dean, Shari Academy

There are many variables that affect the correct colour rendition of an image. Right from the camera and lens, to the colour temperature of the light used, while shooting the image. That means daylight, continuous light, UV coated professional strobes, or uncoated strobes. Besides this, what you view it on also affects the colours. Is it a colour corrected backlit monitor or a normal monitor that does not show the entire gamut of colours?

This is where a colour chart comes quite handy. Using one will save a lot of time, and also give you accurate results. For instance, the Macbeth ColourChecker chart has grey scale, colours that represent the industry’s colour processes such as red, green, blue, cyan, magenta, yellow, as well as skin colours, among others. When it is used with the image (the idea is to capture a photograph with the colour card close to the subject), the colour management person will allot the right numerical value of the grey and industry colour to bring out the right colour of the fabric, pigment and skin tone.

Spyder and Xrite both market these charts/passport with colour management systems. Colours like green, orange and lemon yellow are tough to print in the offset printing process. Imagine a painter who has used many variations of different colours. How will the colour manager know which particular shade of that colour was used. But if you include the Macbeth ColourChecker chart in the image, he will work with the values of the standard colours on the chart, and will reproduce the right colour for printing. Pantone has also allotted numerical values to each colour and their millions of hues.

This article originally appeared in the June 2019 issue of Better Photography.