Digital Help
Q&A For Digital Photography

Digital Help is designed to aid you in getting the most from your digital photography, printing, scanning, and image creation. Each month, David Brooks provides solutions to problems you might encounter with matters such as color calibration and management, digital printer and scanner settings, and working with digital photographic images with many different kinds of cameras and software. All questions sent to him will be answered with the most appropriate information he can access and provide. However, not all questions and answers will appear in this department. Readers can send questions to David Brooks addressed to Shutterbug magazine, through the Shutterbug website (, directly via
e-mail to: or or by US Mail to: David Brooks, PO Box 2830, Lompoc, CA 93438.
--George Schaub

Readers Contribute To Help With Digital Photography For The Colorblind
Re: Digital Color Photography For The Colorblind
I can sympathize with Mr. Duffy's dilemma (November 2005 issue) as I am also of the 8 percent who are colorblind. There is a simple answer to our problem and you have succinctly described it in your response to Jim Plogger who submitted the question titled "A Complete, Accurate Workflow Is Essential To Obtain The Best Printer Performance," also in the November issue. The answer is called a Color Management System (CMS).
There are two approaches to the color-managed workflow, software only or software and hardware. I have used both with excellent results, but have settled on the software and hardware method. For the colorblind, nothing beats a colorimeter or spectrometer.
What follows is my workflow. It functions well and most important of all, I have confidence in the system and the results.
My computer setup consists of a generic 1.8GHz P4 computer with an nVidia GeForce video card driving a Sharp 17" LCD monitor. My printer is an HP Designjet 120 with the HP #85 inkset. I use Photoshop as my CMS. My monitor is calibrated using a ColorVision Spyder2, the HP Designjet printer is self-calibrating, and I use the ColorVision SpectroPro to create custom ICC profiles.
It works like this: Calibrate the monitor using Spyder. Calibrate the Designjet printer for each paper I will be using. Create an ICC profile using SpectroPro for each calibrated paper. Then print, following the procedures you stated in your response to Mr. Plogger.
For me, the ColorMouse colorimeter from Color Savvy is the ideal toy. With the ColorMouse I can measure individual test patches and tweak my custom ICC profiles or the profiles supplied by the paper manufacturers.
Color Savvy provides a free software development kit and I was able to write my own Visual Basic patch reading program. Now I can impress my wife and say, "Your scarf is Red 177, Green 174, Blue 155." I have no idea what the color is named, but I sure do know its component parts.
It is very important to follow the "rules" and not make ad hoc corrections on a random artistic basis. I have complete confidence in my workflow and I consistently get excellent color. Color the other 92 percent perceive as correct.
I have been using the HP and ColorVision software/hardware system for three years. Since then, other vendors have come out with comparable or better systems. Any of the systems that include a colorimeter are a godsend to the colorblind.
Carl Hennig

Thank you for your contribution regarding a way to work if you are colorblind. I would have to agree entirely with your workflow. Yours has not been the only response to the "colorblind" item in my column. We received the following from another reader, Steve Rosenblum:
"Regarding the letter from Kevin Duffy to you in the November 2005 issue of Shutterbug about how to correct color photos if you are colorblind: He may want to check out Professional Photoshop: The Classic Guide to Color Correction by Dan Margulis (available from at this link: 1888-3383065?v=glance&n=283155&s=books&v=glance).
Margulis has long been a proponent of color correction `by the numbers.' He is kind of a contrarian and has never been a big fan of calibration. I have always used a calibrated workflow myself, but I watched Margulis correct some photos at a workshop with the color turned off on the monitor and he was able to produce some great-looking prints by sampling and adjusting RGB and CMYK numbers."

Colorblind: A Reader's Counterpoint
I'm responding to a query in your November column from Kevin Duffy, who happens, as am I, to be colorblind. While I'm sure I miss much in the world of art and photography, I believe I have a compensating, enhanced appreciation for black and white photography.
There is more than enough to learn about digital black and white to challenge me for the rest of my life. Coincidentally, the November issue also has a Monte Zucker article (page 18) demonstrating how powerful a portrait can be in monochrome. I can hardly wait to try some of his ideas on my portraits this week.
Whether I'm shooting film or digital, I have two mental compartments. Some shots are going to be fine in color; a Hawaiian sunset is still stunning, even if some colors are 100ÞK off from the "original." Kids' birthday parties--concentrate on the action and let the computer worry about the color. But the shots I'm thinking of spending hours with, I previsualize in monochrome.
I've been printing with an Epson 1200 using Cone's Piezography materials ( and have produced beautiful monochrome prints at 13x17". Others prefer competing products from MediaStreet and others. Printers and inks for monochrome are becoming cheaper and the learning curves easier. I've even made excellent monochrome prints on my Epson 2200 using the black ink only.
I cannot recommend too highly the Yahoo! discussion group that deals exclusively with digital black and white printing (http:// The members there are unfailingly courteous and helpful to newbies.
David, keep up the good work.
Bill Levine
Wichita, KS