• Justin Key

Growing Pains

Updated: Apr 11

Growing pains are the constant reminder that life's not easy, also the TV show that introduced us to Leonardo DiCaprio. The disruption of progress they cause ties a negative connotation to the term though they often lead to a growth of wisdom. I'm traveling down a path guided by my own intuition and occasional dumb luck. I wish my degree had included a how-to course for landing on your feet but instead I was jettisoned into the real world with a piece of paper to shake at people.

For two years I've been battling through growing pains, and that's not counting the two years I lost after graduation trying to find my barrings. My dream is to travel the world and take pictures, but I want to share more than the destinations, I want to share my journey. Like I said before, there wasn't exactly a course for doing what I'm attempting to do. There have been a lot of learning experiences already and plenty more to come and I want to share them all with you as they do. My latest growing pain is one that's taken me a year to address. While building my website I became increasingly frustrated with the color of my images. My photographs are my product and I need them to be represented accurately, so when there is a disparity between the image in Photoshop and in a browser, that's a pretty big problem. Currently, the problem still exists but at least the solution has been found. Some research told me that my files were not being saved with the correct color profile for web usage. I was building my website using Adobe Muse and, since Adobe's Photoshop was my primary editing program, I assumed the systems would coordinate. The problem was that my images weren't being converted to the sRGB color profile that is the standard for the internet. Every single one of my images had to be converted to the sRGB profile. My solution for this was to open each image, view in the sRGB profile, adjust color to match the original, overwrite the web file, and update my page. While the adjustments helped, the colors were still off. This is when the frustrations began to set in. At the time, my work was hanging in two galleries, I was starting to figure out the hot times to post on Facebook and Instagram, and my website was seeing an influx of traffic. I would visit my gallery to assure myself the problem wasn't that bad but I hated how poorly my images were being displayed. This brought me back to the research phase. It turns out my initial solution was carried out incorrectly. My files needed to be converted to the sRGB profile but the method I had used to do so was flawed. Now, I've yet to update the color yet for reasons I'll get to so don't go looking at the website for updates just yet. The mistake in my solution came with my conversion to sRGB. Rather than viewing my images in the sRGB profile and adjusting the color I needed to convert the image to sRGB instead. In Photoshop this is done but going to Edit>Convert to profile... and choosing sRGB. If my research is correct there won't be a need for editing once the file is properly converted. There are plenty of online tutorials that you can use to help you. I watched a few on Youtube and the process was the same in each one. As I said before, the problem has not been corrected though. My research, and a post to the Adobe Muse forum, redirected my searches to monitor calibration hardware. I've long wondered why my test prints often came back dark and discolored. Most online print companies have a program they use to adjust the color of the images they are supplied to reflect what they think the customer is looking for. The high-end print companies, on the other hand, assume their customers have calibrated their monitors and the files they receive are ready to print. I wish there would have been a class, or even a single lesson, on printing in my college program. Until I started working for one of the high-end labs, I had no idea the difference between Inkjet and Lightjet printers or the different paper and laminate options or even the popular substrates and methods for displaying your work. There was definitely no mention of monitor calibrating. The first information I found terrified me, telling me the technology could run me up to $1,000. Luckily the information was dated and the technology has come a long way. Today you can get professional-grade calibration hardware for under $200. While more expensive options are available, most of the cheaper options will do the job. My website has yet to be updated because my Spyder5PRO system is still in the mail. The decision to go with the Datacolor Spyder5PRO came down to reviews. Two brands were featured in most reviews I found, one was Spyder and the other was Colormunki. Both brands offer professional quality but in the end, I chose the Spyder brand. The Spyder5PRO works on both Mac and PC, it can be used on both laptop and desktop monitors as well. The ELITE is the step above the PRO, it can calibrate projectors and included some extra features I didn't need so I saved the $50 and went with the PRO model. So the solution to my color problem is to first calibrate my computer monitor. After that, I will likely need to adjust all of my gallery images and convert them to the sRGB color profile. From there I am going to update the website and potentially make some updates. My editing has been on hold and will be until I get my system calibrated. Once I make this adjustment my color problems should be resolved and my images can be viewed properly. Now some of you are probably thinking "this kid has a lot to learn if he doesn't know about proper color control" others either quit reading or are wondering why they read about something they will probably never use. The knowledge is half of my reason for writing and sharing this. The rest is to show the bright side of growing pains, with a little sliver due to boredom from my editing holdout. I have a lot of room to improve and I will forever be trying to. As the Growing Pains theme song goes "Don't waste another minute on your cryin'. We're nowhere near the end. The best is ready to begin." Yeah, go binge watch that now!

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