When Stephen Segal approached me to put the Nikon Z6 mirrorless through its paces, I thought that the various requirements of the day to day creation of media for a hotel, spa, bar and restaurant would be the ideal testing ground.
Everything needs to happen fast, from production to publication. All the deadlines are “last week, Tuesday” and its a myriad of scenarios with various lighting conditions.
So… this is how we do it.
You should have read it in a Chappie Paper:
1 in 12 men is Colour Blind (actually, just Colour Vision Deficient) while only 1 in 200 women suffers the same fate… That is why women generally make for better retouchers.
(Did I lose you at the Chappie Paper? Tik-Tok video then…)
And for that simple reason, you will frequently see me pull out my trusty X-Rite ColorChecker Passport.
Originally, it was simply to ensure that what I shot was accurate. If a client was paying good money to get a spot colour printed on their material, then my imaging needed to match… and be exact.
These days I do it for a different reason: I’m Tired!
We all work long hours, and having an easy tool to quickly get a neutral grey, to start on, is a lifesaver! Ok… maybe that is dramatic… but it’s definitely a time saver!
When you work in a specific environment for a while, your brain adjusts and you do not see reflected colour tints and tones. What is worse is that when you start to edit, sometimes your brain recognizes the tones, and you do a bad colour balance. especially if you go straight from shoot environment to edit.
Secondly, knowing how far you can push a colour (saturate or desaturate in the most basic form of colour adjustment) really helps to tell the story of what you want to promote.
And Lastly… Black- and White Points. You might find that a particular setup or camera or lens combo gives you a slight haze, having a good understanding of where the actual white point and black point is, can give you much more neutral highlights and shadows.
I try and shoot a few reference shots on my colour chart before I start working a room or a product setup. It gives me a neutral to go back to for reference as I edit through a series.
Great as the modern digital cameras are, you often end up with a reflected colour tone. Now… this might be accurate… but it might not be the best images to sell your product, so adjust!
Although the warm lighting and earth tones of the building give a cast on linen and towels, we do not want to see a brown towel… Towels in the Hotel MUST BE WHITE! It is just one of those things… when you walk into the room, your brain tells you it is white, not grey, not brown… because it expects it to be so.
Pro Tip: Shooting RAW means when you do a colourspace adjustment (or even just a simple White Balance adjustment) you can easily retain a colour balance. It can be done in JPEG, but it’s quite a bit more effort to make it look “normal”.
Perfect colour isn’t always necessary… and neither is perfect shadows or highlights. But just like a musician knowing how to put notes together into music, knowing where “normal” is, allows you to break reality to match your narrative.