Color management (RawTherapee) - Starting from zero

Folks, I used to pay careful attention to this back in the stone age when I used LR and PS. In recent years I have converted to RawTherapee and GIMP. I am still on the steep upward learning curve with these two programs. (I love RT, but have very little experience with GIMP, so if you want to talk me out of it, go for it!)

Most of my printing has been grayscale images (electron micrographs). I have had a number of museum/gallery exhibits, but they always insisted on printing files I provided and I had not much control over the printing. I have done some calendars and such with my color images, but nothing too serious.

Now, I am interested in doing more printing of my color work. Can anyone suggest the resources I need to read, videos to watch–assuming I know nothing about color management, monitor calibration, profiling, soft proofing, etc. at this point? I am using a 27" BENQ wide-gamut display and WIndows 10 (want to convert Linux some day!)

Thanks for your advice, links, etc!

To get you started: You might want to have a look at @Andy_Astbury1’s videos.

He covers a wide range of topics and to mention a few: soft-proofing, monitor calibration, colour management and colour spaces. These videos aren’t necessarily RawTherapee specific, some are in general and some might lean towards PS. Andy does tend to explain the why/why not, so even the latter are worth watching.

Thanks! I love Andy’s videos, but have not had much time to watch lately. Can you suggest which one to start with? Thanks!

These should get you going:

A very good starting point is the book by Fraser, Murphy & Bunting “Real world color management” (2. ed. 2005).


Disclaimer: some of this may be oversimplified.

Color management in general is ensuring that in every step of your processing the colors are faithfully represented and dealt with. Your camera captures photons. Your computer must convert this data to a voltage to set for each pixel on your screen. The light emitted from those pixels reaches your eye (along with a lot of stray light) and your brain interprets that as a color. Similarly, your computer can send signals to your printer to ensure the right amounts of ink are deposited on the paper.
Ideally, the colors that you perceive on the “output” medium are identical to the “input” scene. In reality, this is (almost) never possible.
The biggest challenge is to overcome the differences in gamut between media. A gamut is the range of colors and light intensities that can be represented by the medium. If you go from a wider gamut to a smaller one, the gamut must be mapped somehow. There are multiple ways to do this, and none are perfect.

This is what you should be focussing on if you want to understand how (and, importantly, if) you can ensure that what you see on the scene and what you edit in your digital darkroom ends up on your output medium just how you want.

Some pointers. From camera to screen: understand camera profiling (usually done by your raw editor), understand input profile and working profile (and output profile if your destination medium is screen), monitor calibration and profiling. From computer to print: understand printer profiling (to do it yourself, you need a spectrometer) and digital soft-proofing.

Did I miss anything important?

PS I understand you ask for further resources, sorry, I’m on mobile now and cannot easily link things…