Caught Calibrating Again!

The Calibrate tab (Ctrl+Alt+5, ^+Option+5 on a Mac) wasn't meant for you to apply color correction to your images, but to fine-tune the camera profiles that are built into Camera Raw. When updates to Camera Raw are available (at for you to load onto your computer, typically those updates include profiles for new models of digital camera.

When Adobe adds a new digital camera model to Camera Raw, they program in specific color profiles for that particular model digital camera. The controls in the Calibrate tab (see Figure 9-28) are intended to be used to fine-tune the camera profile in Camera Raw with what your own digital camera is producing.

Most photographers wouldn't go through the hassle of calibrating their digital camera to the profiles available in Camera Raw, after all, the profiles provided work very well as they are set up now. Another reason, it's a real hassle to calibrate your digital camera!

To actually recalibrate the Camera Raw built-in profiles, you would have to purchase or download a calibration target image, take a photo of it in neutral daylight balanced lighting, then compare the image converted to ProPhoto RGB working space with the same image in Camera Raw. You would then have to match the colors of the text image with the photo in Camera Raw in order to adjust the colors in the Calibrate tab — with both windows visible on your computer monitor. If you understand all that, I think you'll appreciate why most of us just use the Camera Raw built-in profiles!

Although the Calibrate controls aren't meant for applying color corrections to photos, you can still use 'em to get some really cool color effects! The photo shown in Figure 9-29 (for example) was first adjusted normally, using the controls in the Adjust and Curve tab. Then I messed with it in the Calibrate tab and added some kinky colors.

Figure 9-28: The Calibrate tab.
Colors changed with Calibrate controls Figure 9-29: Using the Calibrate controls to produce unnatural colors for special effects.
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