Exploring (color and Working) space

Color space is the range of colors available to you for editing your images. It's like the colors you used in your old paint-by-numbers set — only instead of 12 colors, you have millions! Working space is a Photoshop term used to describe which color space is assigned to an image. You'll find these two terms — working space and color space — used interchangeably in Photoshop.

CMYK (a working space for press-type printing) and grayscale (used for editing black-and-white images) are working spaces targeted toward specific purposes. CMYK is defined as a full-color representation of a printing press; the acronym CMYK defines cyan, magenta, yellow, and black inks for the printing press.

For photographers, the most important working space you use is RGB. Most of the photographer's work is geared toward printing on ink jet printers first, and going to press for magazine, book, or other types of publications (or to the Web) second. Digital photographers who incorporate a color-management workflow opt to use Adobe RGB (1998) first to edit images, and then convert to different color spaces if a particular output requires it.

The list that follows explains the differences and different uses of the working spaces available in Photoshop, while Figure 3-2 shows how using different color spaces for a photo affect how they look.

l Adobe RGB (1998): This color space is designed to match the color gamut of inkjet printers. Highly recommended for use with images to be printed on (well, yeah) inkjet printers.

i sRGB: This color space is designed for displaying photos on computer monitors, such as Web graphics and Web photos.

i Colormatch RGB: This color space is designed for a color gamut between sRGB and Adobe RGB (1998). Use for images with multiple purposes and output.

Adobe RGB (1998) sRGB Colormatch RGB

Figure 3-2: Different color spaces affect how color is rendered in an image.

As part of your overall color-management workflow, I recommend always editing your photographs in the Adobe RGB (1998) color space and saving that image as a master file. Adobe RGB (1998) provides the widest color gamut available when it's time to edit your images. For output destined for the Web or for special printing, save a copy of your master to an sRGB or CMYK version of the file for output later. Even while outputting your images in black and white, I recommend using an RGB color space for your master image.

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