Section 1.2. Color Management Today

1.1. A Brief History of Color Management

While we can't pinpoint when color management started, we can imagine that artists have always wanted some way of creating consistent color results. Humankind has been managing color for thousands of years, but not in the technological way we think of it today.

Early artists colored cave paintings and pottery using a wide variety of pigments from nature. Over the course of history, those pigments evolved from ground earth and clay to the many pigments and dyes that we use today. I'm sure that even these early artists strived to use the right colors to express themselves. Like today's artists, they probably found it important to mix colors that would match what they envisioned and to be able to match an existing color in the middle of a project. Hence color management was born. However, I'm sure that they didn't call their artistic efforts "color management" and that they had no idea of where it would go.

Let's fast-forward a bit from the cave-painting days. Sir Isaac Newton did the first scientific study of color in the 1600s, observing that light passed through a prism split into various colors. Based on this observation, he theorized that white light actually contained all colors. He developed the Newton color circle, placing the additive primary colors of light (red, green, and blue) around the circumference of a wheel and thus creating a tool that could predict the results of mixing certain colors or setting them next to each other.

In the early 1800s, a scientist and physician named Thomas Young proposed that human color perception depended on sensors in the human eye that were sensitive to the three additive colors: red, green, and blue. The brain combined the color information to make one coherent color image (similar, in some ways, to the red, green, and blue sensors in today's digital cameras).

This conceptualization of human color perception was first put to photographic use in the late 1800s, attributed to the physicist James Maxwell. Maxwell created the first color photograph by shooting three images, each with a different primary color filter over black-and-white film. When these images were projected with the same three filters and aligned, they formed a color photograph.

In 1931, the Commission Internationale de I'Eclairage (CIE, or International Commission on Illumination in English) took up the task of standardizing the mathematical definition of color. They determined that spectral colors could be mapped using two coordinates (x and y) for chromaticity, resulting in a horseshoe-shaped curve. This is still the primary model in use today to explain the range of perceptual color.

Obviously, quantifying and predicting color has been the subject of human inquiry for a while. Today's concern over color management is just the continuation of that quest.

Practical Color Management. Eddie Tapp on Digital Photography
Practical Color Management: Eddie Tapp on Digital Photography
ISBN: 0596527683
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2006
Pages: 61

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