You all know (or should know) that light is the most important thing when it comes to photography. When it comes right down to it, without light there would be no photography. When we talk about light though, we talk about it not only as a whole, but we talk about the different aspects of it as well. We talk about the quality. Is it soft, hard, wrapping, etc. We talk about the direction. Is it a loupe pattern, is it a butterfly pattern etc. We also talk about the color of it. Are we talking golden sunset light, are we talking sickly green light from florescent lights, are we talking the warm glow of tungsten light… The descriptions go on and on. The important thing is that we are aware of the different light colors and that we adjust our images accordingly. That’s where the Passport Color Checker from X-Rite makes life a whole lot easier.
The Passport Color Checker is a two part system. It is a Color target (as you see above) and it is also a piece of (included) software that works either as a stand alone color corrector, or works as a Lightroom plugin. The latter is how I use it, and it makes for a seamless, easy to use, must have addition to my workflow. The way it works is you have your subject hold the color checker target in front of themselves (as you see above). You then take a shot of the target (try to make sure that the target is at least 10% of your image) while your subject is holding it in the lighting that you will be using for the shoot. Once you import this target image into Lightroom, you then go to your export tab for the image (located at the bottom left of the screen when in Library view). Instead of exporting to a hard disk, you choose X-Rite Presets as shown below.
When you click “Export” after choosing the X-Rite Option the image will be exported into the X-Rite Presets and a color profile will be created for that image. When the plugin is finished creating the profile it will tell you that Lightroom has to be relaunched for the new profile to be shown. Once you relaunch Lightroom the new profile can be found under Camera Calibration-Profile in the Develop module of Lightroom as shown below.
The really nice thing about having this adjustment in Lightroom is that you can select multiple images and change them all to that color profile at once! If you shot the same lighting for 50 shots in the studio, you don’t have to color correct each individual one! This is a HUGE time saver! Don’t shoot in a studio you say? Don’t worry, as long as the lighting is the same, it doesn’t matter if you’re in a studio or not. The Color Checker is for you!
I’m sure that some of you are saying, yeah that’s all well and good, but I don’t shoot a whole lot of people. I do mostly landscapes. The Color Checker has you covered on that too. There is an optional landscape white balance square that you can click on in the software that adjusts the color warmer or cooler just by clicking different squares.
The Bottom Line
The Passport Color Checker has become an integral part of my photographic workflow. It insures accurate, reproducible colors every single time. For the price, you can’t afford to not have one in your bag!