I looked at a lot of files while I was with the Workbook. In a typical year I would be the first person to look at 1200+ pages. Along the way I learned a lot about the way people thought their files looked like. Which brings me to the Case of The Color-blind Photographer.
The customer’s Epson proof had the photographer’s notation on it that it was “not correct, and should be gray-green”, (analogous to Wehrmacht green). Very well.
We pulled a test strip on our Epson 4800, and it was not gray-green. Not even close. We even ran an output on the Canon color laser printer. No big difference here either.
Now things were getting interesting. The photographer clearly thought their green was a blue-gray-green. A spot-check of the background colorfield showed that the magenta was 42%, with a full 100% yellow and 38% black to really warm things up in a fine slurry.
I discussed this with the Paul Semnacher, Director of Print Production. He was going to have to make a call to the advertiser and gently probe. He did. The conversation revealed the usual suspects:
- an erratic low-end printer with an idiosyncratic profile
- a monitor that wasn’t properly calibrated, and of an unknown vintage
- customer’s wishful thinking.
The first two items are nominally fixable, but the last item is the most tenacious, and one that is beyond the technical reach of any color or pre-press house. The conversation ended in a draw. We looked at each other. Finally he said “What if the photographer is color-blind?”
Whoa. Then it hit me. Paul’s elderly mother had just had cataract surgery. While she was recovering, she’d woken up on morning, gotten dressed, and noticed a bright yellow sweater on the dresser. She asked who’s sweater that was. Her daughter-in-law said that it was hers. She didn’t believe her…she’d never wear anything that bright.
Of course not. When you have cataracts, bright yellow looks like beige. Which provided a possible insight to our Photographer.
In the end, the photographer came around to the fact that 42% magenta made things very warmed. Paul wrote up the correction to the color house in Singapore to recurve the background closer to the desired color, and everyone went home happy. More or less.