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How to Change Color Space in Photoshop

Published: 25/07/2023

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When you want to export your real estate photos, the color management in Photoshop can be confusing due to the myriad of choices. Knowing how to change color space in Photoshop can help you output images in a color space supported by the printer or devices you intend to use.

How to Change Color Space

After editing your real estate photos in Photoshop, you might want to print them, upload them online, or import them into another application for further editing. Knowing how to change color space in Photoshop will help you change the color space of your photos depending on the intended use.

Final look on how to change color space in Photoshop

A color space is an accurate representation of the complete range of colors. It is like a container with various colors, and the entire range of colors becomes a color gamut. Depending on the device, any color outside this range will not be visible.

For instance, the human eye has a certain gamut, a section of the electromagnetic spectrum known as visible light. In the same way, different devices have different color gamuts they can either print or display. Fortunately, it's possible to change it using color settings.

Open the Color Settings Dialogue Box

You can see the image's color space at the bottom of the workspace. If the color space is not specified, it will display untagged. Open the Photoshop color settings to change the color space.

The Color Settings in Photoshop
  1. Click on Edit and then choose color settings near the bottom of the menu or use the keyboard shortcut keys Shift + Command + K if you are using a Mac or Shift + Ctrl + if using a Windows PC.
  2. You will see the Settings, Working Spaces panel, and the Color Management Policies panel on the left of the dialog box.

Although the Working Spaces and Color Management Policies have gray borders separating them in the visual display, they are inextricably linked in practical operation. The Working Spaces primarily means the color spaces associated with the various image modes such as:

RGB Image Mode

The RGB typically stands for red, green, and blue. It means any document in this mode would have red, green, and blue channels brought together to make the image color that you can see. In this color model, colors are created by adding different intensities of red, green, and blue light together. 

When all three colors are combined at their maximum intensities, they create white light. By adjusting the intensity of each color, various colors can be produced. By default, Photoshop associates the RGB image mode with the sRGB color space. The sRGB might have some other numbers in terms of the IEC code and version.

The Color Settings dialogue box

CMYK Image Mode

The CMYK typically stands for cyan, magenta, yellow, and black. Unlike the RGB color model, CMYK is a subtractive color model, which creates colors by subtracting light from white. In the practical application of this color model, a separate black channel represented by Key or simply K, is used to improve color depth and save on the amount of ink used.

Photoshop will automatically associate this model to the U.S Web Coated (SWOP) v2 color space. This mode suits prepress document editing when preparing to print the output on a multiple drum offset press printer.

Usually, these printers use cyan, magenta, yellow, and black inks on four drums to create images on sheets of paper that are pressed as the drums rotate around. Generally, you can relate this mode to the CMYK color space.

CMYK image mode

Grayscale Mode and Spot Color Mode

In Grayscale Mode, an image is represented using only shades of gray, ranging from pure black to pure white. It contains no color information, and each pixel is assigned a brightness value from 0 to 255, representing a grayscale intensity.  Grayscale mode is commonly used for black and white photography

The Spot mode, also known as Spot Color Separation or Spot Channel, is used for printing special inks and colors that are beyond the typical CMYK colors. In this mode, you can add additional channels to the image, each representing a separate ink or color.

Spot colors are often used in print jobs that require precise color matching, such as real estate  logos and colors. Photoshop color settings associate the grayscale and spot color mode to Dot Gain 20% color space by default. In most cases, you will not need to change the default settings of these modes.

Grayscale Mode and Spot Color mode

Set the RGB Image Mode

Although Adobe Photoshop comes with sRGB color space as the default setting for RGB image mode, there are several color spaces to choose from. When you click on the combo box, you will see some color space options separated by a gray border. 

In most cases, the color spaces below this border are associated with video, so you will only be using the top ones. Click the arrow in the RGB drop-down combo box to choose one of the following color spaces. Know more about the difference between RGB and sRGB.

sRGB Color Space

The sRGB color space is the oldest in Photoshop and is associated with the first VGA monitors and photographic printers. It's the smallest color space in Photoshop in terms of richer color shades.

It means the sRGB color space will have less color information than the other color spaces. The small nature of sRGB makes it the most supported color space as many devices can faithfully display or print it.

Also, sRGB is the color space supported by many web browsers. If you plan to upload your photos online, or display them on a wide range of devices such as phones, use the sRGB color space.

sRGB Color Space

Adobe RGB 1998

The Adobe RGB 1998 is a newer color space than sRGB and allows displaying or printing a wider range of colors. Considering that most modern printers support this color space, it is the best option to save your work for print.

Adobe RGB 1998

ProPhoto RGB Color Space

The ProPhoto RGB is the largest color space in Photoshop, supporting a wide range of tonality that gives a wide range of colors. Typically, many believe that no printers can output or display devices that can display the ProPhoto RGB color space.

Considering that a ProPhoto color space has more color information than other color spaces, it's the best option to use when you plan to export your image and edit it in another editing software such as Lightroom.

ProPhoto RGB Color Space

Save the Settings

After deciding the best color space to use depending on how you intend to use your real estate photos, you need to save the settings for easier loading.

  1. Click the Save button on the Color Settings dialog box
  2. Enter the name of your color settings
  3. Click on the Save button
  4. In the Color Settings Comment dialog box that will pop up, enter a description of your settings for easier remembrance
Save the settings

Relationship Between Color Profile and Color Space

Although color profile and color space are related concepts that deal with how colors are represented and displayed, they are different. A color space is a specific three-dimensional model that defines the range of colors that can be displayed, captured, or printed in an image. It acts as a reference standard for representing colors. 

On the other hand, a color profile is a data file that describes the color characteristics of a specific device or color space. It contains information about the different color space gamuts and color-related properties. 

Color profiles are used to ensure consistent and accurate color reproduction across different devices and media. When an image is created or captured in a specific color space, it can be embedded with a color profile that describes the color characteristics of that color space. 

How to Change Color Spaces in Lightroom

Although Photoshop and Lightroom are versatile and contain the commonly used color spaces, they differ in how you can change the color space. Unlike Photoshop, Lightroom comes with a default color space that varies with the module you are in. 

For instance, Lightroom uses the ProPhoto color space when you are in the Develop Module and Adobe RGB when you switch to other modules, such as the Library Module. That means, by default, you will use ProPhoto when you are editing the photos in Lightroom and Adobe RGB when you are organizing. 

However, you can still change the color space by choosing the destination space when exporting the photos using the following steps.

  1. Select the image you want to export in the Lightroom interface and then click on the Export button located on the left-hand side of the user interface.
  2. In the pop-up window that opens, navigate to File Settings, hit on the dropdown menu, and then choose the color space you want 
  3. After confirming the other Export settings, click on the Export button. This will output your image in the color space you have selected.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Color Space Important When Shooting RAW?

No, color space doesn't matter when shooting RAW. Typically, you will have an option of setting the color space by selecting the destination space in the RAW converter. However, you will need to consider your color space when outputting your RAW images as JPEG from the camera.

Can the GPU Affect the Color of the Monitor?

Yes, the GPU (graphics processing unit) can affect the monitor's output. For instance, a low-quality GPU will offer low color-depth, low-resolution, few color formats, and few color spaces. However, the color output of a monitor is primarily influenced by its own internal settings, the monitor's hardware capabilities, and the color profile used by the operating system and image editing software. 

Does Changing the Color Space Improve Image Quality?

Changing the color space does not directly improve image quality. Instead, it affects how colors are represented and displayed. Choosing the appropriate color space ensures that the image's colors are accurately rendered on different devices and platforms. Note that converting back and forth between color spaces can lead to some loss of color information.

Final Thoughts

After doing edits and applying special effects to your real estate photos, the quality of the print or web rendering depends on whether you know how to change color space in Photoshop. For mobile devices and online uploads, use sRGB and for further edits in another application, use ProPhoto RGB.


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