CHAPTER 12
COLOR PRINTING
The mechanics of color printing are similar to
black-and-white printing. Once you have mastered the
techniques of black-and-white printing, you will have a
solid foundation to build your knowledge and skills in
color printing. The most difficult task in color printing
is distinguishing between various and sometimes subtle
colors and selecting filters to produce a color balanced
print. That is not as difficult as it may sound. Through
time and practice, you will make excellent color prints;
however, before color printing is discussed, the
principles of color photography and how they apply to
color printing will be reviewed.
PRINCIPLES OF COLOR
PHOTOGRAPHY
Most people see in color and expect their
photographs to be in color. Because of customer
demands and the cost benefits involved, color
photography has nearly replaced black-and-white
photography in Navy imaging facilities. Few amateur
photographers understand the complexity of color
reproduction in color photography. Most of these
amateurs take their unprocessed film to a drug store or
a 1-hour photo finisher. As a Navy Photographer's Mate,
you are a professional. To produce professional quality
color photographs, you must have a basic understanding
of the color process.
Usually white is thought of as no color; however, it
is more accurate to think of it as all colors. When one of
the colors is absent, the color is not white light, but a
different color-green, for example. When magenta (a
bluish red color) is absent, the resulting color is green.
When cyan (a greenish blue color) is absent, the color
is red, and so forth.
As you read this chapter and when you color print,
you may find it helpful to think of a color as white with
something missing; that is,
blue is minus yellow;
green is minus magenta;
red is minus cyan;
yellow is minus blue;
magenta is minus green; and
cyan is minus red.
Also keep in mind that
all color is light; and
white is all colors.
COLOR IS LIGHT
The color you see is simply light. Where there is no
light, there is no color. When you "see" a colored object,
what you are actually seeing is the light reflected or
emitted from that object; therefore, the light alone is
what you see and not the actual object.
The color of light people are most familiar with is
white. Actually, white light is made up of all the colors,
although they are impossible to see directly. When you
see white light reflected from a sheet of white paper, you
are actually seeing an equal mixture of red, green, and
blue light being reflected in equal amounts. You must
realize and understand this fact before you print color.
LIGHT PRIMARIES
White light is a mixture of all the colors of light;
however, only three primary colors are actually needed
to make white light. These three primary colors are red,
green, and blue. Not only do these three light primaries
produce white light, but they produce any and all other
colors; for example, imagine a blue, a green, and a red
spotlight shining on a white screen so the spotlight
circles partly overlap. There are three places where two
of the light primaries overlap and one place where all
three light primaries overlap. In the areas where two
primaries overlap, a distinctly new color is created
12-1

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