I was working with a client recently who had been struggling with getting consistent color from his photos in Aperture. Like many other digital photography enthusiasts I’ve talk to over the years, he was mystified by color management, and had grown accustomed to trying to predict what his photos would look like when output, and then making adjustments to attempt to compensate. This is what I like to refer to as “shotgun color management”. It’s inaccurate, messy, and can be an incredibly inefficient use of time.
Getting predictable, accurate color in Aperture doesn’t have to be something to stress about. Devices such as the i1Display 2 and the Pantone huey are both known as colorimeters. They cost a few hundred dollars and include software that allows you profile to your display so that your computer is capable of displaying color accurately. Place either of these devices against your screen, run the bundled software, and it will create a custom color profile for your display that you can manage in the Color tab of the Displays System Preference. This is a good place to start with minimum investment.
For anyone outputting photos to a high-quality inkjet printer, you’ll want to look at a spectrophotometer such as the X-Rite i1Photo. This is a more powerful (and more expensive) color metering device that is capable of reading accurate color from paper and other mediums in addition to an LCD or CRT display. With a spectrophotometer, photographers can create custom color profiles for each of their inkjet papers. Combine these custom output profiles with a custom display profile and you have accurate color from top to bottom. You can use Aperture’s built-in softproofing feature — available as the “Onscreen Proofing” option under the View menu — to preview what your photos will look like when output to a printer using a custom output profile.