Asking about Paint is problematic
Chibi Moku - Architectural Cinema - Photo - 360
April 9, 2013 in Design Dilemma
Hey everyone. I just wanted to give a heads up to the people who keep asking about paint and where to find a certain shade.

As a photographer...I would guess that about 99% of the photos on here are not a perfect representation of the paint color of a wall. Not saying that the pro's don't get it darn close...but because the variations of shades are so subtle when you are purchasing a certain paint...the chances that a photo is EXACTLY correct is rare. This is because photographers are battling multiple sources of light for interior photos, which we have calculate on location (whether in camera, light meters, etc). Getting the white balance EXACTLY correct...and I mean close enough to differentiate between the subtle shades you would pick at a home improvement center...is extremely difficult. Every hour that passes throughout the day, the walls will change colors. Even if your photographer brings professional lighting...this is still affecting the photo. So when you are asking about paint colors, just keep this in mind...because they are rarely as they look in reality.

Just thought I would give a heads up. Good luck designing everyone!
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nFORMAL design
That's a great point Chibi! Though I'm not a photographer, I almost want to use your expertise and take it a step further by saying color may be even more distorted when looking at it on a computer monitor too! As designers, we constantly have to play around with color, brightness, contrast, etc. when printing out things on paper due to the variances of different screen resolutions and settings to get that perfect look we're after. It's almost NEVER how it looks on screen!!! Not only are you correct in your statement, but people could be printing some of these colors out, which could in turn, be even more off. Just some more info to keep in mind houzzers!
April 9, 2013 at 8:46am     
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Chibi Moku - Architectural Cinema - Photo - 360
You are absolutely 100% correct! And we are talking...not even CLOSE to what it actually looks like. We videographers/photographers use color calibrating hardware (that actually sits on our screens to calibrate them) to get correct colors. And the real professional calibrators actually read the lighting in our room and change throughout the day depending on what our situation is. That is how sensitive our eyes are. Also...when it comes to darker colors as well, the black point of monitors are all different. I recently conducted a test to find out at what point your monitor sees black (adobe RGB)...Macbook Pros are around 2, iPhones/ipads 8, imacs 4/5...windows cheap laptops 8-10...LCD tvs usually 16...they really all vary. Also, if the editor of the photo is not aware of these things, then their edit will also affect it. For instance, if someone is editing on a 2013 imac (where even after calibrated, the blacks are crushed), they will make the edit to look good in the shadows (but are actually raising the black level when compared to what it looks like in real life). There are a million things at play here...but the bottom line is...99.9% of the photos you see will not be a representation of what is real...unless the planets align for you...especially paint colors.
April 9, 2013 at 8:52am     
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kimdee24
Absolutely correct, both of you. I battle this every day in my work, clients asking why their printed piece doesn't look how did on screen or from their desktop printers. It takes a lot of work sometimes to explain the subtleties between monitors, RGB, CMYK, inks, litho... etc., and how everybody's monitor will show color slightly differently.

The only way to be 100% sure is to have the swatch in the room with your own light and your own eyes.
April 9, 2013 at 8:57am   
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Joanne Jakab Interior Design
As an interior designer who has had many projects professionally photographed I know what you are saying is true. However, I feel in some cases knowing the paint on a project can give others direction for their projects. If they work with a local designer or paint store expert then they should understand. Often my clients are using houzz projects to define the feeling of light, warm, dark, or vibrant versus an exact shade. And so telling a houzz reader a paint shade can actually help them even if they end up using another shade.
April 9, 2013 at 9:00am   
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Chibi Moku - Architectural Cinema - Photo - 360
Actually...you can go even further here...and link this to print. When editing for print...you are supposed to set your "K" (kelvin) temperature of your monitor to something similar to the paper you will use. (which is usually somewhere around 5000K). Because most paper is not pure white...it has a warmth to it. Now, unless the editor specifically made multiple edits of a photo (which...is starting to get out of budget for most architectureal photographers), the colors will be altered. Most photographers who are editing for the web edit around 6500K or something close. So if it was published in a book or magazine, the colors have been changed because of the paper. Also, you gotta know what kind of paper the magazine uses because they tend to be a different color than standard print paper.

Now, we are kind of nitpicking here...and most of the time the differences are very subtle. But in terms of my original statement...judging paint colors...it will DEFINITELY affect subtle shades.
April 9, 2013 at 9:01am   
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kimdee24
There are so many factors, yes, paper is another. In the end, in printing, we aim for 'pleasing color', and sometimes, that's about as good as it gets.
April 9, 2013 at 9:03am   
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ASVInteriors
Just to say I think you are preaching to the converted but much appreciated as a timely reminder.

It is so difficult when even the make up for the colours on our screens are derived from a totally different spectrum than print (RGB vs CMYK).

Also I will add that I have had photographers take pictures of my work, and I have concluded that I want to live in the picture they took - and not the real thing!!!
April 9, 2013 at 9:04am     
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nFORMAL design
We actually had a case where a friend was picking out colors, and I said do not, and I repeat DO NOT pick out finish colors based on a paint company's website--in one ear and out the other. Then, they wonder why the color on the screen looks nothing like the color on the wall.
April 9, 2013 at 10:28am     
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