Saturday, September 29, 2012

Bosses From The Eighth Circle Of Hell: Color Correction

Throughout my career I've prided myself on working hard, performing what's asked of me to the best of my ability, and being an all-around good employee. I've also done my best to get along with my various bosses.

Alas, sometimes that's just not possible. Sometimes you end up with a Boss From The Eighth Circle of Hell.

Back in the 1990s I worked as a graphic designer at a marketing company, for a rather colorful boss. One day my Boss came into the designer's office all in a tizzy. He was holding a color photo in his hand, moaning and fretting and pacing back and forth. After several minutes of questioning I finally got to the source of his strife: the color photo he was holding needed to be converted to black and white and sent to a print shop in Indianapolis by noon. The Boss (who wasn't exactly a technical wiz) didn't know how we could possibly accomplish this in time, as he said it would take days for a color photo to be turned into black and white and mailed halfway across the state.

While he was gnashing his teeth and rending his garments, I took the color photo from him and scanned it into Photoshop. Once in the application I selected "Grayscale" from a drop-down menu and converted it to black and white. I then saved a copy of the file and emailed it to the print shop. The entire operation took less than five minutes. I interrupted the Boss' fit and told him it was all taken care of. Instead of thanking me though, he just stood there giving me a wary look, like he suspected I was some kind of witch. He hurried out of the office, suspiciously glancing back at me the entire time.

A few weeks later the Boss came into the designer's office with a new project for me. You can probably guess where this is going. He handed me a black and white photo and wanted me to "work my magic" on it and turn it into a color shot. I stared at him for a few seconds and then told him that was impossible. He said, "Well you turned that color shot into a black and white one, so why can't you do it the other way around?" 

I tried to explain that going from color to grayscale was easy— you're simplifying the image, taking millions of colors and distilling them down to 256 shades of gray. Going the opposite direction is just not possible. How would Photoshop know what color shirt a person in the picture was wearing? What color's their car? The building behind them?

As you might well imagine, this (and any kind of technical explanation) sailed far, far over the Boss' head. He snatched the photo back in disgust and said, "Why do we have all this expensive equipment around here if it can't do what I need it to do?" and stormed out.


  1. "Instead of thanking me though, he just stood there giving me a wary look, like he suspected I was some kind of witch."
    HAHAHAHAHHA! This is hysterical and one of my favorite Bob Canada Blog series!

  2. Thanks! Unfortunately I've got a lot more material I can use for this feature.

  3. I would be sorry for you but the stories are too good :)


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