Having a calibrated monitor is essential for any photographer that wants to produce accurate prints of their images.
This post is an overview of the process of evaluating and calibrating your monitor. Many books have been written on the subject, but my intent here is to boil it down to the essentials without getting too much into the science behind color management.
| Why should you calibrate your monitor?
| Evaluating your display
Look at the two charts below. You should be able to clearly distinguish between the 10 bands on each chart. If you can’t distinguish between the bands on the right side of the Highlight Detail chart, contrast is too high. If you can’t distinguish between the bands on the left side of the Shadow Detail chart, brightness is too low.
|The image below contains items that we are all familiar with. If the items just don’t look right, or if they have a distinctive color cast to them, then your monitor is not showing you true-to-life colors.|
|Calibrating your monitor
There are essentially two methods to calibrate your display – with software only and using a calibration device coupled with profiling software. On the resources page we have links to free monitor calibration software. While this isn’t the recommended method, software-only solutions can be a good starting point.
|The preferred method to calibrate a monitor is to use a calibration device, such as a colorimeter, coupled with profiling software. Our resources page has links to a couple of good monitor calibration solutions. Fine-tuning your monitor is a two-step process.
Calibration: Adjusting the controls in your monitor so that it is as close to establish standards as possible.
Profiling: Characterizing the display and creating an ICC profile that describes the behavior of the monitor.
|The calibration software will direct you in making the initial brightness, contrast and color temperature settings.The hardware, or colorimeter, comes in the form of a mouse like device that hangs in front of your screen. A series of color swatches will be displayed on the screen and measured by the colorimeter. After several swatches have been measured the program directs you in fine-tuning the settings. Which adjustments it will ask you to make depends on what settings are available on your monitor. Some monitors only have brightness and contrast settings. Other monitors allow control of the individual RGB (red, green, blue) channels. When these settings are within an acceptable range, the program will begin to display and measure a broad range of color swatches.When it is finished, an ICC color profile of the monitor will be created. This profile characterizes the display and creates a LUT (lookup table) that will translate the color values in your digital image file so that what you see on your monitor is as accurate as possible.|
|The image below illustrates the workflow process.|
|At flōt-art we maintain a fully color-managed workflow. As part of our commitment to service, we evaluate every image before it is printed. You can rest assured that we will inform you if we think that the colors seem off, and with your permission, will adjust the colors so that the print will be as rich and vibrant as possible.|
| We want to hear from you
Do you work on a calibrated monitor? Leave a comment.