Seeing Red

July 26, 2012  •  Leave a Comment

 

…or is it scarlet or is it vermillion ? 

Ever wonder why your photos don’t look the same on your screen as they do when printed ?  Well there’s a couple of reasons, but one of the major issues is that your monitor may not be calibrated.  For the odd snapshot this may not be a big deal and you can get round the problem by asking the lab to colour correct the image before printing.  This option instructs the lab to remove any colour cast and chances are you will get a fairly close representation of your cameras output.

But if you like to edit your own photos or if you like that purple tinge to the sky in your sunset photo, you could run into problems.  Imagine you take a self portrait under normal lighting conditions but your un-calibrated monitor tends to the bluish side of the spectrum, you will be tempted to compensate by boosting the red in your editing software until it looks right.  Looks fine on the screen, but take that file to another computer, projector or take it to the lab to get printed and you might come out looking like you’ve spent way too much time in the sun without any lotion.  Okay, this might be a bit extreme and colour correction could help, but if you are serious or just a control freak, then you have to calibrate.

I’m not sure I’d classify myself as a control freak, but I am serious and I expect my images to be exactly the way I envisage them whether on the screen, projected or in print.  I can’t control everyones monitor but I can certainly control my own workflow by calibrating my own monitor to the true colour profile set by ICC Standards (where vermillion is vermillon and scarlet is scarlet). If I gave that file to someone else with a calibrated monitor, they would see the exact same colour range as I do.

Step in the Spyder.  This is a small hardware device looks much more like a desktop mouse than a web spinning arachnid.  It sits on the screen and through a software package, measures a series of displayed colours which it then matches with the database of true colours.  It will then make the necessary adjustments to the colour, contrast and brightness of the screen and save a little adjustment file that will work away in the background.  The second part in the calibration is to make sure that the printer paper profile is correct.  Each type of paper will give a slight variance in hue depending on the coatings and the inks used.  Again by using an adjustment file specific to that sheet of paper, I can ensure that the printed colours meet the ICC standards and therefore look exactly as I see them on the screen.  From my last post, I indicated that I am using Hahnemuhle paper. It comes with instructions and a digital file to implant in the printer to ensure the whole system is calibrated.  How geeky is that? when even a sheet of paper is digitally controlled.

So now when I see red, I really am seeing red.


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