Color Calibration: Now I See Clearly


Last week, I posted that I was awaiting the arrival of my Spyder 2 Express color calibration system.  At the request of some of Shutter Photo’s readers, I am writing today as a follow-up to share my experiences.  So here’s the entire story.

First and foremost, I want to state that I was not ignorant to color calibration technology.  There are a number of devices on the market, and many photographers preech about their favorite systems.  But I was working under the misconception that my monitor was fairly accurate, so a color calibration system was something that fell to the back burner.  But then I tried to order prints.  Specifically, I ordered prints of Temple of Lights, and was greatly disappointed at how it came out.  So it was time for me to face facts:  I needed a color management solution.  So I ordered the Spyder 2 Express.  Below is a side-by-side comparison of one of my photographs, one edited before and and one after calibration.

[singlepic id=267 w=300 float=left][singlepic id=283 w=300 float=right]

The image on the left is what I previously considered the final product.  The image on the right is how I had intended the photo to look.

Calibration does not result in an instant effect.  The image above was not changed in any way by calibrating the monitor.  However, my view and understanding of the photo during post-production has changed.  Before calibration, my monitor was a little bright and had a color shift slightly to the blue side of the spectrum.  Not realizing this, I feel that the majority of my photos were a little warmer (more yellows and reds)  and a little bit lower key (darker) than I would have liked.  Now that my monitor is calibrated, I am seeing the color as it should be.  I am no longer overcompensating for the brightness or the coldness.  My photos are now showing the colors, brightness and contrast the way I intend it.

Assuming that the majority of your viewers don’t have calibrated monitors, why does all this matter?  Two reasons:  Printing and Accuracy.  Your printer or a print service’s printer has a color profile that can be calibrated against.  But in order to do so, you will need to create a profile for your monitor.  That profile is developed as part of the calibration process.  As for accuracy…well, it should be your desire to be as accurate as possible.  But if it isn’t, be aware that most monitors are not very far off.  Those that are well calibrated may very well be owned by your next client or employer.  That’s a first impression you don’t want to mess up.

I now regret that I didn’t buy a calibration system earlier.  Seeing is believing, and I now feel like I was blind before.  Bottom line:  I can’t think of a single reason why a photographer shouldn’t have a calibration device.


About Author

D. Travis North is a professional Landscape Architect, a Freelance Photographer and founder of Shutter Photo. Ever since he picked up his first SLR, his father's Nikon N2000, he's been hooked on photography. Travis likes to photograph urban environments, architectural details and has a new-found interest in close-up photography. His work can be found at D. Travis North Photography. Follow Travis on twitter: @dtnorth.

Comments are closed.

Shutter Photo: Photography Education, Inspiration and Wisdom. Since 2008. (Copyright © 2008-2014)