Wednesday, July 6, 2011

..just one more thing on color calibration.

As I was re-reading my last blog post on color calibration I realized I had forgotten one more point to make..

After you have established solid color management in your digital darkroom you will be able to process your images and print what you see on the screen.. basically if your output is prints, and only prints, then you are all set...

However... most (nearly all) digital photographers these days don't just make prints.. the most widely used way to display your work is using online galleries on web sites. Now from what we learned last time we know that the standard web browser does not support color management.. also 99.9999% of your viewers will not have calibrated monitors.. So all these people viewing your work will not really be looking at faithful representations of the original image...

There isn't much you can do. It is just a fact of life with digital display. You have no idea if people will see your work on a full blown digital monitor or a cell phone. You just have no control over it. The best approach is to always double check your digital galleries on different types of set ups. This is a lot like what (at least used to be) done in music studios where the final mix of a song was previewed on different types of speakers, stereos, and even Walkmans to make sure that the average listener (who wouldn't be using $1000 studio monitors) was going to hear what the artist intended even if all they had was a cheep set of headphones. Quite a lot of techniques with notch filters, eq-ing, etc were developed to create a mix which would work on most situations.

In this case view your gallery on a few different "average" computers, on a cell phone, and maybe even an apple Ipad.. make sure that in each case the images (while still not being faithfully reproduced) at least come close to what you intended. If, for example, you have a very high key image make sure that enough highlight detail is preserved on these setups so the user doesn't just see a totally blown out image. If not then you may want to consider creating a new version of the image tailored for online display.

When working with clients who see their proofs on a web gallery it is critical to inform them of this dilemma. Forget about filling them in on the finer details.. most people don't get it nor do they want to know. Just a statement like:
"Due to the irregularities in computer displays and how they are configured the images you see on the screen will not faithfully show how the final printed product will look. In nearly all cases the prints will look substantially better."
And then let them figure it out from there...

I find with most clients they get the point right away... and after they see just one example they no longer even care about it..

Anyway.. that just about sums up what I want to say about color calibration and management at the moment.. if anyone wants more details just fire off a message to me.

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