Thursday, February 10, 2011

Calibration = Correct Colors

If you're anything like me, you've stared at your computer screen for hours drooling over other people's wedding images, meticulously creating wedding projects in various computer programs, and agonizing over colors/details/textures of wedding-related purchases you make online.  Needless to say you and I are logging a lot of screen time, which means we probably place a high importance on our computer screen showing us an *exact* replica of whatever we're looking at. 

Recently I sent some pictures off to be printed, and when they returned they were very different from the image I saw on my screen.  Because these images came from a source I trusted (not a professional photo lab by any means, but the best I've used thus far), I guessed that the problem was not on their end.  So if the problem was on my end, then I knew there was an issue with how my screen was rendering colors.  At the time, I didn't know what the term for this was, so I googled like crazy until I came across some articles about monitor calibration.  Since I'm very interested in photography and I do a fair amount of photo editing (not to mention that I'm about to have a certain big event in my life that will generate thousands of photos, which I'll probably want to look at on my computer screen), I decided to take the plunge and order a lower-end monitor calibration software. 

I'd never calibrated my monitor before, so I don't have anything to compare this to, but nevertheless I was pretty amazed with the results.  I wasn't able to capture the actual before and after as it's seen on my screen because when I turn the calibration on, both images just look the same.  So I took some rudimentary pictures of my screen in hopes that you could kinda see the difference.  Befores on the left, Afters on the right.

Taking a picture of a picture being displayed on a screen is NOT the most accurate way to document this change because some of the differences between the before and after pics get lost in translation.  But I hope you can also see that the change is more dramatic on some images than on others. 

The most amazing part (and the part I couldn't get an accurate picture of, unfortunately) is how much more similar the printed photos are to the images I see on the screen now.  That's going to be so crucial when we're printing a bunch of paper goods for the invitations or signage and especially when we're editing photos and ordering prints after the wedding.  I'm really glad I learned about this now and not after I'd been editing/ordering photos for hours only to print them and find that they weren't as I expected. 

Have you ever used monitor calibration software before?  What did you think of the results?

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