Do You See What I See?

Why, why, WHY do we sometimes see different things on our monitors? Occasionally I hear about image brightness or color. Surprisingly though, not too often. When I edit an image, do you see it the same way I did? Depends.

Computer monitors, like almost anything else in the world of tech (thermostats, tire inflators, your Subaru’s speedometer), need to be calibrated to be consistent. What does that mean? Calibration means setting up a device to a specific set of standards. If both our monitors are calibrated, they should match in brightness, color, and contrast.

Note: Out of the box, and adjusted to your visual preference, your monitor is NOT calibrated. Calibration makes it accurate, but not necessarily pretty. How I calibrate my monitors:

Using a specific hardware device and software package (this requires specialized external hardware), I plug this little puck in and stick it to the face of the monitor. I then allow the software to access color settings, and let it rip.

The next few minutes are interesting: The screen goes black, bright white, a hundred shades of gray, and cycles through multiple colors both bright and pastel. The process takes a few minutes. The result? They call it: White Point to 6500K (D65), White level to 120 cd/m2 and Gamma to 2.2 – recommended settings for editing photographs.

If you’re in marketing or communications, or are in the business of reviewing graphics and photography, you need to calibrate your monitors! Ask a photo or graphics vendor what to buy to do it yourself, or ask your IT department to do it for you. Happy editing!