Calibrate Your monitor and get your Colours right

When I started photography (over 50 years ago) monochrome was king.

There were some colour processes around but black and white was still the norm.

As a schoolboy I learnt to print my own pictures in the darkroom.

So what about colour?

When I was about 13 years old my parents gave me my first ‘proper’ 35mm camera.

It was a largely plastic Adox Polo with a front cell focussing radionar lens.

Then I tried my first colour shots.

I wandered around my school grounds with my camera loaded with ‘Ilfocolour’.

When I got my prints back imagine my surprise, the sky was purple, the grass seemed blue.

I was not into surrealism as a boy so those results disappointed me.

Still, I learned some lessons.

There is no such thing as ‘accurate’ or ‘correct’ colours in photography

The colour of a photograph depends on many factors included the original lighting conditions

Printing pictures adds another set of problems

So how does this relate to modern digital photography?

Surprisingly we no longer have the individual colours of film brands any more, the Ektachrome blues or the Fuji greens.

And the darkroom is long gone.

I’m writing this post on a computer and it’s as a writer that I entered the world of computing.

Lucky for me as it meant I had no qualms when I found I had to transfer my darkroom skills to my PC.

Still, go to any television dealers and see that the pictures on the different screens have different colours and contrasts.

And this of course applies to your computer monitor.

For a long time I neglected this and did nothing about it.

When I started scanning my slides and using Photoshop Elements I used Adobe gamma to correct my monitor.

Better than nothing.

It’s only now that I can look back on some of my early film scans that I can see the weak washed out colours that result if you don’t calibrate your monitor.

So what’s the solution?

Calibrate your monitor.

A quick search around the web is pretty frightening, it’s all about gamma, white points and so on.

I soon decided that the best approach was to use a hardware/software calibration system.

After reading reviews and looking at my budget I decided on a Spyder – using a hardware device is the best way to calibrate your monitor.

There are a number of devices on the market – but there was my first problem.

There seems to be nothing available in Bulgaria where I live.

A trip to England was also fruitless at first.

At last I found Calumet in Wardour Street in London.

Even there they didn’t have the full range but I finally left with a Spyder 3 Pro.

I thought of writing a review of this device but it’s pointless to re-invent the wheel.

This review at imaging resource is fairly comprehensive (though it’s for the Elite).

The main points for a practicing photographer are that

There is no such thing as correct colour


Calibrate your monitor, it’s a must.

With a hardware device like the Spyder Pro it takes only a few minutes to calibrate your monitor and then you can have confidence that your images are presented as well as possible.

My picture this week is a Still Life from the Hadjii  Nikoli Inn in Velika Turnovo.

You can view the Still Life here.

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Stock photography by John Rocha at Alamy

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