Calibrating the hard way


We finally got my new computer from the local shop, and after working out a few bugs (the cpu fan stopped working!) and installing various programs, it’s almost usable.  Almost.  I had to tackle the daunting task of calibrating the monitor by eye.  All monitors are not created equal – what you see on the internet differs from what I see because our monitors are set up differently.  If you don’t believe me, just go to Best Buy and eyeball the different computer monitors – not a one is alike.  This poses a problem when it comes to photo editing – the image must match what the printer spits out, or I waste a lot of time and money trying to manually match it.

Now, real pros have a handy little calibrating program that does this stuff for you.  Since I don’t want to spend a lot of money (and I know there are free programs – I’ve been ordered not to download anything without permission after a few trojan/virus scares!) I decided to calibrate it by eye.  Basically, I printed out a photograph that I know is a good one, since I edited it on my formerly calibrated, dying gamma monitor, and compared the image on the screen until I got it right.  Sounds easy?  Not at all.  I’m still not sure I got the color balance right – the reds and blue aren’t quite as accurate as I want, and I’m still showing a few hot spots on the monitor that aren’t on the original image.  But, overall, I could put up this image without feeling too scared of what it actually looks like.

Corbin and I went for a walk along the Mohawk river the other evening.  Mosquitoes abounded and the water level has dropped drastically, but the evening light was lovely.  I don’t shoot landscape a lot, and this is truly just a snapshot.  Still, I thought it turned out ok for a distracted photo shoot with baby in tow.


I finally got an updated version of Photoshop to go with my brand new computer, so expect some experimentation in the coming weeks.  I have all these new toys and I don’t know what to try first!  In all my spare time, that is.  Of course, when I say I edited a photograph, bear in mind that I’m somewhat of a purist: no wild edits, insertions, or deletions.  I pretty much stick with basic darkroom edits – it’s just what I’m more comfortable with.

2 thoughts on “Calibrating the hard way

  1. This is a lovely photograph, worth the insect bites.
    I have calibrated my monitor using the Windows Calibrate Color (Control Panel – Display) and it works pretty well. The only thing better would be a monitor calibration device that sell from anywhere north of $100. It’s free and you probably already have it.

    • I used the Nvidia calibration panel – it had a little more tweaking ability. I don’t have a calibration device – if I can get away without spending more money, all the better! I might have to break down and buy it though 🙂

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