Lightroom: Improve Your Photos in Less than 1 minute

Whenever somebody complains that their photos do not look “right”, the “Mr Know-It-All” will always give the same answer:

Hey, idiot! Why are you asking that dumb question? Obviously, you didn't calibrate your …

Just add the word monitor, printer…

Does calibration help? Yes, but not as much as you think, the problem is that it's almost impossible to match colors over different mediums. You can say and do whatever you want, you will never be able to exactly match the LCD screen that is illuminated from behind to a print that reflects light.

So what can you do? You have to make some choices and decisions.

You can calibrate everything and use Pantone colors (standard colors) in your photos, while matching the Pantone colors at every step of the way and hope/pray that the other people viewing your photos/prints are also fully calibrated from their lighting to their Adobe RGB capable LCD monitors.

You can decide that most of your photos are used for screen display by other people or to be viewed in various web browser, on iPhones/smartphones, photo frames…

Monitor Adjustment Target Monitor adjustment target from the National Archives and Records Administration: The target consists of two scales of shades of gray ranging from white to black. The top scale illustrates the full range of tones that a computer monitor can represent when set to 256 or more colors (8 bits or higher). The lower scale consists of three sets of shades, including two dark shades, three middle gray shades and two light shades. The shades in each set on the lower scale should be just distinguishable from the adjacent similar shade(s). Use the contrast and brightness control on your monitor to adjust the appearance of the top scale so that you see a broad range of shades from white to black and that all seven shades on the lower scale are distinguishable.monitor-target.jpg — http://www.archives.gov/research/arc/adjust-monitor.html: http://www.archives.gov/research/arc/adjust-monitor.html

Monitor Adjustment Target Monitor adjustment target from the National Archives and Records Administration

For prints

Look at this little graphic from http://www.archives.gov/research/arc/adjust-monitor.html. Use the bottom row of the graphic which is made of 3 sets of shades: 2 dark shades, 3 middle gray shades and 2 light shades. On the monitor itself there's a menu/configuration button:

  • Press on the Menu/Configuration button
  • Go to the contrast: set it to 50%
  • Go to the brightness: start at 25% and raise it until you can see the all the patches on the bottom row. Stop as soon as you can see them all.

For web viewing

Then look at this little graphic from http://www.archives.gov/research/arc/adjust-monitor.html. Use the top row of the graphic which is made of 11 shades: from white through gray to black. On the monitor itself there's a menu/configuration button:

  • Press on the Menu/Configuration button
  • Go to the contrast: set it to 50%
  • Go to the brightness: start at 85% and lower it until you can see the all the patches on the top row. Stop as soon as you can see them all.