The best day of the week: calibration worries edition

IMG_7515ppThe kitchen wall at Guerilla Cafe, Berkeley, CA

I use a Mac for my photos and just assumed that the colors on the monitor were accurate and fabulous. This, coupled with my laziness, made me never feel the urge to calibrate my monitor. But then a friend kindly offered his calibration software, promised it’d be fast and easy, and I said yes and hoped that I wouldn’t notice a big difference after calibration (because otherwise, all my post-processing would be off!).

You know where this is going, right? So now I have a calibrated monitor… and ho boy, there’s a difference. Before calibration, it seemed more desaturated, cooler toned, and less contrasty. And now after calibration, it’s the opposite! More saturated and much higher contrast than I expected. And my colors look way off. I am going to recalibrate again just in case we did it wrong, but my goodness… I’m surfing around the internet and now all photos seem so saturated! Is this how it is? Are pictures really like this? (Although the colors Jamie Beck’s photos looked perfect before and after, so who knows.)

So, long story short, if my photos are indeed as high contrast and saturated as it now appears on my computer… I don’t know. I don’t even know, guys.

Happy Friday, though. And calibrate your monitor! (And yes, that’s why I did a b&w processing on this picture — who knows what the color and contrast actually looks like!)

Link Love:
A mariachi band serenading a beluga whale (way adorable)
Photographs from Kate Moss’ wedding
Jamie Beck’s A Swingin’ Summer
An old (murder?) mystery


12 thoughts on “The best day of the week: calibration worries edition

  1. hmmm, they do not look that saturated to me… and i use a Samsung monitor that actually has saturated tones. i think they look really nice, and i have always wanted to learn how to post process like you do, because i absolutely love that brownish tone you have in your photos!

    anyway, i guess it’s also hard to say if the colors are off, since there can be different calibrations for each monitor out there and although we may all be looking at the same photo, they just might look different too each of us…

  2. haha i’ve never thought your pictures looked super saturated. and i do calibrate my monitor every month or so. :)

    and can we talk about how awesome this shot is?!?!

  3. Hah! I am going to go out on a limb here and admit that I’ve never calibrated my monitor (though I do know that it runs on the cool side – whenever I hop on Chris’s Mac I’m shocked by how warm everything is!).

    I’m also going to show my ignorance here and ask – if you’re not making prints, what’s the point in shelling out for monitor calibration? No snark intended – this is an honest question from someone who doesn’t know much about calibration. It’s just so impossible and futile to control what other people see on their computers at home that I never really understood the point beyond the benefit of your own two eyes to see everything a little different.

    Also, like everyone else, I’ve never noticed off-colors or anything over here. Your photos always look lovely to me! Then again, I don’t calibrate, so… :)

  4. @boOmslang, marisa, Didex: Thank you! :)

    @Alice & Jonathan: once a month?! oh man, i was thinking this calibration business was a one-time thing! do you mean that built-in calibration function on the Mac, like in the Display screen? Where you try to make the Apple icon blend into the background?

    @Kim: Yeah, I totally get ya. I was the same — like, what’s the point since I rarely make prints? So for the past 2 years, I never cared to calibrate. But then the software dropped into my lap, and I’m like, let’s just give it a shot! And now that I see how suddenly terrible my photos were looking, I care. Haha! It’s less about the colors (eh, I’m fairly lenient in my color range for pics) but more about the contrast. I usually add a little contrast, but if my computer was making photos appear less contrasty to begin with, then maybe I didn’t need that extra contrast! So if I add contrast to a photo that already has a good amount of it (unbeknownst to me due to my uncalibrated monitor), then they’ll wind up looking craaaazy contrasty. Which is what’s happened now. ALTHOUGH I will say my guy’s laptop is in crazy serious need of calibration — faaaar too blue-toned, to the point where he literally cannot process his photos because the colors are off not by like 3% but like 50%, you know? So he may be a better case for it than I. (Although I will be laying off the contrast now!) :)

  5. I think the photos you’ve been posting on your local creators look amazing- don’t change anything there! Sometimes different web browers have different colorspaces so that the colors you see on photoshop doesn’t necessarily translate (at least in my limited experience :) I do agree with Kim – I think ultimately what matters the most is the colors that come out on the prints.

  6. I’ve always liked your photos very much. I liked the themes and especially the colors. Saturated and crisp. I’m curious if I notice a difference when you hire new full color photographs.
    I have not calibrated my monitor, I hope it goes without.

  7. I’ve never noticed off colors or over saturation in your shots. Then again, I have never calibrated my monitor and it probably wouldn’t hurt to do so. Eventually!

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