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Thread: Monitor calibration and profiling

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    Lon Howard's Avatar
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    Monitor calibration and profiling

    At my camera club, my prints were rather dark and dingy and my projected images a bit washed out. So I was compensating by taking one additional step during editing: on print night by over-brightening and on projection night by over-vibrancing. This guess-work did improve things but other members persuaded me to borrow the club-owned Color Munki to "calibrate my monitor."

    So I did, and after two frustrating days of drowning in the techno-speak and waiting for the lights to go on through osmosis (aha! that's what that means ... ), I'm done for now and here's what I've found - I think. (I only did the display profiling portion because I send out my images for printing.)

    The most evident thing was that the Munki simply dimmed my monitor by sending the brightness slider way to the left. Editing the images in this state of course means that I have to brighten the image much more to get it to look right. I re-edited a couple of recent print images by (1) deleting the layer with the over-brightening step, and (2) using the new profile with the dimmer monitor, brightened the image with a levels adjustment layer. The resulting re-prints were much better and more natural looking that what I had printed before; so the new profile appears to have worked and has eliminated the guess-work involved in bumping up the brightness, as I had been doing.

    The color in those re-prints though, looks identical to what was there before. Is this because I didn't do anything to the color after profiling, and only brightened the image because my monitor was dimmer? I'm assuming that if I'm happy with the color in the re-print, then there'd be no advantage in re-working the entire image with a newly-profiled monitor.

    Although working with the dimmer monitor works wonders for editing purposes, it's just toooo dark for general use, so I'm going to have to bump up the brightness when I'm not editing images and tweak it back down when editing. Is this a normal protocol for those who have calibrated/profiled their monitors? Wouldn't want to be considered abnormal!

    This is a very mysterious subject for me so any thoughts that will burn off the fog are highly appreciated. Cheers!

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    Re: Monitor calibration and profiling

    Hi Lon,

    Sounds to me like you're possibly outputting the images with the wrong profile attached - any chance you can post one of the images here?

    I haven't used a Color Munki (I'm a Spyder man), but profiled screens shouldn't be overly dark - in fact, I run my main editing screen at a fairly bright 200cd/m2 - so something not adding up there either.

    We've recently discussed a similar topic - so you might find the info here useful.

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    Re: Monitor calibration and profiling

    One other thing to consider, Lon, is the printer. This can cause similar problems if the wrong settings are used. Also, some papers gives different results to others.

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    Re: Monitor calibration and profiling

    Thanks for your help, Colin. It's taken a while for me to get back on this because I wanted to review the thread you posted and also this other one: Monitor Calibration & Profiling. I also went back and looked at the metadata from many of the images I've submitted for our club competitions.

    Just to clarify please, when you and others use the term 'outputting' an image, I'm assuming you mean either uploading to CiC or someplace, emailing to my club's digital director, or simply saving to a location on my computer. If this isn't correct, then it's pretty obvious that I need to know what that means .

    One large obstacle for me is that until recently, I never really understood what color space/profile was all about because every time I read or heard people talk about it, it was so far beyond my comprehension that I didn't even know how to pose a question. When I did try to delve into it on my own, the complexity was so daunting and the effort so time-consuming and frustrating that I dropped the subject and went back to whatever project I was working on. So not having paid attention to it, the metadata on my outputted images so far shows three different profiles: (1) sRGB IEC61966-2.1; (2) Adobe RGB (1998); (3) Camera RGB Profile. I'm not quite sure why the differences, although I do know of at least one case where the color space setting on my newest camera got changed somehow .

    I think it will be too difficult to pinpoint the problem right now because of the fact that the outputted profiles have been all over the map, and so in that regard, I'll just start from here and build a fresh body of work/data that I can rely on. To be honest, after reviewing both of those other threads, I am still very much in the dark regarding this whole subject, but I think I got enough out of it so that I can at least locate where on my camera and in PS to find the relevant settings, and to be able to manipulate them accordingly. However just to be sure, I will ask some more questions after lunch to make sure I'm on the right track. Thanks so much for your input.

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    Lon Howard's Avatar
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    Re: Monitor calibration and profiling

    Quote Originally Posted by Geoff F View Post
    One other thing to consider, Lon, is the printer. This can cause similar problems if the wrong settings are used. Also, some papers gives different results to others.
    Hi Geoff,

    Posting at the same time, it looks like. Thanks for your advice. Anyway, as far as printing goes, I upload those to Costco and let them print for me. I do now understand that it's possible for me to somehow match up my monitor profile with their print profiles (I'm sure my terminology here is convoluted ... ), and that looks to be my next project. Sometimes it seems that all I do is investigate how to solve problems rather than go out and take pictures.

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    Re: Monitor calibration and profiling

    Sorry if this seems so, duh ... elementary, but I'm really starting with almost nothing to go on.

    This is the way I understand it right now: Starting at the beginning (on my camera), it appears the only thing to manipulate is the color space setting, which should be sRGB. As long as that's done, when the image opens in ACR, it should indicate at the bottom that the profile is sRGB IEC61966.2-1. If it shows something else, then I should change it to that.

    So then the image opens in PS, and I should make sure the Image Mode is set to RGB Color.

    Now, I've just spent a couple of hours wading through the CS5 help function on color management, and I'm sure I'll have to re-read it. It has been painful but helpful (no pain no gain, eh?). I still have a lot to figure out but the only real question I have at least at this point regards the RGB working space setting in Edit > Color Settings. Since the new profile determined by the Color Munki is now the Monitor RGB selection, I'm assuming I should select that one instead of the default RGB IEC 61966-2.1??

    Above I alluded to the fact that the Color Munki dimmed my monitor. Well, look at what I found buried in the CS5 help function:

    "Section 4 - Soft Proofing

    A frequently asked Photoshop questions is: why don't my prints match the screen? Generally it's down to poor monitor calibration, but on other occasions it's simply the fact that the user has an unrealistically high expectation of what can be printed. We dealt with monitor calibration in Section 2, however, on the subject of prints I'm reminded of a conversation I had with Thomas Knoll (original author of Photoshop) on my photo trip to Antarctica in January 2009. During this conversation Thomas suggested that much of the problem is really due to overly bright monitors, especially those based on LCD technology. So, if you're still having problems with dark prints after calibration it's worth reducing the display brightness control by 10/15%."

    So in sifting through all this new information, it appears that I can select Monitor RGB as my working space in PS Color Settings, but dim the brightness when I go to edit my images.

    Just one more question (for now) : In the thread Colin provided the link to above, in post #15, he said he downloaded Frank's original image and noticed that it was in ProPhoto color space. I'm unfamiliar how to 'download' a CiC image, but I did save that image to my desktop, and having done so, saw that the color space was listed as RGB in Bridge. I am curious how Colin determined the color space in Frank's original image to be ProPhoto??

    Did I go off track anywhere?? Thanks a lot for your thoughts.

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    Re: Monitor calibration and profiling

    Hi Lon, I wondered the same thing at the time. It wasn't until I looked at the file in PS Bridge that I saw the PhotoPro reference. I then started checking the color space of a number of other images I had recently processed and discovered that they were all over the place, color space wise. It's a wonder I didn't run into troubles much sooner. The second image in that thread is still flagged as PhotoPro. I hope this helps!

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    Re: Monitor calibration and profiling

    Thanks a lot, Frank. I just saved the one that Jiro got from Flickr and saw that it shows the ProPhoto profile. That must be the one that Colin was referring to. Cheers (to both of us as we plow on ... )!

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    Re: Monitor calibration and profiling

    Hi Lon,

    Bit short on time right now, but to summarise ...

    - If you're using Photoshop then all you need to do at some point with each image is click on EDIT then CONVERT TO PROFILE and ensure that the output profile is set to sRGB (or sRGB IEC61966.2-1).

    - The profile created by the Color Munki is used by your operating system, NOT by Photoshop - DON'T select it as your default working space - just stick to RGB.

    - If you're shooting RAW then all you need to do is click the hyperlink at the bottom of the screen and change the default to sRGB, and everything that passes through ACR from this point forward will be in the sRGB profile.

    - Printshops for the most part assume sRGB - if you send them work in any other profile then you'll end up with dull & under-saturated prints.

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    Lon Howard's Avatar
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    Re: Monitor calibration and profiling

    Thanks Colin,

    The term 'output' profile is still murky for me ... I didn't see that terminology when I went to EDIT > CONVERT TO PROFILE. In the image I chose to work with, what I did see was a source space profile of Adobe 1998 (NOT changeable) and a field for a destination space profile, which showed sRGB. That field WAS changeable - but why change it when it was already what I wanted? Now, I did see an option in EDIT > COLOR SETTINGS for checking some boxes that will alert you to some profile mismatches. I tried checking those boxes and saving the settings; and saw that when I opened the image in PS, I got a box that asked if I wanted to use the embedded profile or convert to the current RGB working space. I chose to convert and THEN went to EDIT > CONVERT TO PROFILE and saw that both the source space and the destination space said sRGB.

    Success, at least I think (hope)!

    So I'm now assuming that in order to change the 'output' profile to sRGB, you have to first make sure that sRGB is your working space. Then, go to EDIT > COLOR SETTINGS and check those boxes that will alert you to a profile mismatch. After that, any time you attempt to open an image in PS that doesn't have an sRGB profile, you will be alerted and at that point you'll choose to convert colors to the working sRGB color space.

    I really don't want to make this overly complicated, but this is where my efforts took me. Is this how you do it? Many thanks!

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    Re: Monitor calibration and profiling

    Quote Originally Posted by Lon Howard View Post
    Thanks Colin,

    The term 'output' profile is still murky for me ... I didn't see that terminology when I went to EDIT > CONVERT TO PROFILE. In the image I chose to work with, what I did see was a source space profile of Adobe 1998 (NOT changeable) and a field for a destination space profile, which showed sRGB. That field WAS changeable - but why change it when it was already what I wanted? Now, I did see an option in EDIT > COLOR SETTINGS for checking some boxes that will alert you to some profile mismatches. I tried checking those boxes and saving the settings; and saw that when I opened the image in PS, I got a box that asked if I wanted to use the embedded profile or convert to the current RGB working space. I chose to convert and THEN went to EDIT > CONVERT TO PROFILE and saw that both the source space and the destination space said sRGB.

    Success, at least I think (hope)!

    So I'm now assuming that in order to change the 'output' profile to sRGB, you have to first make sure that sRGB is your working space. Then, go to EDIT > COLOR SETTINGS and check those boxes that will alert you to a profile mismatch. After that, any time you attempt to open an image in PS that doesn't have an sRGB profile, you will be alerted and at that point you'll choose to convert colors to the working sRGB color space.

    I really don't want to make this overly complicated, but this is where my efforts took me. Is this how you do it? Many thanks!
    Hi Lon,

    Sorry, I tend to do this from memory, and use the term "output profile" and "destination profile" interchangably.

    What Photoshop is telling you in the above example is that the image is currently using the Adobe RGB profile, and if you click OK with sRGB selected as your destination profile, then that's what it'll convert it to (which is what we want). So the question "why change it when it was already what I wanted" is kinda invalid as it's NOT already what you want it to be (assuming online display or to be printed by a print shop).

    What I'd suggest is telling your RAW converter to always spit the image out in sRGB - and use sRGB as your default working space - and you should never have a problem ever again

    If you go into EDIT -> CONVERT TO PROFILE and it says that it's already sRGB (or sRGB .gjiodh djfhfjkg hkfj;g) (whatever it is!) then you don't need to do anything more.

  12. #12
    Lon Howard's Avatar
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    Re: Monitor calibration and profiling

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    If you go into EDIT -> CONVERT TO PROFILE and it says that it's already sRGB (or sRGB .gjiodh djfhfjkg hkfj;g) (whatever it is!)
    In the geezer world that I inhabit, that would be "sRGB umpty-scratch."

    Thanks for all the help Colin, at least now I can get through the Color Settings maze in PS. Since I have gone through the Color Munki's display profiling process, I'm assuming I should select that new profile in the operating system's display preferences (otherwise why profile at all?). I'll continue to experiment with dimming the monitor when editing images - as I mentioned before that seemed to produce more accurate prints than what I was getting before (I think I'll get my own Spyder rather than continuing to check out the club's Munki).

    As an aside, I was surprised that I got as much as I did out of the help function in PS on this subject. Usually, the more complicated the subject the less helpful it is - so much so that I tend to never even look there; but sometimes you seem to connect with a certain writer's style, I guess.

    Thanks so much again.

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    Re: Monitor calibration and profiling

    Quote Originally Posted by Lon Howard View Post
    I'm assuming I should select that new profile in the operating system's display preferences
    Hi Lon,

    In a word, yes

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