Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A new view...

First blog post on the new monitor... I decided to get rid of my rather old Apple CRT monitor because the phosphors seemed to be pretty burned out and not giving me accurate contrast. Plus, between laptops and cheap "flat panel" monitors, it seems like that is the "target" for most of my images anymore, so I should be working them to look good on one of these über-sharp, bright and ultra-contrasty jobs, instead of my comfortable old monitor where things still look rich and warm and just the right amount of softness.

So, not only will I have to get used to this for my online images, but I'll have to find out just how what I see on this screen equates to my camera, and to my printers, and even publishers. Calibration is, and has been, the biggest bitch for electronic publishing and digital photography. An advantage of film is that most people used one of a handful of film stocks, which were the same pretty much anywhere you went, and which would be processed in essentially the same way every time, and negatives were printed in pretty standardized fashion, so the results were predictable and within the photographer's control. You'd shoot an image, process the film, make a print, put it on the wall, and everyone who viewed it saw the exact same thing.

Nowadays, I shoot an image like the one of Kat above, and it looks good on the back of the camera, but it may look different once I get it into photoshop, so I fix it to look good on my "calibrated" monitor, and I post it, only for everyone to look at it on a thousand different types/brands/ages of monitors with countless variations in the settings, so frankly, it's hard for me to predict what ANYONE is seeing when they look at this image. I considered getting one of the high-end Apple Cinema Displays but instead I chose a nice, but basic, Samsung T220, since that's probably closer to the "common denominator" of what people are using to view this blog and my online portfolios. If it looks good on this, an image should look even better on a higher-class monitor, right? Or maybe not.

When I edited this image a few days ago on the old CRT, her hand on the left side was almost completely lost in the shadow, as well as virtually all of her face. Today when I look at it on the new LCD monitor, those areas are still in shadow, but now they're somewhat visible. Which do you see? Which would the judges for an art show see? Which is truer to my vision? Should I go back and "correct" the image to what I'd originally thought I was getting?

The "implications" of this change are pretty daunting in some ways, as I need to decide how to answer these questions for the hundreds (thousands?) of photos I have out there, if it's worth revisiting, or if I just move ahead.

Any photographers reading who'd care to share their insight, I'd greatly appreciate it.


Stephen Haynes said...

The most severe differnce, IMO, continues to be between Apple's gamma 1.8 and the PCs' gama 2.2. Images like the one in this post will appear much more open in the shadows on a Mac than on a PC. And that's something no one can do anything about.

MichaelV. said...

IMO I’d let it go and move on. The web is good for a representation of our work but to really “see” it takes a print..., you could drive yourself a little bit nuts and a whole lot crazy. Even the best of shooters sends his images to a shop that has to redo the image even though there calibrated the same. Just concentrate on keeping up the good work.

Tim said...

I agree with Michael V. The print matters most and you can worry yourself nuts with this. However, I would have gone with the Mac. I know purists don't think the cinema display is adequate, but for most photographers I think it is great.