Having a calibrated monitor is essential when color correcting and editing digital images. The setting where the computer is located can be equally as important to ensure your eyes are perceiving that color correctly.
You’re favorite color may be red, but that is a bad choice for a wall color where you do your editing. So is bright florescent light or a near by window. For precise color image editing the most effective work space is a specially designed darkened room where the overall illumination is lower than the brightness of your computer monitor.
To create the ideal “digital darkroom” you must consider the lighting levels and color tone of the entire room. To begin with, windows should be either heavily shaded from outdoor lighting or omitted outright to maintain a constant level of illumination throughout the work day. Next, to prevent ambient conditions from affecting human color perception, daylight-balanced D50 (or 5,000º Kelvin) fluorescent or filtered halogen lamps should be used for illumination. Ideally, walls and ceilings should be painted a neutral gray. If possible, even flooring, countertops, and monitor faceplates should be a neutral color. If the conditions for editing and viewing digital images are not rigidly controlled, the most subtle changes in color, brightness, and contrast displayed on a computer monitor may be impossible for the human eye to distinguish.
Following recommended standard viewing conditions can ensure not only accuracy in color imaging, but also consistency. The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) publishes two extensive guidelines pertaining to the graphic industry. ISO 3664:2009 is for viewing conditions for the graphic technology and photographic industry – when the digital image files are displayed on a computer monitor in isolation, independent of any form of hard copy. ISO 12646:2008 is designed for setting up a workstation that will be used for comparing digital image files to a printed output – from soft proof to hard copy. These publications cover all aspects of room lighting environmental surfaces.
It may require a little bit of an investment to acquire the right types of lighting and setting up your workspace properly. Ultimately the result can save you time and money by knowing that you are accurately viewing and color correcting your images.