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Pre-Visualization Strategies for Piezography part 2

by
Jon Cone
published on 01/20/2009 19:00:00

Lets take a look at what happens when a display is calibrated too bright. Many photographer like to look at their images as if they were looking at them on a light box. They often calibrate so that the dark point is about 0 L and the white point is about 100 L. In fact, a lot of well-meaning experts will actually convince them to do so. But most well-meaning experts are not printmakers and do not regularly calibrate their displays to match prints. Experts in printing convince photographers to calibrate their displays for print when printing, and calibrate their displays for other purposes when doing those other purposes. In fact, it seems that the only democratic advisors out there who advise in a way that is beneficial to all the potential computer uses are print experts. I believe that their strict needs have made them more sympathetic to intricacies of calibration.

With that said, this entry is explaining what happens when one does not calibrate to print. I firmly believe that a photographer when they are printing should calibrate to print, and when they are working on their websites should calibrate for the web, and when they are working on images for clients which will be displayed on their client’s system should actually calibrate to the client or provide the client a manner in which to calibrate. The whole idea about calibrating is to ensure that an image is previewed correctly. For print, the display should be calibrated to about the relative brightness of the print.

The following illustration shows what happens when the display is calibrated much brighter than the print. In this case, the display by example is set to a dark point of 0 lumens and the brightness is set to 100 lumens. The grayscale image has 256 gray levels which are then stretched so that black is presented at 0 lumens. Of course when its printed, black is measured on the paper at about 18 lumens.

too-bright-print-calibration-copy1

In the above example, the grayscale image is displayed with a black that is much darker than can be printed. As a result of being expanded, the entire shadow range is displayed to the photographer as being darker then it actually is. When the Piezography print is made, the photographer believes the print is “too light”. The reality is that the display is too dark.

The following example shows the relationship between the grayscale image and the display and the final print. This is ideal.

ideal-print-calibration-copy1

The whole concept behind calibrating correctly is not to make an image look “good” on screen, but to make it look like it will print. If the photographer can accurately preview an image as it will print, then the image can be edited and manipulated with confidence. Piezography has an uncanny ability to print a perfectly straight line linearization between dMin and dMax. Because it has such expressive shadow detail, the photographer really needs to be able to see the shadow detail on their monitor. Calibrating too bright weights the linearization of the display too heavy in the darks.

The next entry (Pre-Visualization Strategies for Piezography part 3) will describe a workflow for those who either can’t or refuse to calibrate to print.