Thursday, February 25, 2010

A Cautionary Tale!

I think it is really important to calibrate your monitor and I use the inexpensive Pantone Huey and it has worked great. It even reminds you to recalibrate your monitor every few weeks. I am one of those people who need reminders... However, this is a cautionary tale of what happens when you ignore your calibrator.

The last couple of weeks my Pantone has been nagging me to calibrate (you can turn this feature off) but like my kids asking for chocolate before breakfast, I just ignored it... After all, I don't think you really have to calibrate every few weeks anyway, that is overkill, right?

I have noticed the last few weeks that my Photoshop Elements gray background was really dark. So dark I have had issues seeing the top toolbar. I had convinced myself that I accidentally hit something and changed the background color. And once I left the computer I promptly forgot all about it.

I also noticed that photos I had edited a few weeks ago looked a bit dark on my monitor. Most people with an IQ over 20 would start connecting the dots at this point, right? Then I printed out some newly edited photos on my printer and they were really blown out. More obvious clues, but I blamed my printer.

See, I work on the computer during the kid's nap or late at night, so when I am tapping away I am usually exhausted. I sometimes try to get a few things done while the kids are up and running around, and then you can imagine the distractions. So, like all moms, I have so much going on with the kids and life that sometimes I miss the blatantly obvious.

So two days ago I came into the den where my elaborate home office (a built-in desk) is located and I saw Imp using my little Pantone Huey as a gun. Yes, he was "shooting" his brother with it, while doing a finger dance on my computer keyboard. When he saw me he immediately tried to shove the little calibrator back into its holder.

I suddenly had one of those "ah ha" moments. After telling Imp not to mess with Mommy's computer I calibrated my monitor.

OH MY! Suddenly it was bright. I opened up Photoshop Elements and it looked normal and I could actually see my brushes. I flipped through some edits and noticed they looked properly exposed. I then came onto my blog and checked out the photos on the latest posts and surprise, they were too light...

So this cautionary tale ends. If you decide to invest in a calibrator (and you should), it might not hurt to actually use it. :-)


  1. Thanks, Rita! I am going to get one of these. I didn't know which one to get, so thanks for the post.

  2. What kind of computer do you use? I've considered doing this whole calibration thing but I have a Dell laptop that has no way for me to adjust the contrast and such (unless some kinds soul knows more than I do and enlightens me). So I wondered if I should spend the money to get something that probably won't help me. Any input?

  3. OK, OK!! As soon as I get home, I'll recalibrate (my calibrator has been sending me "love messages", too). Thanks for the gentle reminder!

  4. oh my goodness! I may not even he over 20 IQ, I had no clue! Ack, I do my edits, they look fine on screen, they're pretty darn close when I get them back from Costco. My prints at home are "ok" but I was attributing that to a new printer, different brand that I had before??? Not sure what I should do, because I don't do much printing at home? But this is something to definitely consider when sending to labs other than Costco. I suppose I should send some test prints to mpix and whcc?? Thanks for the heads up Rita.

    Just wait till your boys start with the Nerf weapons, ugh!!! Then they quickly progress to air soft!! Darn those little hunter gatherer men ;)

  5. Rita, Do you tweak your calibrator to change the colors(set the color balance numbers) or do you have it do its own calibrating automatically? I have a Spyder Pro and I use its automatic adjustments. I am not familiar with changing things myself.

  6. This might be a stupid question but as of right now I do all my editing on a laptop. Can this be done with laptops too?

  7. My girls are always in my office & it drives me crazy...ugh! They got on my computer & clicked on something & the next thing you know I have a virus! Now my computer has a password & they have to ask permission to go in my office. The office is also my scrap haven..needless to say they like to use my scrapbook stuff too:) lol

  8. i never knew what to buy...thank you for sharing :)

  9. Rita, thank you for everything you do. If you have time
    I wrote about how much I appreciate you :)

    thank you for everything you do.

  10. Thanks Rita! I have been looking for a reasonably priced calibrator for awhile now and had no luck. You ROCK!

  11. Thanks Rita. I have been wanting a calibrator but wasn't sure which one I should get. I have picked up a Huey and can tell the difference in my laptop screen. I always thought it was a bit too bright and I was right! I now realize why some of my images were on the dark side. :)