Overly Warm Images after Monitor Calibration

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by 1251division, Dec 13, 2015.


Do you work on a color calibrated monitor for photo post-processing?

  1. Yes

  2. No

  1. 1251division macrumors member

    Oct 8, 2012
    I enjoy viewing the many great photos posted to this site regularly, they serve as great inspiration! I wanted to get the opinion of some of the folks here with experience regarding monitor calibration.

    A little background: I use Lightroom for P.P. I had one of my images printed (a large portrait), and it came out very warm, especially the skin-tones. After some research, I realized I needed to and decided to calibrate my monitor, and this has corrected my prints.

    The before/after of my calibration showed that my iMac 27" default color profile was cool (blueish); and explained why I was over-correcting.

    My issue is now that when I view images like on this forum, I feel they generally do not look as good color-wise as they used to. No offense to anyone, but I feel the more "pro" photographers who regularly post tend to have photos with better color (I don't think this is bias, but it may be). With limited exception, the others photos appear very warm, to the point of looking incorrect. (I've given it about two weeks for my eyes to adjust since making this observation.)

    I'm curious to hear any opinions on this, and also to know how many people have calibrated their monitors?

    edit: I used the ColorMunki Display
  2. Apple fanboy macrumors Penryn

    Apple fanboy

    Feb 21, 2012
    Behind the Lens, UK
    I use an NEC Spectraview monitor with an i1 Display Pro.
    However, that just gives you a neutral starting point. Then as you tweek your sliders in LR to make the photo more pleasing (to your eyes), the image is no longer colour correct.
    Also if many of the posters don't calibrate, then what they are seeing isn't necessarily what you are.
    Glad it sorted out your printing issues. Monitor calibration does for most.
  3. ApfelKuchen macrumors 68030

    Aug 28, 2012
    Between the coasts
    I do not work with a calibrated display. The art director at the publishing house that uses most of my (published) photography does. Being "true" to my color aesthetic isn't as important as how my work looks within the context of the publications' color layout. From there, she needs to be sure that whatever she does on an RGB monitor will look right when printed in CMYK on an offset press in Asia.

    Calibration is an arbitrary process - you have to calibrate to a specific color profile (of which there are many) and the other printer or display must be calibrated to that same profile. As soon as there's a mis-match between profiles, all bets are off.

    I suspect part of what you're encountering is that the profile you're currently using is not the profile others are commonly using. You seem to have assumed that the "more 'pro' photographers" are calibrating, while the rest are not. It could simply be that you are using a different color profile than most others are using. Images prepared using your chosen color profile seem more "professional" to you, because they match your display's profile and/or your aesthetic taste.

    Further, there's the question of whether the photographer has embedded the ICC color profile in their JPG upload, whether your web browser takes that embedded profile into account, and if present, whether the embedded profile is even the profile used for editing the image (it may just be a default)!

    There's another possibility as well, which is that you are simply more attuned to these color differences now than you had been. Your decision to calibrate was based on dissatisfaction with the way your own work was being printed. Prior to holding those prints next to your display, you may simply have accepted everything you viewed with a less critical eye. The entire process of correcting that discrepancy was an education that has likely colored your perception.

    The point of calibration and color profiles is to be able to accurately reproduce the artist's work. You, and only you, are in a position to know what the "correct" color balance is for your images. You were not, and you still are not, aware of what the "correct" color balance is for another artist's work.

    Color accuracy is very difficult to maintain under any circumstances - even if the museum manages to duplicate the lighting conditions present when Van Gogh painted his sunflowers, it has to ensure that the oil paint dyes haven't shifted over time, and be aware that the color output of the museum's ambient lighting changes when the power line voltage fluctuates and the lamps age.... Color accuracy is impossible to control in a situation like the web, where the artist has no control over the audience's viewing conditions (resolution, brightness, and color gamut of display; ambient light...). In situations where we do have some control (say, 4-color offset printing or gallery exhibitions) then it's much easier to be demanding. But on the web? As far as I'm concerned, you have to let it go. Be satisfied that nobody has modified your file during/after upload (heavier compression, narrower color gamut, lower resolution, etc.)
  4. tgara macrumors 6502a


    Jul 17, 2012
    Connecticut, USA
    My 2010 27-inch iMac display also has a blueish cast when set on the default ("iMac") color profile. I have calibrated my display with the SpyderPro from Datacolor. The whites look much better, and combined with ICC profiles for my Canon printer, the prints come out looking just like the (calibrated) monitor.
  5. dwig, Dec 14, 2015
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2015

    dwig macrumors 6502

    Jan 4, 2015
    Key West FL
    Color calibration is not a one-size-fits-all thing. You often need a different calibration for each and every display type/environment.

    If you are trying to proof an image on-screen that will be printed on paper (or canvas, or aluminum, or ...) you may need one calibration for prints that will be displayed in bright daylight lit situations and a different one for prints that will be displayed in a dimmer tungsten (or warm fluorescent or LED that simulate tungsten lighting) lit locations.

    You also need to be sure to convert the image's ICC profile to the appropriate profile for the intended reproduction device (printer, monitor, ...) and embed that profile in the image. When dealing with web based images, you should generally convert to sRGB as some browsers don't support embedded profiles and will either display image the image as using the sRGB profile embedded in the browser or will display the image "wild".
  6. Gav2k macrumors G3


    Jul 24, 2009
    The blue/white tint is what most people seek these days.

    Personally I have my screens calibrated for working on but then I flick to a standard profile set (by eye) that's comfortable for web browsing.
  7. Laird Knox macrumors 68000

    Jun 18, 2010
    Basically you are now calibrated and you will see a better representation to what other calibrated users are seeing. The warming up of images from a non-calibrated work flow that you are now seeing is similar to the issues you were seeing between screen and print. You are looking at those blueish tones with a calibrated monitor. If everybody calibrated their workflow it would be a happy world. ;)

    As an aside, I have had issues when saving sRGB JPEGs. I found that before exporting my images I need to convert to the sRGB color space. Under the edit menu in Photoshop I select "Convert to Profile..." and select sRGB. Don't use "Assign Profile..." Also, don't save your original image after you convert it. Do a save as or export to JPEG. You don't want to be stuck in sRGB all the time. BTW: I edit in the ProPhoto color space.
  8. 1251division thread starter macrumors member

    Oct 8, 2012
    Thank you all, I appreciate your insight and explanations. I like the idea of switching between profiles, depending on usage; but have so far tried to stick to the calibrated display. I like ApfelKuchen's thoughts, as I was half-expecting to be able to "see what you see" with a calibrated display; however as pointed out, in order to do so you better be in the same room--at the same time!

    But yes, I agree that color is subjective, and nuanced. I was hoping to be able to see (and better understand) color decisions made in the same way I can study others choices made regarding level of sharpening, noise reduction, etc. in order to improve my own eye and P.P. skills.

    I also agree this area of interest (color) arose as I'm beginning to shift focus beyond the basics, as they are becoming more well understood (aperture, ISO, shutter speed; technique, composition).

    I'm also spending more time studying how to read light, deal better with 'bad' light, use flash, post process color, and fight gear-acquisition tendencies! It's a slow iterative process, but as with most things in life, it's about the journey. Beyond this, based on your mentions, I plan to read more about embedded color profiles, color space selection/uses, and printer calibrations.

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