Calibrating Your Monitor

I learned an important lesson this weekend. 

When you buy a monitor calibrator, you should probably USE it on all of your monitors.

See, I bring my laptop with me to most weddings and if the reception dinner is on the longer side, I usually have time to whip up a few previews for the couple right then and there. They ooh and ahh, as is appropriate, and everyone is happy. 

I also like to share one shot online so that everyone can congratulate the happy couple and they get at least one professional image to share right off the bat. 

Well, I had never thought about calibrating my new Macbook, so when I woke up Sunday morning and visited Facebook on my phone, I was shocked to see what I had posted the night before. My image was extra-saturated and extra-orange. To be technical about it. I wasn't about to remove it when everyone had already liked and commented. The damage WAS DONE. 

Now, I'm not saying this image looked horrible. To me, it just wasn't my typical style and I was frustrated I'd put something out into the world that didn't feel like a true representation of my work.

So this morning I whipped out my Spyder 4 Pro and set it up on my laptop. Calibrating your monitor doesn't take long. You just hold it up to your screen as it scans through different colors. Then it adjusts everything automatically. I don't know if they all work this way, but mine shows you a fun before/after that you can play with when it's all done. 

Once my screen was all set up, I decided to go back and edit that picture from scratch and see what the difference looked like.

The first one is the original, uncalibrated image. The second is the re-edited version with a calibrated display. I still like them both, but the second one is more subtle in its dreamy sunset colors and I think it lets the couple stand out more.

Calibrating your monitor is especially important if you're planning to print the photos you edit. When I first calibrated my desktop, I ordered prints from my professional lab to make sure they looked exactly like they did on my screen. This is part of why it's so beneficial to order your prints through your photographer's lab. That's where we do testing to make sure you're getting accurate colors! I did a print test last winter to show what can happen if you order through other labs. 

What do you think? Is calibrating your monitor worth it? I was pretty surprised at how expensive the calibrators are, but for me it's a no-brainer, just another cost of doing business. You know, except for when it's midnight after a wedding and I feel like posting photos willy nilly all over Facebook ;)