Recommended Posts

I have been happily contributing to Alamy for a long time now and (like you) take a lot of time and care when producing images, just recently I thought it would be nice to use the best of my photographic work to decorate my home. After researching prices it seemed like the most cost effective (affordable) method was Photobox, what I got back was generally a quality article but the picture was very dark, now although I realise that Photobox is far from the ultimate in accurate reproduction it's not bad and when I look at there website they state all there printers are RGB calibrated.
Well as a result I thought can you please look at my Alamy images and check they aren't too dark, and secondly do I need to calibrate my monitor as I don't think most people (including the bulk of photographers) do.
I just want to take photos.
Technically speaking my PC monitor is 7 or 8 years old and my PC has an integrated graphics card which is not great and may not be good enough for colorimeters to use.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Use the raw histogram and you will be able to tell for yourself calibration or not. They look generally ok to me. Mid tones look about right. You could maybe stretch some of them (e.g shots of the runners) a little towards the white and give them a bit more contrast but that is a matter of taste. 

 

I do think every photographer should use hardware calibration and invest in monitors that do justice to their images. "Why invest thousands in camera and lenses and then view the images on a substandard piece of kit which is the only place most people see their images nowadays" I shout with a white hanky on my head a la Mr Gumby. 

Edited by MDM

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Tim,

 

Just went through "HELL" with my 7 year-old desktop and a Windows 10 update, but I don't think that is your issue.

For the record Microsoft was great helping me solve the problem (11 hours on the telephone with support).

 

I am currently running or working mostly on an old Dell 8300 that I upgraded from Win 7 (64bit Pro) to Win 10.  I am

also now using a Dell 24 inch UltraSharp monitor and the Dell monitor has never worked great.  I do use  a Spyder 5

for calibration. 

 

After looking at the first page of your images on Alamy I would say that your "Calibration" issue may be from your

Gamma setting?  I did not see a lot of shadow detail.

 

I am certainly no expert on calibration, just my observation.

 

Chuck

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Tim,

Most of the pictures look ok, some are a little dark, such as:

kew-riverfront-west-london-united-kingdo

 

I agree with MDM about investing in cameras and lenses and then perhaps not getting the best outcome by using an older uncalibrated monitor. It's quite easy to do and not too expensive to pick up a colour calibration kit, e.g. X-Rite ColorMunki. Hope this helps.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For optimum results, you may need a profile from them as there are so many variables, printers, inks, papers etc. I am sure calibrating your screen will help - essential maybe. But without knowledge of their equipment, you could be struggling. The profile needs to be applied to your file then checked on your monitor before sending to Photobox. They should be able to send a profile to you.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 minutes ago, Trevor Chriss said:

For optimum results, you may need a profile from them as there are so many variables, printers, inks, papers etc. I am sure calibrating your screen will help - essential maybe. But without knowledge of their equipment, you could be struggling. The profile needs to be applied to your file then checked on your monitor before sending to Photobox. They should be able to send a profile to you.

 

 

Photobox is a consumer lab offering cheap products so I don't think they will be offering proper colour management. I would suggest trying One Vision or Loxley if the OP wants good to excellent results. Both offer initial test prints and colour management all still at very decent prices.

 

I was basing my initial answer on the question of whether the Alamy set were too dark or not. Getting the colour right is another thing altogether and I think hardware calibration is essential for that. 

 

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Tim Ayers said:

I have been happily contributing to Alamy for a long time now and (like you) take a lot of time and care when producing images, just recently I thought it would be nice to use the best of my photographic work to decorate my home. After researching prices it seemed like the most cost effective (affordable) method was Photobox, what I got back was generally a quality article but the picture was very dark, now although I realise that Photobox is far from the ultimate in accurate reproduction it's not bad and when I look at there website they state all there printers are RGB calibrated.
Well as a result I thought can you please look at my Alamy images and check they aren't too dark, and secondly do I need to calibrate my monitor as I don't think most people (including the bulk of photographers) do.
I just want to take photos.
Technically speaking my PC monitor is 7 or 8 years old and my PC has an integrated graphics card which is not great and may not be good enough for colorimeters to use.

 

The first runner, I bumped up the exposure by 1/2 a stop without clipping the highlights

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Tim Ayers said:

I have been happily contributing to Alamy for a long time now and (like you) take a lot of time and care when producing images, just recently I thought it would be nice to use the best of my photographic work to decorate my home. After researching prices it seemed like the most cost effective (affordable) method was Photobox, what I got back was generally a quality article but the picture was very dark, now although I realise that Photobox is far from the ultimate in accurate reproduction it's not bad and when I look at there website they state all there printers are RGB calibrated.
Well as a result I thought can you please look at my Alamy images and check they aren't too dark, and secondly do I need to calibrate my monitor as I don't think most people (including the bulk of photographers) do.
I just want to take photos.
Technically speaking my PC monitor is 7 or 8 years old and my PC has an integrated graphics card which is not great and may not be good enough for colorimeters to use.

With all due respect, if you're serious about your photography you should be paying attention to your monitor calibration and set up a properly colour-managed workflow (lots of info online). I think you'll find that very few professional photographers neglect this.  As others suggest, Colormunki is an economical way to get started.

 

Alex

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, MDM said:

I was basing my initial answer on the question of whether the Alamy set were too dark or not. Getting the colour right is another thing altogether and I think hardware calibration is essential for that. 

I quite agree monitor calibration is a must.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for all your replies

It seems that I should be involved in colour calibration to some extent or other, so I'll not waste anytime

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, Alex Ramsay said:

With all due respect, if you're serious about your photography you should be paying attention to your monitor calibration and set up a properly colour-managed workflow (lots of info online). I think you'll find that very few professional photographers neglect this.  As others suggest, Colormunki is an economical way to get started.

 

Alex

 

I bought Colormunki last year. It was a good investment, and the price is right.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have used Photobox for my photobooks for around 12 years. They are very good value for money. One thing however they CANNOT do by their own admission is print pure WHITE on WHITE. If you send them images with a white border / surround such as cutouts (RGB 255 all the way round), it will not blend invisibly with their white paper. Either their paper is whiter than white or they can't print white ...

 

I would definitely calibrate your monitor, but only if it's a decent one. There is no point calibrating a poor monitor. The best £250 I ever spent was on my current HP LP2475w 24" monitor. I've had it for 10 years and it's still going strong after 13,400 backlight hours. That works out at 3-4 hours a day, every day, for 10 years, which is about right. Not many monitors in this price range will last that many backlight hours. I use the next generation HP monitors at work and they are just as good. And no I don't work for or am connected in any way to Hewlett-Packard ...

 

Most of your images look ok to me, but some need adjustment. Make sure your histogram touches on the left AND the right so you are just under pure black and pure white.

 

If you are going to calibrate your monitor, the biggest dilemma will be picking your gamma. If the images are going to be displayed on a monitor or the Internet, use gamma 2.2. If they're going to be printed you probably need to use gamma 1.8 (most professional printers / typesetters use 1.8)

 

Here is an excellent article on gamma settings : http://www.photoscientia.co.uk/Gamma.htm

 

Marc

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 07/12/2017 at 00:01, famousbelgian said:

 

 

If you are going to calibrate your monitor, the biggest dilemma will be picking your gamma. If the images are going to be displayed on a monitor or the Internet, use gamma 2.2. If they're going to be printed you probably need to use gamma 1.8 (most professional printers / typesetters use 1.8)

 

 

 

That is pretty ancient advice - not 21st century. It used to be that Macs had a gamma set around 1.8 and PCs around 2.2 but that was a long time ago. The reference you give looks like it was written in the early days of the web. Nobody uses gamma 1.8 nowadays for photography. The standard is 2.2 across the board. Native gamma of 2.2 is what most people use now with modern LCD or LED screens.  I don't know of any professional photographic printing lab that suggests using a gamma of 1.8. If you want a really authoritative modern reference, try reading Martin Evening or Jeff Schewe. Martin Evening says that the Mac Gamma 1.8 is effectively dead and should be considered ancient history. 

 

 

Edited by MDM

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
12 hours ago, Chuck Nacke said:

Tim,

 

After looking at the first page of your images on Alamy I would say that your "Calibration" issue may be from your

Gamma setting?  I did not see a lot of shadow detail.

 

I am certainly no expert on calibration, just my observation.

 

Chuck

 

Tim,

I took a look at your photos and got through to about page 6 or so.  Many do look underexposed or too dark to me.  Alamy says to calibrate your monitor to a Luminance (some refer to it as Gamma or Brightness) level of 100 through your calibration software. (not to be confused with the white point which is usually set to 2.2 as MDM stated).  Most current day monitors ship from the factory at a Luminance level of about 120 or higher because the manufacturers have done research and the general public seems to like bright pictures on their computer screens.  This is not good when printing from an uncalibrated monitor.  If the Luminance level of your monitor is 120 or higher, your images will look fine to you.

 

This may sound very confusing but if you purchase a reasonably good calibration tool/software, such as Colormunki or others, they do pretty much all the work.  You will be asked for your preferences however so be ready to refer to Google or the like.  

 

Rick

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
23 hours ago, MDM said:

 

Photobox is a consumer lab offering cheap products so I don't think they will be offering proper colour management. I would suggest trying One Vision or Loxley if the OP wants good to excellent results. Both offer initial test prints and colour management all still at very decent prices.

 

I was basing my initial answer on the question of whether the Alamy set were too dark or not. Getting the colour right is another thing altogether and I think hardware calibration is essential for that. 

 

 

 

 

 

Last time I used Photobox I was disappointed with the product - too dark and poor generally. I have used Art.com recently for a largish print and I’m very happy with that. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Looking at a few pages of your Alamy offerings, I would say they look a little dark to me, but some photographers just like it that way. A really simple real world calibration is to ask a couple of friends to let you take a peek at your Alamy images on their computers. Or try a couple of images on another print supplier. One which offers a test print would be good.

 

I remember an impasse with my lab a good few years back when I was trying to organise a modest exhibition. I had selected a bunch of transparencies on my professional quality lightbox. They hand printed them up to about 12x18 in on the R4 process. They looked dreadful and all they could say was that I was looking at the images as transmitted light and they could not replicate that as prints.Not Helpful! So I went for internegs through a different lab which gave more control and the exhibition looked OK and I even sold quite a few. Your situation is not entirely different, on your monitor you are looking at a back-lit image while your finished print is on paper and even then, the paper used can make a difference

Edited by Robert M Estall

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Tim, I wouldn't base any calibration issues on Photobox results, we've found them to be poor. Just a small step up from Boots really. We use Loxley Colour for all client work & find them to be excellent.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now