Monday, November 23, 2009

Why don’t digital prints look the same as they do on my monitor? It happens most of the time, you check your pictures before clicking on the print button and yet when they come out, it shows slightly different colors than the ones you initially saw in your monitor. One explanation to this is Metamerism. It occurs when colors change when viewed in different light sources.
Metamerism is a phenomenon which is defined as “two samples which match when illuminated by a particular light source and then does not match when illuminated by a different light source. It is a source of great frustration to the printing industry and is perceived as a negative characteristic of color and not having it would eliminate reproduction problems. What we see in the monitor is emitted light while we use reflected light to view a print out. The nature of both types of light makes color consistency a bit of a challenge. Also, Printers and Monitors produce colors very differently and add to that, photo papers are also different from each other.
In addition, each digital device speaks a different dialect although they may speak the same language which is color. But the language of colors comes in different dialects and is different from each other—RGB varies largely from CMYK. In differing dialects, a similar word may have a slightly different meaning. Likewise, the pure red of one device may not be the same red of another device.
Light has a tendency to bounce off walls and other surfaces and when that happens, it reflects the color of the surface it just bounced off from. If the walls of the room are bright red, then chances are you will have a red cast thrown about the room. If you are working on the computer and are wearing a bright yellow shirt, chances are, some of the yellow will bounce on the monitor’s glass screen.
Because of metamerism, it is impossible to generate a color reproduction that can match under every light source.
There are still ways of reducing this effect though. Color management is a system that can be used to communicate color accurately and efficiently with each other. As mentioned earlier, different devices speak a different dialect and using color management, a sort of interpretation process occurs so that each device understands what the other device wants to say.
Solving the problem with monitor to print matching lies with color managing your system. You may also need to optimize your editing and viewing environment by calibrating. There’s also a need to create a printer profile and preview your images using the printer profiles created.
You should also optimize your viewing light. Select only one light source. Some places may have a mix of light sources: incandescent and fluorescent on at the same time. Only one type of light should be used. Ideally, filtered sunlight through the window would be the best but its intensity and color temperature cannot be controlled. Also, control your working environment by avoiding colored walls or curtains in your work area.
In doing these, we should get relatively accurate color matches between our monitor and prints but do not over expect as well as one cannot really get an absolutely perfect match—as the goal is to come as close as possible.
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