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Author Topic: White backgnd to compensate for bright display?  (Read 9363 times)
eleanorbrown
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« Reply #20 on: December 19, 2008, 08:55:04 PM »
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Ther person in question that mentioned using white as background was me and, yes in many cases it works well for me.  I work on an apple 30 inch display carefully calibrated  using Coloreyes Display Pro to a L value of about 115.  This gives me a good working luminance and very accurate grayscale.  The purpose of the white background is that I can very quickly determine what my highlights are going to look like on paper white and see how far I can push my highlight values without blowing out any areas.  I have a history in large and medium format film and extensive experience in printing.....  While I'm completely converted to digital these days, I'm not opposed to trying something that doesn't necessarily "go by the digital imaging book" as long as I get excellent results.  Having a white background also lets me with a quick glance check the neutrality of the image in question especially in the highlights.  We need not get to 'left brained" here.  If something works, go for it.  Eleanor

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Purely a guess, but if the background is white and there's enough of it, then it would make the white of the image less apparently white to the eye (since your brain will be balanced on the whiter-white) which may help to simulate paper-white in some way.  Also, if there is simply more light coming from the monitor (due to the white instead of grey) then your pupil may be further constricted which would have the effect of reducing the apparent brightness of the image on the screen - perhaps making it more similar to the printer's output on paper.

To me, though, I have to admit it sounds an awful lot like the squinting called for when using Adobe Gamma and thus not a great idea.  That said, if it's workign for someone then that's a good thing!
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Jonathan Wienke
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« Reply #21 on: December 19, 2008, 10:29:26 PM »
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Quote from: eleanorbrown
While I'm completely converted to digital these days, I'm not opposed to trying something that doesn't necessarily "go by the digital imaging book" as long as I get excellent results.

The problem with that "logic" is that while deviating from "the book" may work fine for you with your particular set of hardware, it probably will not work very well for others who don't have an exact replica of your equipment and configuration. This is one of the main reasons people have so many problems with color management--you can do all kinds of stupid things and given a specific combination and configuration of hardware, they may not cause any obvious problems. But when others try to do the exact same thing, they will have all kinds of problems.

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Having a white background also lets me with a quick glance check the neutrality of the image in question especially in the highlights.  We need not get to 'left brained" here.  If something works, go for it.  Eleanor

Again, while this may work for you and your particular hardware, it is not something you should recommend as general advice. Most devices are the most inaccurate in the brightest highlights and deepest shadows, and using the brightest white your monitor can display as your neutral reference is usually a recipe for trouble. If something isn't recommended by the experts, there's usually a very good reason why. Just because you can get away with something foolish doesn't mean your experience will benefit others.
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Mark D Segal
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« Reply #22 on: December 19, 2008, 10:44:43 PM »
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Jonathan - you never disappoint - no diplomatic doubletalk here - just the straight goods, eh?  
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
Author: "Scanning Workflows with SilverFast 8....." http://www.luminous-landscape.com/reviews/film/scanning_workflows_with_silverfast_8.shtml
teddillard
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« Reply #23 on: December 20, 2008, 06:00:57 AM »
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Quote from: MarkDS
Jonathan - you never disappoint - no diplomatic doubletalk here - just the straight goods, eh?  

I love this guy...    

Yeah, Mark we have beat this to death I guess, sorry, but I just have a little more to add...  As a "Digital Imaging Specialist" at a couple of places for more than a few years I've heard this kind of question over and over... and the answer is very, very simple.  Get a good display, and calibrate it.  

For every person who's come to me with issues, I've heard some new form of creative workaround.  My answer is simple and straightforward.  Get the right tools, and set them up correctly, and move on (so we all can, too... ) I will also add that I have never, not yet anyway, had anyone come back to me and say that they made a mistake taking this advice.  

The other thing that gets me going on this is, for all the issues in color management, this is the simplest and easiest to solve.  

OMG I just remembered these two old coots from MIT who walked in all full of attitude who I had to hammer and hammer on about setting up a good display rather than trying to make a POS display do something it couldn't...  perfect mix of tight-fisted Yankee who didn't want to part with a buck and arrogant engineers.     2 months later the guy walks in with his jaw all tight and fists clenched and I'm like, oh crap, here we go.  He was coming in to thank me!  Practically offered me his first borne, he did...  

OK, sitting down now...  
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Ted Dillard
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« Reply #24 on: December 20, 2008, 08:03:49 AM »
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I also learned this little "trick" of using a white background in PS to evaluate overall image brightness in preparing a file for print from Joe Holmes. He suggested it as a soft proofing technique. He was certainly not suggesting it as a substitute for a properly calibrated and profiled monitor! His advice has proven invaluable for me in my workflow. My prints were often too dark relative to what I was seeing on my monitor, and this has solved the problem. There are probably two reasons. First, my prints are mounted with a white mat. The perceived brightness of a color varies depending upon the brightness of the background against which you view it. We perceive brightness on a comparative basis. A print viewed against a darker background will look overall brighter than the exact same print viewed against a white background. Second, my monitor is set to 120 cdm, the recommended level for work destined for print. It's probably still too bright for effectively evaluating files for print, but anything lower is either not practical or looks so lousy for all other purposes that no one wants to do it.
BTW, my impression was that Joe Holmes did not view this advice to me as a "trick", but rather as a "best practice." In my case, he suggested it before he had any idea that I had issues with my prints being too dark.

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Mark D Segal
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« Reply #25 on: December 20, 2008, 08:16:15 AM »
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Quote from: hcubell
Second, my monitor is set to 120 cdm, the recommended level for work destined for print.

As mentioned elsewhere in this thread, there is no such thing as "THE recommended level for work destined for print". There is an operationally useful range depending on the kind of paper you are printing with and perhaps more importantly, the ambient illumination in which you are working. Everyone should run tests to determine which luminance value works best in their conditions.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
Author: "Scanning Workflows with SilverFast 8....." http://www.luminous-landscape.com/reviews/film/scanning_workflows_with_silverfast_8.shtml
hcubell
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« Reply #26 on: December 20, 2008, 09:20:00 AM »
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Quote from: MarkDS
As mentioned elsewhere in this thread, there is no such thing as "THE recommended level for work destined for print". There is an operationally useful range depending on the kind of paper you are printing with and perhaps more importantly, the ambient illumination in which you are working. Everyone should run tests to determine which luminance value works best in their conditions.

I was not clear in that respect. The 120 cdm number I mentioned was a specific recommendation for my monitor, the NEC 2690wuxi, from a number of sources. Depending upon your viewing conditions, another number may be "better". I tried lower numbers and they did not work for me.
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eleanorbrown
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« Reply #27 on: December 20, 2008, 10:14:42 AM »
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Thank you.....Your post (below) echos very well the point I was trying to get across also.  A white background can quickly show me issues about my image file destined for print (white paper, white mat) that a dark background won't.  I have my mouse set so I can cycle from white to middle gray back to white, back to gray, etc. with a push of a mouse button.  I never "tell" people what to do, I only say what works for me under what circumstances.  I don't teach color management nor do I do commercial work.  I'm an artist first and I feel if I need to bend the "rules" that's my right.  If it works for me that means someone else might benefit, so that's why I mention it.  Apparently it works for Joseph Holmes too. Eleanor

Quote from: hcubell
I also learned this little "trick" of using a white background in PS to evaluate overall image brightness in preparing a file for print from Joe Holmes. He suggested it as a soft proofing technique. He was certainly not suggesting it as a substitute for a properly calibrated and profiled monitor! His advice has proven invaluable for me in my workflow. My prints were often too dark relative to what I was seeing on my monitor, and this has solved the problem. There are probably two reasons. First, my prints are mounted with a white mat. The perceived brightness of a color varies depending upon the brightness of the background against which you view it. We perceive brightness on a comparative basis. A print viewed against a darker background will look overall brighter than the exact same print viewed against a white background. Second, my monitor is set to 120 cdm, the recommended level for work destined for print. It's probably still too bright for effectively evaluating files for print, but anything lower is either not practical or looks so lousy for all other purposes that no one wants to do it.
BTW, my impression was that Joe Holmes did not view this advice to me as a "trick", but rather as a "best practice." In my case, he suggested it before he had any idea that I had issues with my prints being too dark.
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Jonathan Wienke
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« Reply #28 on: December 20, 2008, 10:25:55 AM »
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Quote from: hcubell
His advice has proven invaluable for me in my workflow. My prints were often too dark relative to what I was seeing on my monitor, and this has solved the problem. There are probably two reasons. First, my prints are mounted with a white mat. The perceived brightness of a color varies depending upon the brightness of the background against which you view it. We perceive brightness on a comparative basis. A print viewed against a darker background will look overall brighter than the exact same print viewed against a white background.

Ambient lighting conditions have a much greater effect on perceived monitor image brightness than mat color, which is why you are much better off adjusting the ambient lighting level (which gives you far more control over your print/monitor luminance matching) rather than tweaking background color on-screen.

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Second, my monitor is set to 120 cdm, the recommended level for work destined for print. It's probably still too bright for effectively evaluating files for print, but anything lower is either not practical or looks so lousy for all other purposes that no one wants to do it.

There is no universally-accepted best value for monitor luminance. The optimal value depends on ambient lighting conditions and the capabilities of a given monitor. 120 cd/m is a fairly common average, but is not an ironclad value you must achieve for best results.
« Last Edit: December 20, 2008, 10:29:26 AM by Jonathan Wienke » Logged

Ben08
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« Reply #29 on: January 07, 2009, 04:24:25 PM »
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I agree with Eleanor and hcubell that using a white background is one of many useful tools for working with images on screen. It's not a "work around" or substitute for proper display profiles etc. When I learned fine black and white printing in college one of the useful tools we used was to have a strip of photo paper handy which had been processed but not exposed (also a strip processed which had been fully exposed for max black) , so we would have a white frame of reference for the maximum white possible for the paper we were printing on. This could be held next to a print in the tray to help evaluate the highlight areas. Working on a computer screen I often have found that there is no pure white on the screen to compare to, leading me think images are lighter than they really are. (Software backgrounds, window borders etc often seem to be pure white but really aren't.) Using a white crop around my images in Capture One in my daily work flow has shown me that I was often about a half stop underexposed before- and yes I know how to read a histogram, but photography is a visual art, requiring us to make some judgements on visual basis. --Ben
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teddillard
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« Reply #30 on: January 12, 2009, 08:46:41 AM »
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Quote from: Ben08
I agree with Eleanor and hcubell that using a white background is one of many useful tools for working with images on screen. It's not a "work around" or substitute for proper display profiles etc. When I learned fine black and white printing in college one of the useful tools we used was to have a strip of photo paper handy which had been processed but not exposed (also a strip processed which had been fully exposed for max black) , so we would have a white frame of reference for the maximum white possible for the paper we were printing on. This could be held next to a print in the tray to help evaluate the highlight areas. Working on a computer screen I often have found that there is no pure white on the screen to compare to, leading me think images are lighter than they really are. (Software backgrounds, window borders etc often seem to be pure white but really aren't.) Using a white crop around my images in Capture One in my daily work flow has shown me that I was often about a half stop underexposed before- and yes I know how to read a histogram, but photography is a visual art, requiring us to make some judgements on visual basis. --Ben

Interesting point, Ben, and very much to the point of some of my work I've been doing lately.  This definitely speaks to how I worked in the darkroom as well, and the fact that I print, keep on my desktop, and use constantly a 0-255 step wedge to "see" pure black, pure white, and how my printer renders the ramp (especially very close to the margins- from 0-25, and from 245-255).  

FYI, help yourself to that here...  http://www.teddillard.com/graphics/step.jpg

Thanks!

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Ted Dillard
Ben08
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« Reply #31 on: January 13, 2009, 03:50:26 PM »
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Cool! Thanks Ted! --Ben
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