So often I hear of photographers, both pros and hobbyists , whose pictures live only on hard drives and online. If this is you, it’s time to get printing! As photographers we spend countless hours in front of our computers editing our work to create dynamic imagery that reflects us as artists. Every level adjustment and brush stroke is an artistic choice made to emphasize our vision. For this reason, it is vital to work with a color calibrated system which produces accurate color and contrast during printing and instills confidence when transferring images off-site. Here is an abbreviated lesson on how to painlessly calibrate your monitor and printer in under an hour.
Step 1: Download the ColorMunki Software.
Step 2: Plug in the ColorMunki and open the software if it doesn’t open automatically.
Step 3: For accurate precision profiling, measure the ambient light of the room by turning the rotary dial on the side of the unit to position C (third notch from the top). Place the ColorMunki next to your display and choose ‘calibrate’ on screen or by clicking the measure button on the side of the unit (the only button that can be clicked). It should take less than 1 minute to optimize the luminance of the display.
Tip: Computer monitors display colors best in low light. Keep it low while judging color and eliminate any illuminating objects that may surround the monitor.
Step 4: Once the software tells you the ambient light has been measured, choose ‘Match My Printer to My Display’. Turn the dial of the unit to position D (fourth and last notch at the bottom) which puts it Instrument Calibration Mode. Put the ColorMunki inside its soft case and click next on the screen.
Tip: Color is device-dependent and different devices will display colors differently; try to calibrate your monitor and printer together for the best color accuracy. If you do not have a printer of your own and send files to be printed online or locally, you can calibrate your monitor by choosing the ‘Profile My Display’.
Step 5: Drape the unit over the monitor and place the unit within the yellow box you see on-screen. Follow the directions outlined on the screen to begin calibration.
Tip: Make sure the window is open on the bottom of the soft case to allow the ColorMunki to measure the screen.
Step 6: After ColorMunki finishes running the calibration test and returns to the software step-by-step guide, print the first color target.
Step 7: Turn the dial to position D (fourth and last notch at the bottom) and unlock the “target flag” using the small black button at the bottom right of the unit.
Step 8: Run the unit across rows number 1-5 on the printed target. Only proceed to the next row once the yellow highlight indicating which row you are measuring advances to the next on the screen.
Tip: Face the curved part of the unit forward and push the unit across the row smoothly within 12 seconds. Start measuring on the white position of the paper and finish on the white portion of the paper.
Step 9: Once the software confirms it has measured rows 1-5, proceed by hitting “next” on the screen and print the second target sheet. Repeat step #7.
Step 10: Name your profile and include the date and paper type and save. The more color critical your work is the more often you should calibrate.
Tip: Setup a reminder to occasionally check your monitor’s calibration and make sure it has not fallen out of accuracy. Perception is greatly influenced by the colors around what we are looking at. Give yourself some time to adjust to the new color of your monitor.
You’re done! Have fun looking at the “before and after” of the calibrated monitor on the finished screen.