By Andrew Evans
With the proliferation of Digital SLR camera's available on the consumer market at good prices these days, more and more people are post processing their images on a computer. The term for this is commonly known as the Digital Darkroom. Many DSLR users, have began to explore the benefits of RAW imagery and how powerful software such as Photoshop can be at manipulating this data.
However, out of painful personal experience an old saying is applicable here and that is "Garbage in = Garbage out". With this phrase, I am not talking about the actual quality of the image that you may be starting with as this may be a means to an end, but the quality of the computer equipment you are using to work on the images. In particular your display.
Regardless of what tweaks you make to an image with whatever software, you can only judge the result by what is displaying on the display be it CRT or LCD in front of you. What happens if the colours are not set correctly or the contrast is out of whack on the image? Your eyes are going to judge your post processing results on what they see in front of them; not what the histogram is telling them. To other people, when they view your images or even print them the results will not be correct and this will reflect badly on your skills and your reputation. Sadly, this can all be caused by one piece of equipment.
It is therefore extremely important to make sure that you have calibrated the colours and contrast of your display precisely so that you can be confident that "what you see is what you get". The process of calibration is complex should one attempt this manually however, there are a number of devices on the web offering different feature sets for different needs which; when attached to your computer and monitor will automatically convert the settings of the your display to be correct.
The price of these devices varies from around £50 to £300+; so shop around but I cannot stress enough; if you are serious about your photo's then this is a must for any photographer!