Wednesday, March 18, 2009

8 steps to a better computer workspace

Our friend Scott Condray of Visualville offers some sage advice on the best way to set up your system for optimum viewing and color correcting conditions, as well as some tips that can help increase your computer speed. Scott has spent years teaching Photoshop classes, calibrating workstations, and creating printer profiles for output. Suffice it to say, he knows his stuff.
8 Easy Things You Can Do To Improve Your Workplace & Workflow

Making improvements to your “workplace” also improves your "workflow".

The following will improve the quality of the product you produce and make your life a little easier at the same time.

1. Always have your monitor desktop set to a neutral color. Preferably a medium gray. Screen Savers don’t really “save” your monitor. If you are concerned about extending the usable life of your monitor simply turn it off when you are not using it.

2. Consistent subdued lighting in your workplace is a must. Avoid strong directional light whether artificial or natural.

3. Use neutral colors in the workplace. No bright yellow, (red, blue, green, etc.), colored walls. They may look cool but will definitely impact your ability to accurately color adjust images.

4. Wear neutral colored clothing when processing images. Your clothes reflect color onto your monitor screen.

5. Use monitor hoods. Monitor hoods block directional light and help improve the consistent subdued light environment mentioned in step two. In a perfect world, a monitor hood would come with every monitor.

6. Always view your print outputs in the same viewing area. This area should be as close as possible to your monitor. What is the correct light source for your viewing area? In a perfect world you would view your print outputs under the same light source they will be displayed under. Obviously that isn't practical.

A good all around color temperature for a viewing source is 5000 degrees Kelvin. There are several manufacturers who make lamps in this color temperature.

7. If you don’t do anything else on this list, CALIBRATE YOUR MONITOR! Adjusting Images using an uncalibrated monitor is like shooting a film camera without knowing what kind of film you’ve loaded.

As the old Chinese Proverb warns, “ If you don’t know where you're going any road will take you there.”

You can purchase a very accurate Calibration System (Hardware and Software) for about $250. It will pay for itself very quickly.

8. Work on the most powerful workstation you can afford. A powerful computer, properly configured, is the heart of any successful digital workflow.

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