Q & A : Do the room conditions where I edit matter?

To ask a question of The Photo Video Guy, email your question to ross@thephotovideoguy.ca Denis wants to know if the lighting and configuration of the room where you edit your images matters.

Absolutely it does, and many people operate under the mistaken perception that it doesn't.  Let's see how to optimize for editing.

I'm going to assume that your display is calibrated.  If not, stop reading and go get a Color Munki Smile.  It's ok, we'll wait.  Ok that's better.

  1. Your calibrated display should be the brightest thing in the room
  2. If there are pot or spotlights in the room, they should be off
  3. If there are other lights in the room, and you cannot turn them down, they should be daylight balanced.  Remember that manufacturers are frequently marketing, not being accurate, so you want lights set for 5500K.  Your "cool white" fluorescents are about 4300K and lousy for editing
  4. Any lights on in the room should be behind the display.  Avoid light falling on the display.  Because better colour management devices read the average lux level in the room as part of the calibration DOES NOT mean that you can or should have light falling on the screen
  5. In the best possible case, your walls are painted neutral grey, not white or coloured or black or covered in flock wallpaper from 1969.  I get that this is often the toughest part so that's why you want the room to be dim, so colours being reflected off stuff do not impact your editing
  6. Lastly don't believe everything you read on the social nets.  As hard as it may be to believe, there are people writing blogs, or articles, or recording videos who think that they know what they are talking about and actually are just regurgitating some unverified crap that they heard from someone else.  Shocking I know.

Light operates by the laws of physics.  Human eyes are amazing, nearly magical entities that effortlessly compensate for excreable conditions .  Screens and paper, not so much.

Thanks Denis for writing.  Hope this helps.