Printed photos reflect ambient light. This reflected light enters the eye of the beholder and allows them to perceive the image. The light, which is reflected from a paper photograph in bright sunlight outdoors, is different from the light, which is reflected from the same photograph indoors at night. It is problematic that monitors do not reflect the ambient light, but rather radiate light themselves. In practice, this means that differences result in comparisons with printed photographs.

The first step to adjusting the colour is adjusting the ambient light

If the colour rendering on the monitor is to be matched with the paper printouts, the ambient light first needs to be adjusted. The use of fluorescent bulbs with a high CRI value is recommended. Suitable lamps with CRI values of at least 80 are available in electronics stores. The colour rendering index (CRI) is a parameter used to describe the quality of colour rendering in a light source. A value of 100 is equivalent to colour rendering under standard light (natural light or sunlight).

A bulb with a colour temperature of around 5000 K is recommended. Note that the colour temperature of a bulb can deviate from the colour temperature of the fluorescent bulbs used if the bulb has a coating or screen.

Ambient light changes subtly from minute to minute based on changing weather conditions, time of day, and the angle, at which light enters the room. This effect can be minimised with curtains and blinds. We recommend performing the colour matching at night under constant artificial light.

Subject overview

Overview of how ambient light affects printed photos and how you should adjust the ambient light.

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Adjusting the monitor to the lighting conditions

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The correct configuration and display settings and the retouching software, as shown in Adobe Photoshop

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Configuring print settings with the printer driver or colour management system in Adobe Photoshop

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Instructions for configuring print settings with the printer driver or colour management system in Adobe Photoshop

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