One thing that I have always disliked about Digital Photography is the lack of prints that I have made (personal prints). When Digital first came out, I thought, ‘Great! Now I won’t have 35 bad prints to throw away and keep the one that I like.’ Since time marches on, I find now that I make much better exposures that I keep way too many pictures. Some of them are beautiful and never see the light of day because they are tucked away in a folder on a hard drive.
This past year I have been printing on my Epson R2400 more and more of my own work along with the work of my clients. When I send images of to my lab they do an an amazing job getting everything to look just right. When I started printing my own images, I became frustrated because the pictures were always too dark or lacked the pop that I was seeing on my screen.
After talking with a good friend of mine, we discovered that my screen (24″ iMac) was just way too bright and in order to get an accurate print representation on the screen, that brightness had to come down. Like WAAAAAYYY Down. Well I tried and tried, calibrated my monitor multiple times and there was just no way to get my screen darker. I had turned the brightness all the way down and it was still too bright when reading the ideal brightness level using my screen calibrator.
I then thought I had to buy an external monitor to make things right. Before I did this, I did a little research and discovered that it is an issue for many people.
Upon reading some issues from other users, I discovered a free application called Shades. Without getting too technical, it basically puts a faux brightness control on your desktop for you to adjust the brightness down. It puts a colored layer (default black) over your screen and the slider adjusts the opacity of the darkness. Very cool. I was concerned that it would not be very accurate, but low and behold my self made prints have never looked so nice!
So if you are using an iMac and printing on your own or your prints from the lab are coming back too dark, Get some Shades for your Mac!