Room Lighting Tips and Tools for Accurate Color


While most people think we’ve left the era of film photographers developing photographs in a dark room, in some ways, digital production is no different. There are many key elements to consider with your room lighting in order to achieve the color and print results (if relevant) for design and photography. Hint: this isn’t just for work-from-home types!

Bulbs: Color Temperature

To get accurate whites, you’ll want to use lighting as close to natural daylight as possible. Choose 5000K bulbs or “daylight bulbs.” I recommend LED Bulbs, which have no flicker, no mercury, and last a lifetime. I use a desk lamp with these type of bulbs and it works great.

Lighting Location and Glare

While overhead lighting can be great for other tasks, ambient lighting is better for reducing glare and for maintaining even lighting on your monitor. Many designers and photographers like myself prefer to work in dim to dark lit rooms to maintain a color-accurate environment. I also find the lack of overhead lighting reduces my eye fatigue. If you do have lamps, place them behind your screen or further away from the screen. Stuck in an open office? Pull out the overhead CFLs and use a monitor hood.

Calibrate Your Monitor

Especially important for matching screen to prints, you’ll want to calibrate your monitor frequently. Use online tools like the Lagom Monitor Test, or just use the built-in tools in Windows and Max OS X. For even more accurate adjustments and dynamic changes (like ambient room lighting changes), use a device like a Spyder4Pro.