Image Editing & Screen Brightness.

Are you seeing what I want you to see, and am I seeing your images the way you want me to see them?

By this I don’t mean are you getting the story I want to convey or am I getting the meaning of an image that you or any other photographer wants to portray?

I am referring to the actual likeness of the image.

If an image is in a gallery, the photographer has taken time to print this in a way that they are happy with. I assume they deal with lighting and consider the amount of ambient light within the environment of their display? We, the viewer do not really get a choice, the image is there, thats how the photographer has developed it, thats the available light, that is how you are looking at it, its the photographers decision, full stop!

Recently I have had some comments about exposure on a couple of my images. Just here and there on different photo-sharing sites. Its great to get feedback, its bloody useful to get feed back. In fact it is an essential learning tool.

Now here is my problem, well its more of a query or a thought process than a problem. To be honest this post is really just me thinking out aloud. Although I would really like to hear peoples opinions.

On a computer monitor or laptop screen our images are backlit, we will all have slight variations in colour calibrations and so on. Ignore every variable apart from our screens being backlit.

I was wondering if I view your images on the internet, will I be seeing the image as you intended if my screens brightness is turned high or low.

So, I’m thinking to myself, if people think a couple of my images look under exposed but look acceptable to me, is that personal preference or is there something else going on? Something I can change? Something I am doing with my processing or something to do with the way they are viewed on your screen?

Curiosity started to hurt the old brain box and I did a little experiment.

I took screen shots of the same image with my screen brightness at a third, half, three quarters and full.

Here are the results…..

Screen Shot 2014-08-11 at 11.27.26Screen Shot 2014-08-11 at 11.28.33Screen Shot 2014-08-11 at 11.28.19Screen Shot 2014-08-11 at 11.27.57

Can you tell the difference? Neither can I.
You may have expected to see these results, you may have done something similar, you may be a computer nerd that chuckled at the very thought of me thinking I might see some variation in the images. I would like to think that one, two or a handful of people, like me, would have expected to see some differences, be they minor or very notable.
The feed back on my images that I have had is valued but I had thought some of it was due to personal taste, much in the way that some like black and white, some like noir, some like high contrast. But my experiment adds more validity to the feed back I have had.

It must therefore be me and my actions at home. So, I took the same image and made adjustments with my screen set at different brightness levels. I was expecting to see a difference here but after my previous experiment with the screen shots I was not so sure how much the images would differ. The answer is that the images actually varied considerably.

If you get a chance, have time or are just interested please view the images with the brightness of your screen low and slowly take it to full brightness.


I’m thinking that maybe I should always try to do my editing in dim lighting with my screen set at half brightness.
Probably common sense and something most people would have figured out very quickly. None the less, I learn by doing and it was useful for me to go through this. As normal, I am making a note of where I’m at with my photography and how I got here.
You never know someone else may have found it useful too?
Tips, examples, comments and links to useful articles are most welcome.
Kind regards,
Jim Jimmy James.

One comment

  1. I have never tried any of this stuff Jimmy, so I was interested in the whole idea. I saw no difference in the first four, and a marked difference in the second selection, as you pointed out. I am no expert in computers, it’s all I can do to turn it on, and do my blog. I have a basic Dell monitor that generally provides pleasant results at normal settings.
    Trying to view anything darker or brighter just ends up with exactly that, a dark or bright screen. It doesn’t appear to affect the exposure of your photos at all, so maybe that’s just me?
    I can see that you are still working hard to improve though, and applaud you for that.
    Best wishes as always, Pete.

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