Digital Workspace Lighting

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Defining the Digital Workspace Needs

Digital imaging requires different preparations to get accurate color from any output device.

  • Graphics monitors for full color range.
  • Color calibration for all monitors, printers, scanners and other output devices.
  • A good color management system for digital workflow.
  • Color correct workspace lighting for viewing and working on digital images.

Combining all of these preparations produces images with the highest quality color and tone reproductions. Having a well-defined workspace with all color calibrations and modifications helps the designer/imager work more efficiently and with less eyestrain**.**

Define the Workspace Area

The quality of imaging work is greatly affected by lighting conditions. A great deal of time is spent on color calibration and color workflow, but the room lighting is often neglected. Most digital imaging workspaces have multiple lighting sources flowing into the actual imaging area. Even with monitor calibration adjusted to ambient lighting conditions, there will be some fall off because of the varied lighting sources.

The first step in setting up proper workspace lighting is to define the workspace area. Where are the monitors and other key digital imaging processes taking place. Once this is determined, the room lighting can be changed to accommodate the imaging process. The proper workspace flow should follow a logical system set up.

  1. Monitors and imaging stations should be located in one section.
  2. Print viewing stations can be set adjacent to the workstations.
  3. Extra desk/work areas can be placed next to the imaging stations.

This U-shaped work area maximizes the room space and is easier for the digital imager to maneuver around. This set up also allows the lighting to be contained and directed to a specific area.

Proper Lighting Conditions

So, what are the proper lighting conditions? For image editing and/or viewing of prints the proper lighting conditions are as follows:

  1. Ambient light should be D50 or daylight temperature.
  2. Ambient illuminance near the graphics monitor should be around 64 to 32 Lux. (This can be measured using an EyeOne Puck or lux meter)
  3. Monitor white point should be D65
  4. Monitor illuminace should be 75 to 100 cd/m^2 (Monitor white point and illuminace can be set in calibration, see this calibration article for more information on monitor calibrations)
  5. External light, tungsten light and other extraneous lights should be kept away from the print viewing area. Prints should be viewed in lighting that simulates daylight lighting around D50. Otherwise, the color will have a cast depending on the light it is viewed in.
  6. The walls should be white or a neutral gray. Light reflects the color of the surface it is bounced off of so keep all the colors in the room neutral to avoid unwanted colorcasts.

The human eye is an amazing piece anatomy. It will adjust to any lighting condition. A white plate in room filled with red lighting will look white once the viewer’s eyes adjust to the lighting in the room. That is why it is so important to have color correct lighting. Lighting that is off color will not be noticed after an adjustment period in the room. This makes color corrections less accurate and more time consuming.

Choosing the Correct Lighting

Choosing the correct lighting is easier than it seems. First, assess the number and types of lighting receptacles in the room. The ideal conditions would be Fluorescent tubes or recessed as the main ceiling lighting with other drop lighting to light the desk areas. The print viewing area should have extra lamps to light the prints directly. If the work area does not have recessed or permanent fixtures for lighting, external lamps and lights can be brought in or built in to suit the space.

Full spectrum lighting should be used in all lights. This is color correct daylight balanced light. This will make color corrections more accurate and easier not to mention full spectrum lighting is easier on the eyes. There are many full spectrum lighting solutions to choose from that not fit any room, but also any budget.

Full spectrum lighting is also used for people with Seasonal Affected Disorder (SAD). It has the added benefit of giving off beneficial light that is therapeutic, also.