Print Vs. Screen

Computers have affected photography in many ways. The most obvious is probably digital cameras. Film has been relegated to a small niche item.

We can use programs like Photoshop or Gimp to do things that were difficult, if not impossible in the old darkrooms{{1)). Cameras themselves are computerized marvels that make a lot of the technical aspects of photography almost non-existent. There is one area though that may not be as obvious…

Back in the film days, the only way to see the image was to make a print (or project a slide, but that was a whole process by itself…). Now we can make prints easier, or at least less messily, but the majority of images are only seen on a computer screen. Of course the advantage of viewing photos on a computer screen is convenience. With the wonder of the Internet, it is also very easy to share photos with many people (sometimes MANY, MANY people).

There are some disadvantages to viewing photos on a monitor though. If you are sharing photos with others, you have no control of the type of monitor they are using. The image may look great on your high end, colour calibrated monitor, but it may lack detail, contrast, saturation, and colour fidelity on a cheap monitor.

A well made print will have way more detail, a better contrast range, and, in my opinion, more “presence” than a screen image. A print is also more permanent. A print hanging on a wall invites you to come back and investigate it again and again. An image on a computer screen can be turned off.

In the next article, I will talk about how the different display options affect the entire photography work flow, from taking the image to post processing…

[[1]]Actually there were some very creative people in the darkroom. Some of these could do more in the darkroom than some people can do in Photoshop, but overall, it is much easier to manipulate images on a computer, if only because it is easier to “undo” a mistake…[[1]]