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Photographing Panoramas for Large Prints

Lesson 20 of 30

Profiling & Calibrating Your Monitor

Mike Hagen

Photographing Panoramas for Large Prints

Mike Hagen

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Lesson Info

20. Profiling & Calibrating Your Monitor
Monitor calibration is important but often overlooked essential to getting prints to look just as great as the colors on your screen. Watch the monitor calibration process and real time and find the best types of monitors for photo work.

Lesson Info

Profiling & Calibrating Your Monitor

Let's now talk about calibrating your monitor. So, in this next segment here, I'm gonna actually calibrate the monitor. We're going to do it in real time, and I'll show you the whole process. Before I start here, though, I want to give a shout out to X-Rite. X-Rite, they sent us a couple of calibration units to use specifically for this class, and I'll talk about the details between these two in just a minute, but what we're going to do is we're going to end up using a calibration unit here, and that calibration unit will lay on the computer monitor, and I'll take you through the whole process, show you how it works. But the first thing we need to know is why. Why calibrate? Calibration is, the purpose of calibrating is so that your colors match the lab or your colors match what the printer's going to give you. And so we calibrate to kind of an international standard so that your red is red, and your blue is blue, and your green is green. So that what you see here is the same thing tha...

t you're gonna see on the printer when you finally hit go. So, let me talk through a couple of things about monitor, and then we'll get into the actual software process. So, your monitor matters. You know, spending money on a monitor is kind of like spending money on a good tripod. You're gonna go to your local camera store or your local big box store, and you're gonna see these monitors there. You know, 127" monitor, $150. Don't buy that monitor. That's a bad monitor for what you want to do here. The monitor you buy should have a wide dynamic range, or a high contrast ratio. So what I'm looking for is, I'm looking for at least 1000:1 contrast ratio. Should be a wide gamut, in other words it should show you as many colors as possible. So what I'm looking for is a monitor that shows me 98 to 100% of Adobe RGB color space. So, 98 to 100% of Adobe RGE color space, that's what I'm looking for. And then, also, a wide viewing angle. I'm working today on a laptop, just because it's convenient and it's small, and it works for this class, but in my office I actually have a big monitor. It's an EIZO, and I love EIZO. I buy all my own monitors, EIZO doesn't sponsor me. I buy EIZO because they're, in my opinion, the best in the industry. And they're not cheap. They're multiple thousands of dollars. But the reason why I use them is because I can really view that monitor from just about any angle, and there's no drop off in color fidelity, or brightness, or contrast. It shows me a lot of colors. It's Adobe RGB color space. So I spend the money on good monitors because I think that's important. How about next, the actual calibration process. Well, I think you should calibrate about once a month. Hardware is not stable, in other words, over time your hardware will actually shift. You know, things change. The internal phosphors change, the LEDs change in brightness over time. So a good frequency is about once a month go through this process, and it only takes three minutes start to finish. Use a quality calibration unit. Spend a little bit of money here. So, I mentioned X-Rite. X-Rite, they sent me a couple of units to use. Let me talk about both of them here real quick. The first one is this, it's called the ColorMunki. The ColorMunki Display. This is designed to be kind of a click-and-go product. It's around a hundred, a hundred and something dollars, so it doesn't cost a lot. There aren't a lot of customizable switches and buttons and knobs and features in this one. It's basically just click and go and you're off and running. I think it's a very high quality product. It does a great job for you. If you're a professional, or if you're an aspiring amateur and you want to get better with your calibration, you want more control over the calibration process, then I recommend this one. This is the i1 Display Pro, and the key word there is pro. This allows you to do all kinds of other things. You can change the gamma, you can change the D65, D55, these are all brightnesses and colors and color temperature, that's the word I'm trying to come up with. So the i1 Display Pro is the one I'll be showing today. It allows us a little bit more flexibility with our processing, so, and that's the one that I have here. Another cool thing about this is it actually has an ambient light sensor, so that when it's plugged in, and I'll leave this plugged in throughout the rest of this segment, you'll see this little light blinking on and off. It's actually actively measuring the brightness of the ambient light, so that when it gets darker in the room it actually dims down the brightness of your monitor to match, and, you know, if your window is open and the sunlight comes in, it brightens up the room. This will actually cause your monitor to get brighter. So it's got an ambient light sensor. I mention about the purpose of calibration is we want our colors to be standardized. So what else needs to be standardized? So it's not just colors, it's the brightness of your screen. I love Apple, I love Macintosh computers, and the reason I love them is because their screens are so bright and vibrant and saturated and contrasty. They look beautiful, but you know what? That doesn't match what your printer's gonna do. So that's the point of calibration. Make sure that your brightness and your contrast and your colors, that they're standardized, so that what you see on your monitor will be replicated on your printer. So, we're standardizing across the industry, and so you know what? All of the labs, we're gonna talk about lab printing later, if your screen is calibrated, then you have to believe, and hopefully your lab is calibrated, then you have to believe that what you see on your screen matches what the lab does. So if everybody in the world uses the same calibration standard, then what I do here is the same as what's gonna happen in Texas, and New York, and Boston, and Canada, and Mexico. I can send these files just about anywhere in the world and hope to get good, consistent color everywhere. WYSIWYG stands for What You See Is What You Get, WYSIWYG. So I want what I see on my computer to be what I get on my printer. And this leads to one of the reasons why so many of you are watching today. Printing is frustrating. You get a print off from your printer and you're like, "Oh, it looks terrible, why is it so yellow?" Well, the reason why it's so yellow is because you didn't calibrate your monitor. Just a real quick story, when I picked up that massive print over there that I showed earlier, I picked that up at Costco, and I was picking it up from the counter, and this lady comes in and she's got this gigantic canvas that she made. I think she took it on her cell phone or whatever. She opens up the box, you know, the canvas was made somewhere else in the country. It was shipped there. And so she's opening it up, the first time she sees it, and she goes, "Oh, it's terrible. "It looks terrible, what happened to the colors?" And so I'm standing next to her and I wanted to say all these things that were she messed up, but I didn't, I just kind of stood there on the side, but you feel her pain because what she saw on her computer did not match what she got in her final print. So, that's why we're doing what we're gonna do next, calibrate. Alrighty, let's go ahead and do this. We're gonna switch over to this camera here, and you guys are all going to watch how I do this calibration process. So I'm going to plug in the calibration unit. It is a USB, it's connected through a USB so I'm gonna plug that one in there. And normally, you're going to leave the calibration unit just on your table top, like for those 30 days that you're not calibrating you're just gonna leave it there on the table top. So I'm going to start the calibration software. It's up here on the top of my screen on my monitor. And I'm going to launch the i1 Profiler. Alright, it says "Register." I just loaded the software so I haven't registered it yet. So, next is, on the left-hand side here I'm going to go to Display Profiling. And you'll see that there's a wide variety of things that I can actually profile or calibrate. I can calibrate the display, that's the monitor. I can calibrate my projector, so like, if I project images on the wall and I'm giving presentations, that's a big deal. I want what I see on the wall also to match. This will do that. This will calibrate your projector, it'll also profile your printer so that the reds that your printer is producing match what you see on your screen, and it will also profile your scanner. Well, today what I'm interested in is Display Profiling, so we'll click that. Okay, next, as we go over here into this screen, and I mentioned there's a lot of things that you can change in the Pro software here, so we're going to profile this display, and it's called the Color LCD, meaning the laptop's monitor. If you have multiple monitors hooked up to your computer system, it will show those other monitors here. So like, I can also calibrate my EIZO by clicking on that and moving this screen over to my EIZO, and your computer system will actually manage different color profiles for the different monitors. That's pretty cool. I choose my white point, D65. That's the color temperature there. I choose the luminance of my monitor, and there's a variety of these, but in general 120 candelas per square meter is the right choice. And then I'm not gonna really mess with gamma too much here, but a gamma of 2.2 is where most people set their gamma. And then the last one down here is do you want to adjust the profile based on my ambient light? And so that, if I click Yes, then any time I leave the i1 Display Pro out on the table it will actually modify my screen brightness throughout the day, so I'm gonna say yes on that. Okay, so now I'm gonna go down here to the lower-right, click Next. So, these are the colors. Over here on the right side, those are the colors that are actually going to cycle through. You'll see that here in just a second, and then, oh I'm gonna also click this one, Automatic Display Control. What I said earlier was incorrect, this is the one that activates the real-time Automatic Display Control for ambient light, so I'll click that one. Alright, so start measurement, this should... It's not activating the measurement. Let me go back one page and deactivate adjust profile based on ambient light and see if this is going to work. Start measurement, there we go. So my mistake there was, I had selected on that previous screen adjust measurement based on the ambient light, which deactivated this profiling process. So this here, this is a weight, it's a counter weight, and that's designed to keep this thing from sliding down on your screen. So I'm gonna put that there, and then I'm gonna kind of just push it on the screen and make sure that the little rubber gasket around it is level and flush against the monitor. And it is. I click OK. Then I click Next, here, and now what it's going to do is it's going to start cycling through all of those tonalities, grays, whites, blacks, and then it's also going to start cycling through the colors, the greens and the reds and the yellows and the magentas. All that good stuff. So it should be running, there we go. Now, up comes the reds and the greens and the blues. Awesome. So this gonna take about two minutes to run through the process, and so I think this would probably be a good time to answer a question or two. One of the questions that a lot of people have been asking, and it's something that I myself also wondered when I first started, was does the screen need to be in a dark space when you're calibrating? We're not in a dark space right now, but are there some calibrators that that is the case? So photo maker said, "Would you typically "calibrate the monitor in a dark room "and with the monitor warmed up for at least 40 minutes?" Okay, good, so that's a great question, and the answer is the brightness of the room doesn't matter so much because your calibration unit actually has a little rubber seal around the edges, and as long as your calibration unit is pressed up against the monitor's screen, it's gonna seal out any of the ambient light, so, you know, I mean, if you try to do it maybe outside in the bright sun, sunlight actually may reflect off of some parts of the monitor, so that would be a bad thing. But it doesn't have to be dark. I guess that's the main point. It doesn't have to be perfectly dark in your room. You should really calibrate in the room and the environment that you're gonna be working in. That's the key. Now, the second part of this question is also a very good question. Should you let your system warm up? And the answer is yes. I forgot to mention that, actually, so thank you for reminding me. You should let the system warm up for 30 to 45 minutes, and that basically lets the LEDs and the phosphors and all of the color stuff in the system get up to room temperature, and then you go ahead and do the calibration process. So, you know, if you know that today is calibration day, fire up your laptop, go get some coffee, watch the morning news, put some butter on your toast, and then come back, and then do the calibration after it's warmed up. Great. Great, and I think that, again, Joan's question was, how much difference does it make if you're then going to view your monitor in a bright room or a dark room? So, that-- Let me keep adding onto that. I'm gonna expand on it, and that is, the brightness of the room does matter. The office that I built on my house, I don't have shades that can make room perfectly sealed off, so in the morning sun actually comes in through a couple of the windows even though I have my shades down, and it impacts my viewing experience. So I know that if I have to do some critical color adjustment, I wait until the sun has passed above my window so that the room is not filling up with light, because it does impact what I feel and what I see in my screen, so good question. Alright, perfect timing, so now on the monitor, on the screen, if you can see this with the video camera, it's actually telling me to take the calibration unit off and then flip around the diffusion panel on there, and the reason that it wants me to do that is it wants me to put that above the calibration unit, snap it down, and then I'm gonna keep it here on the desktop and throughout the rest of our session here, it's going to actually be measuring ambient light levels. So you'll see that every couple of seconds, or every 10 seconds or so, this little light will come on saying, "Hey, taking a measurement, taking a measurement." Alrighty, so I'm gonna go Next, here, back on my computer monitor, I click Next. There we go, so it's got the calibration, it's got the measurement. We're gonna click Next down here in the lower-right. And now I need to name it, alright? So I'm gonna name this Color LCD, or maybe something that makes sense to me, like, I don't even know what, what is the color LCD? I don't know, how about this? Mike Macintosh Laptop, and I'll just put CL for CreativeLive. Oh, I know exactly what that is now, it makes sense to me. Do I want to be reminded? So I can say "Yeah, please remind me "in four weeks to do it again." Do you want the monitoring mode, it asks you again, do you want to keep monitoring? I'll say yes. And then, how frequently do you want it to do the ambient light check? Every 10 minutes? Every 30 minutes? Every 60 minutes? Well, maybe every 10 minutes. I don't know, it's up to you. It depends on how frequently the light changes in your room. So now I go down here to Create and save profile. Okay, and then a little window comes up that says, "Hey Mike, we're gonna keep checking the ambient light level." Okay, got it. Alright, so let's compare now before and after, and I think you all can see this on that camera. Up here in the upper-right of my profile screen it gives me Before, so here's the before, and then here's the after. You can barely see, before is kind of a blue color cast, and after is a warmer color cast. So again, we'll go back, before and then after. And I think once I plug back in to the big monitor here in a second, we'll be able to see it again. Well that's very interesting, and that's very telling that the Macintosh default calibration, the one that came from the factory, had a blue cast. It biased it blue. So what does that mean? Well, that means when I'm editing in Lightroom and Photoshop then a lot of times I'm maybe adding warmth, or I'm adding magentas and reds and yellows back in. So that could lead to warmer looking prints. You see? So calibration is important. It's important that you calibrate so that what you see on the monitor is what I see on the print. Alright, we are done, so I'm gonna click Home. It says, "Register please." And now we're good, so what I'm gonna do is I'm gonna shut down the profiler software. And I just wanna point this out, up here on this top system tray of my laptop computer, it's hard to see, I know, but there's a little i1 that shows there and it means the profiler tray is running and it's operating and it's real-time measuring the ambient light. So, that's profiling 101. I'm going to System Preferences, and in System Preferences I am now going to click on Displays and go to Color. Alright, so here's Displays, and then Color. This allows you to change, basically, the type or whatever calibration you have for that monitor, and as I change these around, you'll see the difference in the profiles that we created. So the one that we just did was a profile. I've lost it in the list. Well, that's okay, 'cause we did one yesterday in practice, and so I'm gonna use that one. It's called Color LCD Studio A, that's where we're at here. So that's the Studio A versus Color LCD, Studio A versus Color LCD. So Color LCD is the one from the factory, and Studio A is the one we did right here at the CreativeLive Studios. Well, this is another thing to think about. When I'm working on my computer, just reading emails and writing books and all of that, to be honest, I don't like the calibrated screen look, 'cause it's darker and it feels warmer. I actually like working on the brighter, bluer screen when I'm just working. So whenever I go to photo editing, though, and photo manipulation, that's when I go to the calibration that we just did, you know, here in the studio or back at home, because I know, then, that what I see on my monitor will actually match what I see on my printer. So you don't always have to use that profile. I guess that's my main point. An Apple, and Windows machines, both allow you to switch back and forth between those profiles.

Class Description


  • Shoot a variety of 360 degree panoramas (skylines, landscapes, vertical and horizontal) with the final print in mind
  • Stitch your images together to create a panorama with Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom
  • Print large images to sell or display in your home


From the skylines of New York and Los Angeles to Switzerland's mountainous backdrop, some scenes are just too spectacular to fit inside a 3:2 frame. Being surrounded by and immersed in a beautiful vista is part of the joy of being a photographer -- but how do you capture what it feels like to stand there in person inside a single image? Panoramas capture that feeling of wonder and squeeze it into the limited form of a two-dimensional print.

Take the experience of seeing a magnificent vista or panoramic view home with you. Join Mike Hagen, director of the Nikonians Academy, and learn his techniques for mastering the art of the panorama, without a dedicated panoramic camera. In this class, he will teach you:

Learn everything you need to make a breathtaking panorama from capturing that spectacular view to hanging the panorama above your couch. Shoot dynamic panoramas in the field that fit together easily when stitched in post-processing. Stitch them together with an eye for printing. Get your color toning right to minimize your reprints, and learn how printing can help you notice things that you may miss when the image is in digital format.


Adventure, travel and landscape photographers looking to improve their final product, make it print-worthy and potentially sell their work.

Adobe Lightroom Classic CC 2016, Adobe Photoshop CC 2015.5


Join photographer, author, and educator Mike Hagen on the journey to perfect the panorama. Hagen has taught hundreds of workshops spanning topics from landscapes to using flash, all while running Visual Adventures and working with the Nikonians Academy. The USA-based photographer has led destination workshops from America-based destinations to bucket-list international locations like Iceland, the Galapagos, and Italy. Hagen is known for his humorous teaching style while presenting complex topics in an easy-to-grasp lesson.


Fred Morton

Get it, get it and get it. I bought Mike's Speedlight course and this is on the list after watching it on line. The course design by Mike with the Creative Live staff is a successful blend of content and presentation. I absolutely loved how Mike took us on location for several shoots, where we could see the setup and problems that he had to resolve. This is a must have course for photographers interested in landscape work. Another powerful part of this class is Mike's willingness to demonstrate and show us what didn't work. The practical experience in his course was just like being in the field with Mike.

user a5f3c6

Mike combines two characteristics of a great teacher: he's obviously knowledgable and competent about his subject matter and he's relaxed and confident in how he presents his ideas. This class covers everything I need to know about photographing and printing panoramas. But, it is much more. It is a class that shows the essential skills involved in shooting, post-processing, and printing photographs and how to apply them to a specific application: panoramas. I learned a lot! Thanks, Mike.

Sue Sirius

This workshop was terrific! I learned so much about taking, processing and printing panoramas (and photos in general). I found the presentation very easy to follow with great examples and instructions. Highly recommend this!