Photo by Scott Bourne
Many photographers have trouble matching the color on their screen with the color they get from their printers. And not everyone can afford the tools to solve this problem. But there is a fix that cost less than $20 that I would think everyone CAN afford.
Control the ambient light in your computer room.
If you use overhead lighting, or your monitor sits in direct sunlight, it is virtually impossible to get good color matching. Ambient light impacts the way we see color. If you have a cool light source dominating your room, it will make the images on your screen appear bluer than normal, and vice versa.
Spend $20 and get yourself a floor-standing lamp with a 40 watt bulb in it. Put it somewhere on a plane BEHIND your monitor so that its glare doesn’t reflect in the monitor. While the room will probably appear much darker than you are used to, it will greatly improve the accuracy of the color that YOU see with your own eyes on the monitor. And that is a great starting point for a good color managed workflow.
Maybe you need curtains or blinds to block the sun? Or maybe you have other ambient light problems like that great big red Santana poster that hangs on the wall right above your monitor. Get rid of it. It makes your monitor appear more red than it really is. Get the idea?
Now this trick won’t substitute the need for good color management software, calibration and profiles, but it WILL help you to get the most out of those tools and in the mean time will help you just eyeball your images far better than you could otherwise.