Photoshop Workspace Color

DanOstergren

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What do you have your workspace background in Photoshop set to? I recently encountered a sort of funny problem in Photoshop. I'm not sure I would even call it a "problem", but it was causing me issues regardless.

I've always set my workspace color to "Medium Gray". Not because anybody told me too, but because I felt that it was good for determining color accuracy (this being because you can use a physical medium gray card held by your model to set your white balance in Photoshop). My head just related the background color to that, and I didn't question it, I just assumed it was correct to also have the workspace background set to medium gray. As a result however, I felt like it was causing me to edit my photos a little too dark. Against a white background, my images just weren't popping out the way they would in front of the medium gray background in Photoshop. It was having the same effect on my printed photos. They were just coming out too dark.

So I got to thinking, maybe if I set the background color to White, I would be able to see it differently and be able to give it proper brightness and contrast. It seems to have worked and the result is punchier edits that are more satisfying to me, but I would love to know the opinions of others on this. Have you experienced this issue or anything similar to it? How did you fix it? Is switching to a white background a bad idea, and will it effect my color accuracy? Honestly I could likely just set it to white to get the proper brightness and contrast, and then switch it back over to medium gray for color accuracy, but is that really necessary, and does a medium gray workspace background even have an effect on the way we see color?
 

Derrel

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I think the workspace has a huge effect on how we edit our photos...I'm using Lightroom these days, with a combo of dark gray and black workspace...been using that since 2013...I feel somewhat the same way about traditional prints and mattes, but since prints are viewed by reflected light, and not back-lit on a monitor, on mattes for prints, gray makes colors pop!, whereas white steals the color from the printed image. But yeah, I know what you mean: the workspace influences our perceptions of the images on-screen.
 

webestang64

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Mine is set to light gray.....about a 32% gray.
 

chuasam

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i work full screen
 

Tim Tucker 2

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I find that how the background affects your perception varies from one image to the next. The only true answer is to view the image in the context that it's intended.

But with print there's another problem, that the additive colour system of your screen will never show you how a print will look. Not only do they work in reverse, (screens will show a drop in contrast when viewed in bright light and an increase in less light where prints will do the opposite), but screens seem to fail to show subtle gradations in reds especially.

What I do is to vary my backgrounds and see how they look against each image which gives me a *feel* for the perceptive effects of each shot. I'm not saying that I get it right though. ;-)

If your output is print then the only way to assess is in print, so maybe the old darkroom system of a test print is the best method. I've got a stack of A4 luster just for difficult images, I use the roll if I'm happy with the test. But then the actual size you print can also affect your perception, but the differences will be smaller and the viewer might actually prefer the more subtle print. It's another problem when editing, that when comparing your eye adjusts to the edit with more *pop* so the one with less will always look inferior. You can drive yourself nuts trying to nail down perception to absolutes. ;-)
 

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