When I started developing my web site, I knew that the right set of colours would be critical to it looking good and being easy to navigate. I also knew that I really liked the Adobe Lightroom interface colours; they put the images foremost, on a relatively neutral, high contrast background of dark grays and black. I wanted to carry this over to my web pages so my images would be presented in the best possible surroundings and would prominent.
When my first version was ready, I asked a few friends to have a look and let me know what they thought. Most commented that it was too hard to read the text.
Back to the drawing boards ... I hadn't spent a great deal of time trying to adhere to web site accessibility standards, but I now needed to make sure that my choice of colours would work. Google to the rescue ... I found a web site that allows me ensure my colours would provide enough contrast to ensure good readability.
But before I started, I wanted to calibrate my monitor, a Samsung SyncMaster 910T. I had also run into difficulty before getting my printed images to come even close to looking like the images on my monitor (more on this in another post). With these two needs in mind, I purchased a colour calibration software package, the X-Rite Monaco EZcolor software, which comes with the Monaco OPTIXXR colorimeter.
One of the important pieces of calibrating a monitor is obtaining a proper gamma level. Gamma is the relationship between the lightness/darkness levels expressed in an image and the brightness/darkness of the pixel displayed on a monitor. Most guidelines suggest setting monitor contrast as high as possible and then adjust the brightness until you get an acceptable gray scale range, as shown here.
Try it! The top row of the calibration image above comprises alternating 0% black and 5% gray squares. You should ONLY JUST be able to perceive the bar as bands rather than an all black strip. The bottom row comprises 21 steps of neutral gray in 5% steps from 0% black to 100% white. If you're having trouble, have a look at David Myers: DIGITALMASTERS australasia web site for more details.