Digital photography may eliminate the wet process of a darkroom, but it still requires time and effort to process a photo. A computer workstation for photography needs to have a powerful computer with image-processing capability, and the area for a workstation should be set up in a way that avoids color casts and odd lighting situations around the monitor. Setting up your photography computer workstation requires as much care and thought as setting up a traditional film darkroom.
Select the area for your workstation. This should include a broad, flat work surface with room enough for your computer, monitor, and any peripheral software. Since the electrical components of a workstation can be delicate, avoid areas of extreme heat or cold when choosing your space. Your future selection of peripheral hardware may be limited by the amount of space available to you, so it is important to define your work area early.
Choose your computer. A computer for a photography workstation needs to have powerful graphics handling capabilities and a processor capable of running sophisticated photo editing software. When choosing your computer, read the recommended specifications for the software you will be using, such as Photoshop, and select a model based on these specifications. Avoid models that have shared graphics memory; instead, look for a computer that has a separate graphics card with dedicated GDDR memory for processing your images. This will make handling your post-processing workflow smoother and less frustrating. RAM is also vital to a good photography workstation, higher amounts will allow your computer to handle the large file sizes used in digital imaging more smoothly.
Select your monitor. Resolution is as important in your monitor as it is in your digital camera, since viewing an image at the wrong resolution setting can affect how the image translates into a print. The native resolution of a monitor--the size of image the monitor produces without adjusting the resolution--is the figure to consider. LCD monitors take up less work space, but can be more expensive than older CRT models. Select a model that is comfortable in size and resolution for your work. Also take into account the type of connection your graphics card uses for output--S-VGA, DVI and VGA are the common types of output; make sure your monitor supports the graphics card output or purchase a converter plug.
Select a printer for home photo printing. This is necessary if you wish to print proofs at home or if you are not sending your finished prints to a photo lab. Printers vary in size, quality, and expense--photographers doing at-home proofs or personal prints may prefer an inkjet printer, where photographers who are printing in bulk or who need the quality of a professional studio may consider a pricier dye sublimation printer.
Place your computer tower in a convenient, ventilated and dust free location at your workstation. From here, connect your peripheral hardware such as your monitor and printer.
Color calibrate your monitor, printer, and any input hardware such as your camera or scanner. Purchase a simple color calibration tool or color management software to perform this task. By calibrating your tools, you can be sure that the colors you are viewing will be the colors that you are printing.