The Waterford School

NEC helps update a school photography lab with professional-grade monitors that accurately display color

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The Waterford School
Quick Facts
  • Facility: The Waterford School
  • Location: Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Challenge: Update a school photography lab with professional-grade monitors that accurately display color
  • Solution: NEC 22” MultiSync P221W-BK, 23” MultiSync P232W-BK and 24” MultiSync P242W-BK displays; SpectraView color calibration software; SpectraSensor Pro color calibration sensor

High school students studying photography need to learn both the art and the craft. The art comes from within—the eye for capturing a visually pleasing image. The craft comes from adeptly using the tools of photography to adjust the exposure, crop the photo just right and reach the proper skin tone saturation.

The Waterford School in Salt Lake City immerses its 885 students in both the art and craft of photography. Each eighth-grader is required to take at least one term of digital photography, while high school students must commit to a two-year sequence in the visual or performing arts, with photography as one option. Classes go all the way up to the Advanced Placement level.

Bernard Meyers began teaching at the Waterford School four years ago, bringing with him three decades of knowledge as a professional photographer, as well as more than 20 years’ experience as a university professor. Though he teaches both traditional and contemporary techniques at Waterford, 80 percent of his coursework focuses on digital.

“The same things we pursued in traditional darkroom printing we want in digital printing,” he said. “The critical step is that the image on the monitor matches what comes out of the printer.”

The Challenge

Before Meyers joined Waterford, the digital teaching emphasis was reversed, with most of the class time spent in the darkroom. There was one small computer lab featuring a hodgepodge of 18 monitors.

“It was kind of a funky set up,” he said. “The first thing I needed to do was replace the monitors, because there was no way to have consistency from the monitor to the printer with what we had.”

Waterford moved the photography studio to a 4,000-squarefoot space this past summer to accommodate a burgeoning interest in the program. The new cluster of rooms has one lab with 24 computers and a second lab with 16—enough stations for Meyers and a second photography teacher to instruct 80 to 90 students per term. Along with the remodeling, the private school committed to buying professional-grade monitors.

The most important factor for Meyers was that the new monitors accurately displayed color so that the image on the screen matched what came out of the printer. With the old monitors, the students wasted dozens of ink cartridges each year printing out images that looked different from what they intended. The old monitors also needed to be recalibrated on a regular basis, which added up to a lot of unproductive time spent trying to get the colors to look right.

Because Waterford puts such a strong emphasis on the arts, Meyers said he had the administration’s full support in purchasing high-quality equipment. Nonetheless, he also wanted the monitors to be affordable.

The Solution

Meyers had used NEC Display monitors professionally for decades, including for art and architecture reproduction that requires exact color matching of well-known paintings and locales. Although he’s been personally loyal to NEC, he decided to research a range of monitors to ensure he made the best choice for students.

The NEC 22-inch MultiSync P221W-BK, 23-inch MultiSync P232W-BK and 24-inch MultiSync P242W-BK monitors featured the color quality Waterford’s students needed at a price that fit well within the school’s budget. With their accurate, consistent and repeatable color performance, the monitors are tailor made for high-end photography.

“The thing that made NEC stand head and shoulders above the rest was the color calibration,” Meyers said. Covering 78.4 percent of the Adobe RGB color space, the monitors show the majority of the color space that Meyers’ students work in, which he said is crucial for accuracy. The LED-backlit widescreen monitors display colors vibrantly on a large workspace. AmbiBright ambient light sensors adjust the displays’ brightness depending on the light level in the room.

The SpectraView color calibration software delivers reliable, consistent color through a simple interface. The sensitivity and measurement speed of the SpectraSensor Pro color calibration sensor is five times greater than the last generation, which enables it to deliver accurate, repeatable color over a long time period.

Meyers is also impressed with NEC’s track record of customer support. From his first contact with the salesperson to ongoing questions, he said NEC’s staff is accessible and helpful throughout the entire product lifecycle.

Since the first batch of 28 smaller monitors was installed over the summer, Meyers estimates his classes have reduced their ink and paper usage by 30 percent to 40 percent. He used to calibrate the old monitors numerous times each month. With the new monitors, Meyers only needs to calibrate them once every 10 weeks—that is, once a term.

“It used to be a big deal to get a good monitor,” Meyers said. “They were incredibly expensive and finicky. With these NEC monitors, that’s no longer a problem. They’re an incredible time saver.”

The monitors were also simple to set up. Meyers gathered a group of work study students to unpack them, run the installation software and perform the initial color calibrations. All the monitors in his first order were ready to use in two hours. (Meyers ordered the second batch of monitors that included eight P232W and three P242W monitors later in the fall.)

Not only is the school saving money on printing costs thanks to the better monitors, but the quality of the students’ work is improving, too. While they like working on both size screens, they clamor for the chance to work on the bigger ones. A former student visited over his holiday break and said that Waterford’s photo labs are now better than the ones at his top-tier university.

“NEC makes a great product, and they back it up,” Meyers said. “It’s just been a win-win for us.”