One of the key advantages of digital photography is that work can be undertaken in a comfortable environment in normal lighting. Almost any domestic space can therefore be transformed into a digital workroom. However, a number of factors should be considered when planning an environment in which to work. Only a few photographers will be fortunate enough to enjoy a dedicated room, but most of the environmental requirements can be achieved in less ideal circumstances.
The basic elements of a digital workroom are:
- a stable and convenient working surface to support equipment and provide sufficient space to work, and a suitable swivel chair of adjustable height;
- a desk-top computer and suitable calibrated monitor;
- appropriate scanners, printers and other peripherals to support the relevant activities;
- secure back-up and archiving facilities;
- storage facilities for CDs, film-based images, prints and consumables;
- suitable electrical arrangements to support numerous mains-powered devices, and suitable surge protection; and
- appropriate lighting arrangements and window blinds.
When seated at a computer, posture is very important. A photographer is likely to spend many hours seated at a workstation, and stress injury is all too easily sustained. The operator's arms should be horizontal or angled slightly down. When using a mouse it should ideally be possible to support the wrist on the working surface. This reduces the risk of developing repetitive strain injury. The feet should be placed flat on the floor and the chair should provide support the small of the back. The top of the monitor should be at about eye level so that the head is inclined slightly downwards.
Monitors should be positioned so that no direct light source falls upon them. Desk lamps should be shaded or turned away, and light from windows should fall on to monitors from the side rather than the front or back. Hoods are available to shield monitors in difficult lighting conditions.
Magnetic media such as disks and tapes should be stored at least a metre from sources of magnetic fields such as monitors mains power adaptors. Back-up and archive material should be kept well away from the working environment, preferably in another room.