Reduce room lighting and try to avoid reflections in the monitor. If the room is too bright the monitor will probably be set too bright.
If experiencing viewing issues, first try a different monitor. Did you see any improvement from monitor to monitor?
Older monitors (2 years or more) are usually out of color (out of calibration). While newer monitors are best, sometimes they need a little tweaking.
Newer LCD monitors are much brighter. If you have them too bright, the photos may look too dark. My monitor is set between 33% to 40% of maximum brightness. It changes between calibrations.
With LCD's the basic brightness setting is the one you want, while with older CRT monitors, you may need to alter the contrast setting to alter overall brightness.
Set the monitor to display "millions of colors" or 24/32 bit. Preferably this change needs switched on for at least twenty minutes before viewing.
Monitors should be switched on for at least twenty minutes prior to making any adjustment or calibrations.
If your web browser allows you to use color management, set this option on (if unsure just ignore it).
Screen Calibration Image/Print
Computer screens / monitors can vary greatly in brightness and color.
Here is a simple way to check to see if the screen is about right. (When are using a laptop make sure you are viewing perpendicular to the screen). Check the monochrome wedges for brightness. You should be able to see a slight change in each square left to right.
If you are unable to see a slight change in each square left to right the monitor needs calibrating.
What the Brightness and Contrast Controls Do
For a detailed explanation of what the brightness and contrast controls do click here.
Do remember for true and accurate color photographic images you should consider getting a hardware calibrator. It is simple and easy to use. A calibrator will correct monitor color, brightness and contrast automatically. However, it will not make up for viewing in bright rooms, reflections, etc, or viewing on an old monitor.
Have a look at the test images below, they are designed to help adjust the screen to display images more accurately*.
You may find that the monitor looks somewhat odd after adjustment, especially if the monitor was way out of calibration. This effect is quite normal and you will soon get used to it.
The controls on the monitor may be physical adjustment knobs, or a menu may appear on the screen (this is produced by the monitor itself, so the mouse won't work).
*Note: Basic monitor calibration is not difficult, but if you are not happy with changing settings on your machine, it is always best to ask someone who knows how to do it first. A well set up monitor should enhance your viewing of most sites. Incidentally, it's never a good move to adjust another person's computer monitor without their permission.
Calibrating a monitor for viewing photographs correctly
The strip below shows a range of greys from pure black to pure white.
You should be able to see a clear difference between each shade of grey, ranging from pure black (left) and pure white (right). If not, the monitor needs calibrated.
Along the top of the strips are alternate patches of black and dark grey.
If it looks solid black to you (look very carefully), your monitor's brightness is too low and needs calibrated.
Increase the brightness until you can -just- perceive the difference between the grey and the black squares.
If it resembles either of the two strips below, the monitor brightness is set too bright or too dark and needs calibrated.
This test is just making sure you can see shadow and highlight details and is no way to set maximum brightness accurately - Ideally a hardware calibrator is needed (read more below) to set the maximum brightness accurately.
Spyder Pro Calibrator
For computer monitor color calibration, Mark uses a device called the Spyder Pro by DataColor. The Spyder Pro requires mail order from larger camera stores in New York or LA for $250 to $300.
Do remember for true and accurate color digital images you should consider getting a hardware calibrator. It is simple and easy to use. A calibrator will correct monitor color, brightness and contrast automatically. However, it will not make up for viewing in bright rooms, reflections, etc, or viewing on an old monitor.
Here is a link to the Spyder Pro website.
I am not paid in any way for this recommendation. Just one of the products I use in my workflow process.