Make Hay While the Sun Shines: Avoiding Screen Glare When Working Outside

It may only be February, but spring is definitely on its way here in Indiana. Warmth and sunshine dictated the weather this past weekend, and the outlook for this week is looking pretty positive, as well. With forecasts starting to improve, you may be tempted to ditch your office to soak up some sun while working on your latest project. But beware of the dreaded productivity killer often found lurking in the great outdoors: screen glare.

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You might have had a run-in with screen glare before. It’s that extremely annoying effect that bright light has on our glossy, high definition laptop, tablet, and phone screens. Sunlight in particular has a real tendency to exasperate the problem. Screen glare washes out your screen, making it difficult to see past the reflection of your face in the glass. This washout effect is particularly bothersome for designers, as colors appear differently than they would in normal lighting.

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Purdue students braved screen glare this weekend to enjoy the nice weather while working on homework outside.

It may sound like screen glare dooms you to a life indoors while working on your creative projects, but fear not: there are a few methods that exist to limit the effects of sunlight on your screen. Follow the tips below to get your projects completed on time while still enjoying a little fun in the sun.

1. Sit in the Shade

It may seem a little obvious, but finding a nice shady spot in which to do your work is the easiest way to cut down on screen glare. If you can’t catch a little shade, try facing the sun with your laptop screen facing away from it. While that won’t do you much good at high noon (a.k.a. your lunch hour), it will help a little during times when the sun is lower in the sky.

2. Crank Up the Brightness

Increasing the brightness level is another easy way to make your screen a little more visible in bright light. Most keyboards will have built-in keys for convenient access to brightness settings. On Macs, for example, F2 is the “key” to a brighter screen.

3. Shield Your Screen

For creatives who frequently brave the sunlight, it might be worthwhile to invest in an anti-glare screen protector. This model has high reviews on Amazon. Most anti-glare protectors give your screen a matte finish as opposed to a glossy sheen, thereby softening the light that is reflected from the surface. A by-product of this matte finish, though, sometimes means reduced visual quality in normal lighting situations.

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iPad with a bare screen (left) and an anti-glare screen protector applied (right) [Image credit: OSXDaily]

4. Put a Hood on It

One final suggestion for reducing screen glare is to purchase a laptop visor, but let’s face it: those things are pretty ugly. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone using one, either. Instead, photographer Paul Adshead came up with this ingenious hack that uses a cheap and easy solution.

Paul recommends using an IKEA DRÖNA Box in place of a traditional visor. The DRÖNA Box is a steal at only $4.99, comes in five different colors, and is foldable for easy storage and portability. A storage box like this can be found in almost any home goods store, but the IKEA version is nice because it is the perfect size for a 13″ Macbook.

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DRÖNA Box used as a laptop visor [Image credit: DIY Photography]


Now that you’re armed with these tips for fighting the glare, look with optimism to the coming of spring and leaving the confines of your office to enjoy your creative endeavors outdoors. And for those feeling extra adventurous, take a look at this list of 9 tips for successfully working outside.

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