Question about color profiles and posting to the web....

Started Nov 19, 2014 | Discussions
Ben Herrmann
Ben Herrmann Forum Pro • Posts: 19,716
Question about color profiles and posting to the web....

Hello all..

Years ago, the general understanding was that for posting JPG's to the web, it was best to do so in the sRGB profile mode.  But since then much has happened with browsers and how they display images (and color profiles).  In the past, if you uploaded a JPG that had an Adobe 1998 RGB profile, the images would actually look a bit bland.  However, if you uploaded one in sRGB mode, they looked just fine (just the reverse of what you'd see on your PC/MAC).

My question is, does this philosophy still apply to the latest browsers?  I shoot all of my images in Adobe 1998 RGB mode and I've uploaded them to my Photobucket web hosting service (in the same profile).  But somehow (perhaps it's just my eyes), the images don't have the "pop" that they did while looking at them while they were still on my PC.

Need your input and suggestions here...

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Have a great one....
Bernd (Ben) W. Herrmann
North Carolina, USA
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19andrew47
19andrew47 Forum Pro • Posts: 30,186
Re: Question about color profiles and posting to the web....
1

Ben it may have more to do with web site in question than the browser. DPR doesn't handle adobe RGB properly. You need sRGB here for accurate display unless something has changed recently.
Andrew

minniev Senior Member • Posts: 2,896
Re: Question about color profiles and posting to the web....

Any time I load anything in something other than sRGB, I expect the worst and I usually get just that, images that look like they've been dipped in mud. I have heard that some high-end display sites do Adobe RGB -maybe I just don't hang out in those kinds of places..

Ben Herrmann
OP Ben Herrmann Forum Pro • Posts: 19,716
Thanks - I assumed that, and...

I'll have to go back to uploading photos in pure sRGB color profile.  It's a shame really because I just (recently) posting a series of images on both the Fuji and Samsung forums.  The originals look superb on my PC (absolutely sharp with outstanding color), but after the uploads, they look horrible when viewed on DPReview.  Damnnnnnn.....I hate that, especially when making the point about liking a particular camera or lens.

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Have a great one....
Bernd (Ben) W. Herrmann
North Carolina, USA
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apathyman Senior Member • Posts: 2,548
Re: Question about color profiles and posting to the web....

Ben Herrmann wrote:

Hello all..

Years ago, the general understanding was that for posting JPG's to the web, it was best to do so in the sRGB profile mode. But since then much has happened with browsers and how they display images (and color profiles). In the past, if you uploaded a JPG that had an Adobe 1998 RGB profile, the images would actually look a bit bland. However, if you uploaded one in sRGB mode, they looked just fine (just the reverse of what you'd see on your PC/MAC).

My question is, does this philosophy still apply to the latest browsers? I shoot all of my images in Adobe 1998 RGB mode and I've uploaded them to my Photobucket web hosting service (in the same profile). But somehow (perhaps it's just my eyes), the images don't have the "pop" that they did while looking at them while they were still on my PC.

Need your input and suggestions here...

I still think it's best to post in sRGB.

Although many, if not all, modern browsers can honour colour profiles, colour management may not be enabled by default. In Firefox, for example, the user has to specifically enable it.

Cheers

Brian

Pikme Senior Member • Posts: 2,176
Re: Question about color profiles and posting to the web....
2

There are several things to consider:

- which colorspace to use

- whether to embed the color profile in the photo

- what does your website do to the photos

- what does your viewing device and browser do to the photo

If used correctly, it shouldn't matter which colorspace you use for web posting.  There will not be noticeable differences whether you use Adobe or sRGB.  Seriously, there are only noticeable differences when something goes wrong somewhere in the process.

Having said that, you are less likely to have something go wrong if you use sRGB from start to finish and there is no real upside to using Adobe for web posting since most devices/browsers are limited to sRGB anyway.

If you use Adobe or some other profile besides sRGB, then you should embed the profile.  Color aware browsers (like Safari, at least on the computer) will display images properly as long as there is an embedded profile.

However, some browsers will ignore embedded profiles (which changes the images) and many - if not most - websites strip the profiles off anyway, at least for sizes smaller than the original uploaded version.  And then most browsers assume the image was in sRGB or even in your own monitor profile.  In either case, it changes what your image was supposed to look like. Sometimes websites actually strip off your profile and just add on sRGB, so your image is ruined for anyone looking at it.  Those are big reasons to just use the sRGB colorspace in the first place, as you can't change what the websites/browsers are going to do with anything else.

The following three images have embedded sRGB, Adobe or no profile (but made in sRGB colorspace).  They should look the same:

This is an image made in Adobe but assumed to be sRGB - this is what it looks like if the profile is stripped or ignored:

This is the opposite case, showing what happens if the image is made in sRGB but somewhere in the process the Adobe profile is applied (without converting properly)

I hope this helps.

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Roberto M.

purpleray Senior Member • Posts: 1,261
Re: Question about color profiles and posting to the web....

Pikme

That was a great demonstration of the issues - show a clarity about colour management that is hard to find.

I am quite ignorant of how the application of colour space and colour profiles really work.  From what I had gleaned in my own reading, I always travelled the conservative path of choosing sRGB if there was a choice.

I have found an additional problem - colour management or the inconsistent management or lack thereof by software.

Viewing through Internet Explorer always shows an over saturated picture whether DPR or Zenfolio.  Viewing through Firefox shows a more accurate picture but when using slideview  the picture becomes over saturated.  Viewing using Windows picture viewer straight from my PC is OKish but the thumbnails and slideshow are way over saturated.  All this is in comparison with what I see in LR.

So whatever work I do in trying to get the colour right in LR, I cant control how it is viewed by anyone else because of the vagaries of software colour management  -not to mention that most people dont calibrate their monitors at all.

What's the point? - photography seems to be a medium with no consistent viewable output.

Do you  have any idea if there is any solution to this?  Is there something I've missed?

Cheers

Ray

Pikme Senior Member • Posts: 2,176
Re: Question about color profiles and posting to the web....

Ray,

All I can say is that there shouldn't be that kind of difference if you are truly using sRGB the whole way. Somewhere along the way, the wrong profile is being applied by something.

Several years ago, I suddenly started to get poor colors from my E1 and no one could really help me figure out why. I had to just buckle down and do some research to know what my computer was doing (what profile and when), what my browser was doing, what the websites were doing, etc. Basically I had to trace the images from beginning to end and keep checking to see when the color changed and then figure out why.

Here are some sites that do a good job of explaining this stuff:

http://www.drycreekphoto.com/Learn/color_management.htm

http://www.cambridgeincolour.com/tutorials/color-management1.htm

http://www.gballard.net/psd.html

You've hit on my biggest pet peeve concerning digital photography --- not only is there no way to manage what people are seeing with your images, it is hard to really manage the differences with your own images and different devices, different rooms, different time of day for viewing, print vs monitor, etc.  Just what exactly is the 'true' image?

And then to think that people are judging a camera's performance by viewing other people's photography as displayed on the web!  Or even their own, using a third party converter and without ever thinking about the contribution to the 'camera performance' by the quality of their monitor and its profile/calibration quality.

That drives me nuts!  There is a vast difference in the amount of 'noise' and 'banding' that shows up or disappears according to the monitor an image is displayed on - but that is how people mainly judge cameras, as though they can see the true 'proof' of such things.  And every time we get the 'Olympus can't do purple colors' complaints, I always know that is really a color management issue.

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Roberto M.

kbouk
kbouk Regular Member • Posts: 230
Re: Question about color profiles and posting to the web....

Ι have a similar problem when I use LR for RAW editing and after save to JPEG with sRGB profile,

I use to have the menu colour profile on all my Olympus Cameras to SRGB and not to Adobe Raw, because this option I thought it was only meant for the JPEGS made from the camera, so after a process there no change to the colour space and complicate the colours.

but after an investigation with exiftool to the Raws produced with the two options above, I discover that on the profile section there was a different term and then the Lightroom after the process made from me at the end produced different versions when I save them as SRGB, ADOBE RGB (that was expected),

but the more right colours on all my photoviewers are those JPEGS made with AdobeRGB profile, so now I have that option on my camera.

Just another thing, I have my monitor Dell 2711 calibrated with Xrite  eye-One.

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Cheers
Costas

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Pikme Senior Member • Posts: 2,176
Re: Question about color profiles and posting to the web....

kbouk wrote:

but after an investigation with exiftool to the Raws produced with the two options above, I discover that on the profile section there was a different term and then the Lightroom after the process made from me at the end produced different versions when I save them as SRGB, ADOBE RGB (that was expected),

The setting in camera does not affect the raw image as long as nothing incorrect is happening in your process. And it is not expected that versions produced and save as sRGB and Adobe are different. That is my first point above - they should not look different at the end (ok, technically there are very slight differences, but nothing dramatic and nothing that you will obviously see as an overall change to color or saturation or contrast in the final image). When you see those kinds of differences, then something has happened incorrectly in your overall color management process.

There is a difference in the way images are sometimes tagged out of the camera, so using exiftool might be picking up on that. A good workflow process will show NO DIFFERENCE in raw images whether the camera is set to sRGB or Adobe. The image data is exactly the same, just the exif info might be tagged differently.  You can set Photoshop in the general preferences (and presumably Lightroom) to ignore the exif profile tag to avoid any problems. See here for a good quick explanation of the exif issue by color guru Andrew Rodney: http://books.google.com/books?id=jFl-3v9sSEUC&pg=PA167&lpg=PA167&dq=ignore+exif+profile+tag&source=bl&ots=s9o6clwGP6&sig=xUivV-hotFdGN-w53UugIPBz-9E&hl=en&sa=X&ei=WChuVMqVAuz1iQKu04CQBA&ved=0CE4Q6AEwBg#v=onepage&q=ignore%20exif%20profile%20tag&f=false

I do not use Lightroom, so you will have to investigate to see if this is true, but my understanding is that Lightroom uses the colorspace ProPhoto as its working colorspace. Not sRGB and not Adobe. If so, then you need to make sure that images opened in Lightroom aren't adversely affected and more importantly, images exported are converted and saved (and preferably embedded) with the color profile you are intending to use. I would assume that is pretty easy to do and probably is set up by default, but since I do not use LR, I don't know how/what it does. But that is one area for you to check whether something is going wrong.

Of course, the other issue could be that you have just gotten used to the over or undersaturation of wrongly applied profiles, so now that look appears to be the 'correct' look to you.

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Roberto M.

Rich Z
Rich Z Veteran Member • Posts: 8,650
Re: Question about color profiles and posting to the web....
1

Ben, when I'm visiting I often ask my host to let me open my archive on their computer.  I make some excuse, but what I'm after is seeing how they see my pix.  Usually, I am appalled and embarrassed by what I see.  Most people have computers and monitors which, even if expensive, are so far out of whack that they display my pix horribly.  I don't see anything to be done about it.  Rich

http://photobucket.com/dfr49_pix

purpleray Senior Member • Posts: 1,261
Re: Question about color profiles and posting to the web....

HI Roberto

I havent had a chance to read those articles - tho I think I may have read the Ballard and Cambridge a while ago - but I'm not good on the detail unless it stands out as important to me.

I have had a chance to check the consistency of my inclusion of sRGB.   I use LR and always export jpegs as sRGB.  I had thought Firefox was automatically color managed but I found Firefox was not color mgt enabled but having enabled it - the colours if anything are consistently oversaturated when compared with LR.  Windows 7 uses my color profile set by Spyder Pro.  The Windows Picture viewer is the closest to LR but in slideshow reverts to oversaturation.

Now that you mention LR uses its own color space - viewing in s RGB maybe always inherently different.

I will try to have a closer look next week .

Cheers

Ray

purpleray Senior Member • Posts: 1,261
Re: Question about color profiles and posting to the web....

Rich Z wrote:

Ben, when I'm visiting I often ask my host to let me open my archive on their computer. I make some excuse, but what I'm after is seeing how they see my pix. Usually, I am appalled and embarrassed by what I see. Most people have computers and monitors which, even if expensive, are so far out of whack that they display my pix horribly. I don't see anything to be done about it. Rich

http://photobucket.com/dfr49_pix

I do photos of musicals and operas.  I went to one of my client's places to load some photos - they were a shade of blue - yet he really liked the photos and keeps on asking me back.

Cheers

Ray

DavidH202 Senior Member • Posts: 1,552
Re: Question about color profiles and posting to the web....
1

Pikme wrote:

Ray,

You've hit on my biggest pet peeve concerning digital photography --- not only is there no way to manage what people are seeing with your images, it is hard to really manage the differences with your own images and different devices, different rooms, different time of day for viewing, print vs monitor, etc. Just what exactly is the 'true' image?

Roberto M.

Actually it really was no different with film.

Unless you used a custom lab that was consistent and meticulously calibrated in their processing, there could be huge differences in output from one processing lab to another. I had just posted a thread and comments on 4/3rds this after reading a cool NPR report about Kodaks "Shirley" cards, which were used to evaluate and calibrate the printers back in the day . a very interesting read...

http://www.npr.org/2014/11/13/363517842/for-decades-kodak-s-shirley-cards-set-photography-s-skin-tone-standard?utm_source=facebook.com&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=npr&utm_term=nprnews&utm_content=2038

If you ever did business with a one hour photo or "drug store" film dep't and you got crappy photos back, it might not been have your picture taking abilities at fault, but rather a lack of them calibrating the machines or changing the chemicals. Many labs that offered low ball processing prices didn't bother to do the necessary maintenance as often as they should have to save time and money. When I had my camera shop back in the day, I would always tell my customers that if they really cared about their photos, to let me send them to Kodak for processing!
I didn't make as much profit with Kodak, but knew I was giving my customers the best processing they could get!...

And even then Kodak would occasionally screw up and not be consistent if you sent a negative or slide in for enlargements or prints multiple times, as there were so many variables involved from freshness and temp of chemicals to the actual machine being used and the operator himself,herself.

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Pikme Senior Member • Posts: 2,176
Re: Question about color profiles and posting to the web....

DavidH202 wrote:

Actually it really was no different with film.

You are absolutely right and it bugged me then, too.  Actually the frequency of getting poor processing was the driver that led me to get a digital camera in the first place.  I had no idea at the time that I was setting myself up for the frustration of adding computers into the hobby.  (Not to mention my total naiveté in thinking when I bought my very expensive E1 plus various expensive lenses that I was 'set for life'.)

Still, it seemed easier to get prints made.  I usually only had one version and it was what it was, good or bad, move along.  Now there is a print version and multiple internet versions.  I love my iPad but it displays differently than my computer.  And my kids will only look at photos on their phones.  And every time I sit at the computer, I can change everything.  Software updates create changes and a new computer, new iPad, even a new tv will change things.  If you move, the new room lighting makes it different again.  (I know that is true with prints, but easier for me to make mental adjustments for print viewing.)

Some love that flexibility but it kills me.:-)

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Roberto M.

Rich Z
Rich Z Veteran Member • Posts: 8,650
If they like them, I like them
1

Been there, Ray.  Paying clients get their proofs from me in prints.  I take a zip drive with the pix, too.  Sometimes, when they see the difference, I get a side job tuning up their computer.  If they like it, I like it, and I don't work cheap.  The commercial fine art galleries I show in don't want to see anything but an 8x10 or larger print to judge if an artist qualifies to take up their space.  I'm old and pensioned off, and it's really nice to do the photography just for me, and not have to rely on it for beans and bed.  Rich

http://photobucket.com/dfr49_pix

kbouk
kbouk Regular Member • Posts: 230
Re: Question about color profiles and posting to the web....
1

Pikme wrote:

kbouk wrote:

but after an investigation with exiftool to the Raws produced with the two options above, I discover that on the profile section there was a different term and then the Lightroom after the process made from me at the end produced different versions when I save them as SRGB, ADOBE RGB (that was expected),

The setting in camera does not affect the raw image as long as nothing incorrect is happening in your process. And it is not expected that versions produced and save as sRGB and Adobe are different. That is my first point above - they should not look different at the end (ok, technically there are very slight differences, but nothing dramatic and nothing that you will obviously see as an overall change to color or saturation or contrast in the final image). When you see those kinds of differences, then something has happened incorrectly in your overall color management process.

There is a difference in the way images are sometimes tagged out of the camera, so using exiftool might be picking up on that. A good workflow process will show NO DIFFERENCE in raw images whether the camera is set to sRGB or Adobe. The image data is exactly the same, just the exif info might be tagged differently. You can set Photoshop in the general preferences (and presumably Lightroom) to ignore the exif profile tag to avoid any problems. See here for a good quick explanation of the exif issue by color guru Andrew Rodney: http://books.google.com/books?id=jFl-3v9sSEUC&pg=PA167&lpg=PA167&dq=ignore+exif+profile+tag&source=bl&ots=s9o6clwGP6&sig=xUivV-hotFdGN-w53UugIPBz-9E&hl=en&sa=X&ei=WChuVMqVAuz1iQKu04CQBA&ved=0CE4Q6AEwBg#v=onepage&q=ignore%20exif%20profile%20tag&f=false

I do not use Lightroom, so you will have to investigate to see if this is true, but my understanding is that Lightroom uses the colorspace ProPhoto as its working colorspace. Not sRGB and not Adobe. If so, then you need to make sure that images opened in Lightroom aren't adversely affected and more importantly, images exported are converted and saved (and preferably embedded) with the color profile you are intending to use. I would assume that is pretty easy to do and probably is set up by default, but since I do not use LR, I don't know how/what it does. But that is one area for you to check whether something is going wrong.

Of course, the other issue could be that you have just gotten used to the over or undersaturation of wrongly applied profiles, so now that look appears to be the 'correct' look to you.

Hi Roberto, thanks for the link I will try to find some answers to my problem,

I know Photoshop and Lightroom use Prophoto colour space as theirs workining space, also they use any monitor calibration you have done to show the photos as you are working. At the end if you save the photo to SRGB or Adobe SRGB the program tries to assign every colour from the bigger working space of Prophoto to the smaller ones without major change of the colours you see on the monitor. After the conversion if you use a viewer with monitor colour management compatibility the colours must much, in my case the photos with SRGB conversion are over saturated especially on the skin tones, so I save as AdobeRGB from now on,

after that observation I search the Raw exif with cameras Adobe or SRGB option and find the different tags I mention and I assume for some reason Lightroom reads that tags and assign a different initial colour space so the SRGB saved photos have the above problem.

i can't find a solution with the exif tag to force Lightroom to see the same tag, only edit with exiftool.

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Cheers
Costas

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smafdy Regular Member • Posts: 494
Re: Question about color profiles and posting to the web....

I believe sRGB is still the safe bet. It's the lowest common denominator color space, if not still pretty much universal for browser displays.

I could be wrong, but haven't heard any news of color space/browser compatibility/rendering changes.

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