Pictures look great in Photoshop, but when I upload to web, all funky?

Editor’s note: This is a poorly written, almost no real technical specificity, only meant to springboard you in to your own exploration on the subject. But the impact was so impressive, so huge that I have to say for me it’s as big as the actual implementation of the world wide web.
First off, I’ve been digitizing 35mm prints and negs, since 1994. I still consider myself a middle of the road kinda guy when it comes to the “magic” behind the scenes both in hardware and the inner workings of the internets. I can say that I just stumbled head long in to something that really needs bringing to the forefront for us huddled masses.
Have you ever been sitting at your computer, monkeying around in Photoshop or similar, working on your precious images? Getting them just right? Then uploading to your blog or something like Flickr only to view them online and find they’ve lost their luster? Cute little white babies now have grey skin? The reds don’t have the intensity they did only moments ago? I sure have and figured these online photographic web based communities must be compressing them to some degree and they lose their punch. I mean, I have my ICC monitor profile loaded! Heck, have even used a Spyder to calibrate my monitor in the past.
I was wrong. My brother inlaw, Darkleynoone has been voicing this same concern. While in Photoshop, his images are great, but then when he uploads to Flickr, the intensity is gone. Lighter skin tones turn grey, the immense reds are toned down. I’ve noticed the same thing and gave him my best explanation, “I got no idea. Compression and you lose your color bits?”
I was wrong. It occurred to me this morning that really sounds like a color space issue. I spent some time on google and I was on the right track. Then, I read it. I felt like such an idiot, I’d known it all the time and not realized it. I knew the answer and didn’t apply myself. When you’re editing your images in Photoshop, it’s managing your color space, this would be sRGB if you have it correctly. Your DSLR should be set to sRGB if you have it correctly. But you know what? Your goddam browser is showing you some ilk of RGB. That’s right, different programs show you different color profiles. From your image editing software, operating system viewer to your browser, different color profiles even if you have your ICC profile loaded.
After spending all day discussing this with the two brother inlaws I work with Organtitus says, “Firefox prolly has a plug-in for that.”
They do! I did a search for the Firefox plugin by typing in color management. It wasn’t until I got home that I was able to download it, configure it to my i-mac, and restart firefox and go check out Flickr.
I felt as though I’d been punched in the face, kicked in the groin and tossed to the floor. Just using Firefox on my mac, viewing Flicker, it was just like that. Cracky, KuFlup and a Crunch. The ICC embedded images on Flickr jumped out at me like a 3 legged wolverine on acid and a cup of hot joe.
It’s an entirely new world. I’m here to testify!
Of course this is all pretty much fluff here, but supported by web-based fact on solid ground. You’ll need to search for WEB BROWSER COLOR MANAGEMENT or some such in google and do some work on your end. But I’m telling you, you’re missing 30% + of the web’s intensity by NOT doing this for your browser.
Here’s a link regarding Web Browser Color Management that helped a lot on my travels forward. The approximation is maybe 90% of the world wide web cruising community knows nothing of this and they carry on just fine. But if you have the discerning eye, this is critical. It’s changed my life.
This software and technology was tested on a 2 month old i-mac and a PC running XP sportin’ a Viewsonic P810.
xo, Biggles

11 thoughts on “Pictures look great in Photoshop, but when I upload to web, all funky?

  1. Wow! You have come a long way! For someone who once said “. . .way too many words in this message . . .” you have certainly described an important element in colour repro’s for those of us still messing around in stumbleland! Thanks!

  2. Hey Ryan,
    That is weird. I’ve been paid to work and with PC’s since 1984, unix, apple and microlame. Browsers are new to me and have never had a plug-in such as this pre-installed, up and running on any OS. I just installed Ubunto 9.10 and can’t find this plug-in on my system. Well, maybe Ubunto has finally come of age and will be able to beat Apple at it’s 20 + year monopoly in Photography and Desktop Publishing. I will be impressed, but not with consumer quality PC parts.
    xo, Biggles

    It was apparently a speed issue with older versions of their color correction process, now that’s is faster it should be on by default. You might have to make a new profile if you upgraded from Firefox 2 to Firefox 3, sometimes older settings remain in place over the new defaults. I’d still stick with using windows or apple for photo editing, at least until there is a native version of Photoshop, GIMP can only do 8 bit editing.

  4. Hey Ryan,
    You got me on that, I have no idea. As I stated, I’m a novice here. I just installed the latest version of FF. Gimp rules !!!
    xo, Biggles

  5. About a year ago my Photoshop CS2 started displaying images significantly darker than the same image displayed in a browser (both Firefox and IE). I know it didn’t start out that way. My monitor is calibrated. The RGB working space in my PS was sRGB IEC61966-2.1. After some questions/answers on the forums, I set the PS working space to Monitor RGB and now images match between Photoshop and browsers. All the advice I’ve read has been to use sRGB in PS for web use, but that didn’t work; Monitor RGB did.
    Comments invited. I don’t pretend to understand all this color management stuff.

  6. Hey Doc,
    Thanks for this. Passed it on to DH (who actually understands this kinda stuff). Way cool. Made any cool meals in your vintage decsoware lately?
    SIncerely …..