Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Note of interest only to people picky about photographs

I have occasionally tried to figure out why my photos on my blog appear washed-out. I had assumed that Blogger was stripping out color profiles, which, if you care about the appearance of, say, an old color photo you have tried to restore, is certainly not a good thing. On the other hand, it's not really a big deal.

I recently began uploading a lot of photos to Flickr, which allows much larger file sizes than Blogspot, and, since I am paying them money for storage (not much, but still...) I was unhappy to find the same problem. So I looked into it. It turns out Flickr does _not_ strip out color profiles, but if you are using a browser that is not color-space aware, the end result is the same--a washed-out photo.

I found this out by trial and error, except in reverse--ongoing error, and then finally, some experimentation.

I am using a Mac, and I normally use Firefox as my browser, which, sadly, does not seem to handle color properly. Otherwise I very much like Firefox. Hopefully Firefox on Windows machines does a better job, but I suspect not.

For Macintosh users, the current version of Safari does handle color correctly at least to the extent of displaying sRGB more or less as intended.

So you Mac people, you should probably use Safari when viewing Photos on Flickr, at least if you want to see them the way the photographer had in mind.

(I can't advise Windows users, of course, having not used a Windows machine since I retired. Hopefully there exists some Windows browser that will handle color decently well, which, minimally, would mean doing something more or less correct with sRGB photos.)

But none of this will make the slightest bit of difference for photos stored on Blogspot, because as far as I can tell, they do, indeed, strip out color profiles.

I recently restored some 1987 photos of a trip to Real de Catorce in Mexico to some semblance of how they originally looked, and put them up on Flickr. If the question of color profiles interests you (or if old Mexican towns interest you) you can try these photos with different browsers. Safari makes a big difference on my Mac.

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