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#20842

Sometimes I lose track, and this is one of those times.   I don’t remember if we talked about colour spaces here or it was all on other sites.  Anyway, opening your second photo in Flickr, and scrolling down the EXIF data, eventually we see:

Color Mode – RGB
ICCProfile Name – Adobe RGB (1998)

If I view one of the files I posted on Flickr, and scroll through the EXIF data I see:

Color Mode – RGB
ICCProfile Name – sRGB IEC61966-2.1

So, what’s the difference?  Adobe RGB(1998) is a bigger colour space than sRGB IEC61966-2.1.  You might think a bigger colour space would be better, but sometimes it’s not.  The thing is, JPEG colour is made up of 3 bytes, so you have 0-255, or 256 values for a red channel, a green channel and a blue channel (RGB).  Now, the numbers are just numbers, until you tell your program how to interpret them, and the ICC Profile is what tells your program what the numbers mean.

The other thing you need to know is that while some software can locate the profile name in the JPEG file, and has that profile table available to use, other programs don’t.  And most of the programs that don’t will use sRGB, regardless of the name stored in the JPEG file.

So, what happens is that one program displays this really great looking image because it knows what the Adobe RGB numbers are supposed to look like, and another program applies the sRGB table, and displays the file incorrectly.  The effect is that the incorrectly displayed file looks less vibrant.  This is probably what your phone is doing to you.

There are several good web pages that discuss colour gamuts and profiles in detail.  Thinking about that, I’m pretty sure a recent thread had links to a couple of them.  Anyhow, the above is the 5 cent, layman’s version of what is going on, and if you really want to get into the details, we can provide the links again.

Most of the time, I shoot to raw files.  The raw converters are set up to pass the files into Photoshop using the ProPhoto  RGB profile (a much larger colour space than either sRGB or Adobe RGB), which is used for editing and printing locally.  I got tired of doing the same few steps over and over when preparing files for Flickr, my own web pages, and/or off-site printing, so I recorded actions that do the last few steps.  The actions flatten layers, apply unsharp mask, convert the profile to sRGB, convert the file to 8 bits, save the file in the right folder, and close the image in Photoshop.   One click instead of eight, but if you are doing 500 files at a time, it adds up.