Hopping Mad About Color

brown treehopper on a leaf

A treehopper on an all kinds of green leaf, Family Membracidae

“A Colorful Mess.” “Don’t Give Me No Color.” “The Art of High Blood Pressure and Color Management.” Etc. Many title came to mind for this post, and I could keep going on. Originally I was going to talk about focal planes and flat surfaces (and the bugs that tease you with them). But then, as I was creating the post, I noticed the green on the leaf shown above, was more deeply saturated compared to when I viewed the image in GIMP or a MacOS Finder window (preview by hitting the space bar on the selected file). I thought, “Why does this happen?!” I have seen it before, and this time not feeling inspired to write much, I decided that I’d figure it out.

The longstoryshort is, the matter rests with color management. The bane of my photographic existence (well, one of them). This is how the Wiki defines it,

In digital imaging systems, color management is the controlled conversion between the color representations of various devices, such as image scanners, digital cameras, monitors, TV screens, film printers, computer printers, offset presses, and corresponding media.

It’s basically making the colors of my image display on my monitor the same as they would in the output of whatever other device they appear on. (I use the DataColor Spyder4 Colorimeter to calibrate my monitor; it’s not the top-rated, but well-rated and for the most part I am happy with the results.) Part of the problem of beating your head against the drum on this, in the forum of Internet publishing, comes from the fact that while my monitor may be properly calibrated, the user on the other end, his or her monitor or device might not be. Still, in order to attain satisfactory results it is important for the photographer, especially if the work is going into print form in one way or another. I don’t want to do all the post-processing computer work to find out later that my image didn’t look like I wanted at all. Essentially, it’s a professional approach. The reason it is maddening to me, is that there seems to be no end to it.

In this particular case my web browser, Firefox, displayed the colors differently. It probably doesn’t matter much; I’ve already done the editing work in a calibrated situation. The main benefit is that I likely will be able to see others’ photos and images as their authors intended. Fortunately, I managed to find a relatively painless solution with the Color Management Add-on for Firefox. The user directs, through the Color Management extension’s preferences [Tool –> Add-ons, or shift+comman+A in MacOS], the browser to use whichever color profile file (.icc) the user selects. Finding the color profile on your computer may be a whole other adventure. I haven’t done any research on other browsers like Chrome or Safari, but I imagine they have a similar color management component.

So my longstoryshort is a little longer than expected, but on the bright side, I found some inspiration to write. And now, I will work on bringing my blood pressure back down. (That’s only a half-joke. Actually a quarter-joke.)

Oh yeah. Treehopper.


6 thoughts on “Hopping Mad About Color

  1. Great Treehopper. Firefox is, I believe alone in allowing color management. I wrote about this and my trials and tribulations. I calibrate with a black cloth over my screen. I use the same puck you do with software called Coloreyes (helped with my last iMac. The newer IMacs are better.


    1. Thanks! Well, I guess Firefox is a special bird..er, fox indeed. :)

      I use the basic software that came with the puck (that’s a new one to me!). Looked up Coloreyes briefly; looks interesting. I will have to put it on file for future consideration. I’m going to try the black cloth over the screen. I’ve got some test prints coming in the mail so hopefully I know soon if I’m on the right track.

    1. That or OCD and the Blind Man (because I think I’ll be blind from the two inch distance I spend half my time staring at my monitor).

      (That’s a joke about the two inches. Mostly.)

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