Unidentified Color Management Problem

paper wasp mimic fly

An unidentified fly does an excellent paper wasp mimic.

When I found this insect it was hanging upside down as you see it in the photo, resting perfectly still. It was so still, and on top of that, so weird looking, that I thought it was dead. Specifically, a paper wasp dead from a fungal parasite. Of course, on closer look I could see it had the features of a fly (those antennae are a dead giveaway, for starters). It still looked dead, but I went in for a fairly protracted photo shoot, having trouble getting a good angle. After I got tired of shooting (i.e. frustrated with my inability to focus well), I did what I usually do: I “made sure” it was dead. It’s funny how a little prodding can turn a lifeless looking body into a fidgety, skittish bug. It was probably for the best, i.e. my mental health’s best. I managed a few more shots and then it flew off into the woods.

At the time I assumed it was a thick-headed fly (family Conopidae), as they tend to do pretty good wasp imitations. But going through BugGuide.net, I noticed the proboscises and antennae did not match; in addition the fleshy “bump” on the head (hence “thick-headed”) is not apparent. So my stab in the dark was family Syrphidae, hover flies, but I couldn’t find anything. Rather than go through the all the families in a random quest, this one is going to be unidentified for the time being.

Now you may be wondering, what does that have to do with color management? Well, nothing actually. The color management problem, which remains similarly “unidentified” for the time being, came into focus (oh boy) when I tried to process this image. My blood pressure is rising just thinking about it. Longstoryshort: I opened the NEF file in Nikon View NX2, did some straightforward editing, exported to a TIF, and opened the result in GIMP. The colors were noticeably different, as you can hopefully see in the images below:

(Note that unlike the comparison images, the featured image at the top of this post has been fully-edited — the one good thing to come out of this frustration was that in my searching for an answer, I found a script to separate layers into High and Low Pass for GIMP, which was helpful in tamping down the glare on the leaves at the upper right corner.)

I also opened the TIF file in Preview (the Mac OS image viewer), and it appeared slightly different than the GIMP rendition, though pretty close. This phenomenon in and of itself isn’t cause for alarm, but when I looked at the color management setting for each program, I hit a brick wall:

The problem is they appear to be using the same profiles, in particular the monitor profile (which you have to click “Change Display Profile” to see in View NX2). Also of note, when I turned off color management on GIMP, it appeared to render exactly like Preview. I have discussed this issue before, in similar veins, but obviously haven’t gotten very far with it. I did some reading up over at Cambridge in Color and some other sites, which helped my general understanding of color management, but it didn’t really help with my specific problem. I also looked up Adobe Lightroom; it might be time to — though honestly, I think it would be unnecessary if I could just figure this out; I don’t even know if I’d have the same problem.

Anyway, the venting portion of this post is over. Any help or commiseration is very welcomed (though the help if preferential). In the meanwhile, I’m wishing you all a happy, color management-free Monday.

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6 thoughts on “Unidentified Color Management Problem

  1. The Issue could simply be too much colour management. GIMP may be assuming everything else is not colour managed. Good idea to start with a hardware solution to colour management. Hope this helps.

    1. Thanks, Victor. My biggest problem with this, is that the exported imaged is so different from the View NX2 version that it is supposedly supposed to come from. The saturation/contrast/temperature are different, and I can’t understand why. I also tried toggling the setting that embeds the sRGB profile in the JPG/TIFF output, but it doesn’t seem to do anything. I just don’t seem to be doing anything helpful even though it seems like there’s probably a simple solution.

    1. It’s probably better for you health, Pat. :o) Really it’s computer software shenanigans. The good news is, I may have solved my problem: I realized Nikon released some new software. I’ve downloaded it, and now I just have to test it out further. Early returns are promising!

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