Color Management – Web

For this post, I am guessing that many of you are not going to need to read it. And it is one of those good news – bad news things, at least for me. So to save some of your some trouble, the bottom line is that if you want to get your images looking right on the web, make sure that the color profile settings are for sRGB and not anything else.

Okay, now about my lessons learned for the day;- (

I have working on my Blurb book recently, first one I hope will be for my series In Passing, and the second book should be for SoFoBoMo. So the big tip (Thanks Gordon!!) that I found for Blurb is to pay attention to the color management, not only for Color but also for Black and White. So back to school for me on color management.

Color management can also be daunting, but like any good onion, you just keep peeling the layers off and eventually you get most of it. So I thought.

The Blurb book printing is keyed off the color profile/space, althought not transfered with the image itself when downloaded to Blurb, but assumed that it is right. And the Blurb color profile (ICC) space is based on the color space is sRGB and not any other. If you use Adobe RGB for your normal workflow and do not make the change to sRGB, you will not get what you had anticipated in the final book.

So how does this relate to the Web, eh? Well that sRGB color space requirment looked very familiar. So when I did my basic web color managment research, I quickly found (again) that the web works off the sRGB color space. If you prepare an image with any other color space or color profile, what you upload is not what you are going to see. Oh oh.  Stare – stare – stare (then some words that my Grandmother would not approve of!).

Oh yes. I have been blogging for a year (this month) as well as maintaining my own web site and I have never ever converted any of my images from the Adobe RGB color space to the sRGB color space before using the Photoshop ‘save for the web’. I had noticed a slight tonal change to my Black and White toned images from my Photoshop version to my web version, but I just passed it off as a ‘monitor’ calibration issue. Yikes!! My images were now saved in sRGB for the web, but I had not soft proofed them to be sure that in the sRGB color space that they looked like my working Adobe RGB images.

So you might say that one of the things I will be doing NEW for my second year of blogging, is to convert my images from the Adobe RGB to the sRGB color profiles for my images before saving them for the web. I am NOT going back to my previous posts and redoing the images. That would be insanity. Okay, then maybe I might.

Er,… no I will not;- )

But that does leave me in a quandry about my web site, as none of those images were prior converted to sRGB and adjusted to my Adobe RGB versions as well. And that will be a big project. So all the NEW stuff will be converted first into sRGBand tweaked, but what about all the other ealier web images??

I think I need a drink and I might not wait for my 5pm happy hour. BIG Sigh.

Best regards, Doug

BTW, I did just work out my Hue/Saturation conversion for my series In Passing as to make the tweaks for my sRGB images to appear like my Adobe RGB images. Thus, the image Randy posted with this is my FIRST image using my revised web color management workflow. You can compare it with the image in my blog post yesterday.

12 thoughts on “Color Management – Web

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  1. Doug, that little bit of psychology worked: “I know that many of you are not going to read it …”. Hah! That just made me read it and I’m glad that I did.

    I learned about this color management slippery slope about a year ago, or less perhaps.

    I had a picture that had lots of yellows and greens. Every time that I export the picture, loaded it up the website and had a look, it looked ghastly. Finally, I converted it to sRGB, instead of Adobe RGB, and it looked ghastly on the screen, but after some tweaks here and there with the saturation slider, I was able to get the color to look decent.

    Now, that’s the first thing that I do when I am about to post an picture to the web. Welcome to the club!

  2. The good news, I have started to to use sRGB color space and have now joined the club;- )

    And I think that there is still more for me to learn, as even the image posted here has a slightly warmer tone than what I see on my calibrated desktop monitor…

  3. Hi Doug,

    You might want to read this pdf, if you haven’t seen it already.

    Click to access blurb-color-management.pdf

    The approach I took for blurb is essentially what is described there

    I edit the images to a finished version. Then soft proof them with the output space colour profile – for the HP5000. Typically this means I need to boost the contrast and saturation to get them looking the same again.

    Then I convert that tweaked file to sRGB. Otherwise, when you load it into blurb’s booksmart software, the ICC profile gets stripped and an sRGB assignment (nasty, not a conversion) is applied.

    So edit as normal, softproof to HP5000, convert to sRGB.

  4. Gordon, I just found that color management link this afternoon and have been reading it quite closely!


  5. On a completely unrelated note, picking projects, coming up with projects ideas – what’s your approach to that ? Do you discuss this in your blog at all ?

    I think my problem is I have ideas then never follow through on them – for the last couple of years I’d been thinking about photographing road side grave markers. It kept popping up in my head. Never did get around to doing it or even starting.

    Then I saw lenswork #74 :) (which in part is why I’m now bothering you)

    I’ve had an on-going desire to start projects, but not a whole lot of success in actually doing that.

  6. The irony of this is that all the snap-shooters out there who doesn’t know the first thing about color management get this right. Why? they never use anything but sRGB when they shoot directly to jpg. The serious shooters get it wrong for a long time because they know that using AdobeRGB or ProPhoto “is good”. Then they spend some frustrating time scratching their head before they finally figure out that there is a color space for every need and use.

    Man did I spend some hours before I figured out why my photos looked so different in my web browser than in LightRoom.

    Now I have a ready made script (or action or whatever), that I use to prepare the images that goes on the web. It resize the image, convert the color space, applies output sharpening and applies the border and copyright notice. This works well on most images, and the very few that requires a different treat, I go through the steps manually. Since the web images are so small, and every monitor is different, I don’t see any need for fine tuning them the way I do for print.

  7. Gordon, regarding the development of a project, that what I had just planned to write about, but the color management thing sent me sideways. I still plan to write about projects at length this week, so a little patience;- )

  8. FYI, Photoshop CS3’s Save For Web feature contains an option to automatically convert an image to sRGB. The original file is untouched, of ccourse, just the new JPEG is saved in sRGB.

    To select the option, click on the fly-out menu next to the Presets pulldown. One of the options is ‘Convert to sRGB’.

  9. Daniel, I have been using CS3 to make my conversion, so I was uploading a sRGB file, BUT I was not pre-visualizing the sRGB color space while I was completing my image tonality tweaks before I saved the image for the web. So I was getting slightly different results for my web image than I intended.

  10. This is helpful, but as of yet, I have not successfully figured out a workflow where the images on the web look as good as they do in Photoshop. Even when I convert to sRGB before using the Save for Web command, I can never get it to match up quite right. The web version always looks darker with higher contrast. Adjusting this with curves to try to get it back to normal usually just messes things up more.

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