Monitor Matters – An Update!

Hey, so I have learned a little something new on this topic.  This is an update to my post Monitor Matters, in which I wondered why my photos looked so off while I was working on a post on my laptop.  What do you know, there really is an answer!

First I should probably re-title this post to A Beast Called Color Management.    The long of it… you can read here, as honestly I can barely get my head around it.  But the short of it… if I’ve even got this right, is that, yes, an image can look considerably different if you are viewing it in a browser that uses only “half” color management (Google Chrome/Explorer). On the other hand if you are using Firefox or Apple’s browser (Safari), they use “full” color management, and you’re seeing the image pretty much as I am (minor variations in your monitor settings aside).  Just like the article, I did my own test and opened this image

Hello Fall

on my iPad, in Firefox, and in Google Chrome, and compared all three to the image on my calibrated monitor. The iPad took top honors, Firefox looked pretty nice on my uncalibrated monitor, and Google… well, I won’t be using that browser any more as part of my photo workflow in the future.  Just thought you might like to know it’s not your eyes playing tricks on you… it’s your browser.

Until next time,

p.s.  All research on this topic and explanation so I could understand it is thanks to my dad 🙂

3 thoughts on “Monitor Matters – An Update!

  1. Hi Maria,

    I too am a photographer and web designer. I completely empathize with your confusion. I am also an engineer who has worked on critical color matching of monitors used in film and broadcasting for over 30 years.

    Volumes have been written and continue to be written on the art and science of color management for image printing and displaying. Calibrating your monitor with your chosen software and your printer or lab service is a must. To complicate matters every monitor, unless it is a “Standards” monitor (costing tens of thousands of dollars) is different, even within the same model and manufacturer. One also needs to concern themselves with the color temperature and gamma correction of the viewing instrument as well as the chemistry used in the manufacturer of the individual pixels or points of light. In addition, one needs to consider things like lighting levels in the viewing area, color temperature of the ambient lighting in the viewing area and even the color of paint on the walls. All this affects color perception in the viewer and reproduction in both transmitted (viewing on a monitor) and reflective (viewing a print) image reproduction.

    You perceive color different than I or anyone else. Human color perception is very subjective. The only way to quantify the accuracy and reproducibility of color, hue and luminance is with a calibrated test instrument like a waveform monitor and vectorscope. If you don’t have access to these instruments, you may want to get hold of a color chart like an x-rite color checker and include it in the scene you are photographing. When you put your image up on your monitor you at least have a standard to visually compare it to.

    From your article I can see that you are well on your way to understanding all this stuff. You should however not abandon any user agent (browser) in your color management workflow. For example if you stop considering Google’s Chrome browser your work might not look like you want it to to the zillons of Chrome users out there. The same for Internet Explorer or any other browser for that matter.

    Problems begin when less savvy photographers than you abandon color management all together. I can see that you want your work to display as good as it can in any situation. The next mountain to overcome is aspect ratio accuracy of your web images on Apple’s Retina display with its higher pixel density-but that’s a horse of a completely different color (pun intended). Good article and a great catalyst for further discussion and study.


    Valley Forge, PA

    1. Oh no, “aspect ration accuracy”… sounds even more foreign. Joking aside…when I delve into the technical side of things, I never really know if I’m getting it across in my writing, so thank you for attesting that at least I am on my way to understanding this stuff – that’s exactly how I feel…that I’m on my way. Oh, and big thanks for your tip to “get hold of a color chart.” Such a simple tool for such a complicated topic.

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