Problems with Some Websites Stripping Color Profile Metadata

JG_Coleman

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I've noticed a problem with my images displaying properly on certain websites and I've been struggling with this problem for a few days now. I'm hoping that someone can shed some light on this for me, because I'm stuck scratching my head on this one.

I uploaded a photograph to Flickr a few days ago (screenshot at right), and it displays pretty much exactly as it was when I exported it from Lightroom (as an sRGB JPEG). All good so far. But, when I posted the same shot to OutdoorPhotographer.com (screenshot on left) for one of their photo contests, I noticed that the photograph displays something like 1/3-stop to 1/2-stop brighter than it's supposed to. As you can see, the difference isn't immense, but it is noticeable... in the OP.com version, the shadows are opened up too much and the highlights in the snow on the distant rocks get too close to being blown-out.

At the suggestion of someone on another forum (where I wasn't really able to get the bottom of how to handle this despite getting some useful advice) I ran the URLs for both the Flickr version of the image and the OP.com version of the image through an online EXIF metadata reader. The Flickr version's color profile metadata was set to "sRGB", which was pretty much what I expected because the source file was exported as an sRGB JPEG. The version being displayed on OP.com, though, had no color profile metadata whatsoever, nor any embedded profile or anything... the EXIF metadata reader literally warned something along the lines of "Colors may be processed randomly by browsers".

So, the best I can gather is that my photo displays correctly on Flickr because it is allowed to maintain its sRGB metadata. While OP.com strips that metadata off and, presumably, lets the browser guess as to how it ought to be colored.

But what I'm having a hard time understanding is how I can remedy this problem? If OP.com is not using the attached color profile data to render the colors, then what kind of color rendering is being applied?

Also, is there any reliable way to prevent this disparity from occurring between Flickr and OP.com? My only thought for recourse would be to create a seperate version of each photograph with the exposure decreased a bit, then upload the darker version to OP.com in order to get a properly exposed version to show on their website after its brightened up by their image handling. I suppose this will work, but it's an awfully imprecise way of handling things and it just kills me to have to resort to such a hack method.

Any help or insight into this problem that anyone can provide would be greatly appreciated.
 

KmH

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You can't remedy the problem.

By the same token you can't ensure anyone else is looking at the photos you posted using a browser that is color profile aware, or is viewing your photo on a calibrated display.

Such is the beast known as the Internet.
 
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JG_Coleman

JG_Coleman

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Well... that's crappy news... but I'd rather know the truth of the matter than scouring the Internet for a week looking for "solutions" to no avail.

That sucks, though... I'm sort of disheartened by the whole thing. So much work to tweak a photograph exactly as it should be, only for it to be rendered in such an imprecise way. It is what it is, I guess.

It's funny... whenever I looked at a photo contest website and saw that photos could be entered either online or with prints (by mail, of course), I always thought," Why in the world would somebody bother sending in a print when you can just enter online in minutes?" I guess that I've finally answered my own question. At least with a print, you know exactly what the judges will be looking at. If OP.com's lack of interest in color profile data is any reflection of a larger phenomenon, who knows what judges are going to see when they browse your entry?
 

Bitter Jeweler

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How do you know the judges looking at the print have the correct lighting while viewing the print?
 

Bitter Jeweler

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Don't worry about what you can't control. You'll be that much happier for it. :)
 

Garbz

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For the record there is no need for "correct" metadata for sRGB. The reason it is the standard is that sRGB is the assumed colour profile in the absence of an embedded colour profile. The fact that the image has been stripped of the sRGB profile should have no bearing on the colour change.

In reality you are at the mercy of the website in this case. All these websites recompress and re-work images into their standard ways, which is why sites like flickr give you 5 different sizes when you upload a picture. If they don't treat your picture right your ****outtaluck.
 

KmH

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How do you know the judges looking at the print have the correct lighting while viewing the print?
There are photography contests, and there are photography contests.

The top, juried print competitions here in the US ensure each judge uses the same lighting when viewing an entry.
 

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