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Photo Tip Thursday: Color Spaces

Lately, I’ve received a lot of questions about problems faced when exporting photos for use on blogs and Instagram.  One of the most baffling problems is a desaturation of photos after they’re exported and viewed on an iPhone or web browser.  This is a problem that I encountered myself when I first started to use more advanced photo editing software such as Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop.  After much researching and experimenting, I found that the culprit was the color space that I was exporting my photos in.

Color spaces are kind of hard to understand, so in order to keep it simple, I’m going to give a very broad explanation to show you why they’re so important.  A color space is in general, a defined set of colors which can be used to display a digital image. Some color spaces have more colors, while some have fewer.

As you can see above, the sRGB {represented by the black triangle} color space has a smaller range of colors than the ProPhotoRGB {white triangle} color space.  Both color spaces share all the basic colors that we recognize {remember the acronym R.O.Y. G. B.I.V.?}, it’s just that the ProPhotoRGB supports many more shades of each color.  That’s the basic concept.

The thing you have to watch out for is that the internet and your iPhone only properly display images in the sRGB color space!  Support for the sRGB color space is pretty much universal among all digital devices, whereas some displays {such as the iPhone’s} cannot reproduce all of the colors that the ProPhotoRGB color space has to offer.

So, when you bring up the export dialogue in your editing program of your choice, make sure to select sRGB as your color space.  This way your image will display properly no matter what device it’s being viewed on.

To do this in Photoshop, click ‘File’ -> ‘Save for Web’ and then make sure that the ‘Convert to sRGB’ box is selected.

In Lightroom, select the photos you want to export, then click ‘File’ -> ‘Export’ and then select ‘sRGB’ in the color space tab from the ‘File Settings’ section.

I hope this helps anyone who has had trouble with this issue.  Thanks for reading!

  1. Anonymous says:

    Love all these photography posts. Would love to know more about getting a blog photo into the Instagram square. Do you take these from farther away in order to get a full shot, resize them down? Not all portrait vs landscape photos don't all fit the square mold. Thank so much.

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