Chris MacAskill wrote:
|> I'd love it if together we could get some momentum for
|> Apple to implement the easy fix that makes this right.
Wow, Chris, well, if it's momentum you wanted, I think you got it,
considering that you got more comments on your post than I have pageviews
on mine, I guess there's some benefit to being the head of a popular site
like yours. 🙂
I see that even Dave Hyatt responded to your note, which is excellent. I wrote to him directly myself, but got no reply. He's someone who can
actually do something at Apple.
One thing I got from the article and from the comments is that people seem
to think that setting the monitor profile is a good way to address this
situation. However, that's trying to cancel out one mistake with another.
The monitor profile is data that indicates how to convert
device-independent color data into actual photons, and that data is
necessarily dependent on the physical characteristics of the individual LCD
or CRT. sRGB was designed to mimic the average such device (circa 10 years
ago), but it would be a remarkable coincidence for any particular
display's physical characteristics to actually match sRGB, so setting its profile
to sRGB is correct only in a remarkablely coincidental situation.
The root of the OSX problem is that it makes a poor guess as to the color
space of an unprofiled image, and so given that, how can it possibly hope
to convert properly from the (misunderstood) device-independent color data
of the image to the device-dependent data required of the display device? You can try to compensate by changing the monitor profile to something less
accurate that seems to give nice results, but you can probably get the same
effect by smearing an appropriately colored block of Jello™ in your
eyes. Both seem effective in the short run, but are probably not good
The consensus among the comments on your post seems to be that the
paramount importance is for colors to match across technologies.... images,
flash, html/css, etc., and that such matching should take precedence over
accurate color rendering. Clearly, the matching is important because, as
you point out in your post's examples, not doing so can create a worse
effect than coordinated-but-inaccurate colors.
However, what no one seems to mention is that the need for coordination
tends to be restricted to, well, when it's needed, and that there are times
when proper colors are clearly more important, such as when displaying the
rich beauty of one's photographic work (such as on a web page with a
colorless background, like your
photo-hosting site does.)
I don't doubt the difficulty faced by Dave Hyatt at Apple, but here's a
suggestion I've made before for OSX that goes a long way toward solving the
issues in a way that is sensitive to the context: respect an image's
color-space information if it's there, and if not, coordinate the color
space with that of flash/css/whatever.
This might sound to be exactly like what OSX does now, but the big
difference is that OSX currently ignores tagged color profiles. All digital cameras today (well, at least any I've ever heard of) mark the
color space in the image metadata with a simple one-word note, rather than
with a full-blown embedded color profile. The EXIF/DCF standards that
cameras tend to adhere to currently allow sRGB and AdobeRGB to be noted
this way. The benefit is that it takes only a few bytes, but the drawback
is that no browser recognizes it, not even Safari.
May 2007 Update Much to my embarrassment, I've only just realized
that Windows browsers do not default to sRGB, but rather, are unmanaged,
and so they treat all images in the same
sort-of-random, sort-of-close-to-sRGB way that Safari treats unprofiled images.
As such, the next paragraph is wrong.
(Outside of OSX, it's not usually an issue because most cameras produce
only sRGB, and most browsers are on Windows which blindly assumes sRGB, and
hence it becomes an issue mostly for Safari and other OSX browsers).
The beauty of this approach is that it keeps color coordination among page
components when needed (because web designers making mastheads and logos
and stuff don't tag their images with color-space information), yet allows
people who upload images from their point-n-shoot or pro-dSLR to expect
them to be seen with the most accurate colors their audience's monitors can
produce. It would even let SmugMug have color-managed thumbnails!
One would hope that in the future, Flash and such will all be properly
color managed (and no one is waiting for this more than Dave, I'm sure
🙂), but until then, doesn't this seem like a reasonable
compromise? You can then get proper colors where it matters most, and
people can leave their monitors set with the profile that's most
appropriate for the monitor and not to an artificial profile
designed to cater to some specific misinterpreted content.
The next step, then, would get the folks in Redmond to respect color
profiles.....but I won't be holding my breath!