If you’re new to digital photo editing you’ve probably had this experience: you export a perfectly edited photo, but the JPEG looks all “wrong”—the colors are totally different! Actually, they not. As Unmesh Dinda from PiXimperfect explains, you just haven’t sorted out your color space properly.
Seasoned photographers and Photoshop users are well-aware of color space, but almost all of us made this mistake as a beginner. The issue, as Dinda explains in the video above, is that you probably exported your photo without first converting it to the most common and widely-supported color space: sRGB.
The three main color spaces used by photographers—sRGB, Adobe RGB and ProPhoto RGB—can each display a different range of colors. sRGB is the most limited, but it’s also the most widely supported; Adobe RGB is next; and ProPhoto RGB is so massive it actually covers colors that aren’t even visible to the naked eye.
Issues arise when you edit a photo in ProPhoto RGB or Adobe RGB, export the photo as is, and then try to post it online. Not all browsers, apps, or social media platforms will be able to display the wider color space, and will instead display the image as sRGB, leading to a dull or flat looking photo.
You can save yourself the trouble by converting to sRGB at export and ensuring the widest possible compatibility. In some cases, just embedding the ICC profile is enough, but for most web-based photo sharing, you’ll want to convert to sRGB at export unless you want a large percentage of people to see it all “wrong.”
To dive a bit deeper into this subject and learn how to make sure all of your exports look “right” no matter what app or browser or social platform your audience is using, check out the full video up top.