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Posted (edited)
Actually I think the thread has got more than a little diverted from the central point. I upload as Adobe RGB for the reasons that Richard and others have described, it is a wider colour space and for high end uses (I should be so lucky!) it can potentially produce better results. However if Alamy convert automatically to sRGB and supply all customers with sRGB then I am wasting my time and should have uploaded as sRGB in the first place. That's why I can't understand why Alamy don't specify which they require. No harm is done if Alamy convert my file to sRGB as part of the upload process.
 
Actually I can't believe that Alamy don't handle this in the proper way, it's just that they don't want to complicate our lives by explaining it to us.
 
The major source of confusion for me is when they say they 'ignore' the colour space, that was a direct quote in the other thread. You just can't do that, just as surely you can't sensibly provide untagged images to the client. I mentioned before rather flippantly that it was almost worth buying an image for £9.99 to see how it arrives.
 
As the video says, digital images are just numbers, values from 0 to 255 in Red, Green & Blue but it is the colour space that makes sense of these numbers, gives them scale. If you want to see what happens when you play fast and loose with colour spaces you could take a RAW image in Lightroom and then export two versions, one in Adobe RGB and one in sRGB, name them accordingly, they will look essentially very similar, if not identical, on screen. Then in Photoshop 'Assign' Adobe RGB to the sRGB file and similarly 'Assign' sRGB to the Adobe RGB file, see what you get. Note that you are not converting, which is OK from Adobe RGB down to sRGB, you are actually misinterpreting the colour numbers in the file such as might happen if you ignore the colour space.
 
Open each of these resulting files together in Photoshop and compare them. If you take an image in a larger colour space (Adobe RGB) and assign it to a smaller colour space (sRGB) then the colours become more muted. If you take the sRGB file and assign it to larger colour space then the colours become more saturated.
 
Ignoring colour spaces would be rather like me telling you that I live 25 South of Oxford without saying whether I mean miles or kilometers, you end up in two different places, or two different colour intensities in terms of colour space..
 
In fact I have in the past uploaded two similars, one as sRGB and one as Adobe RGB, they both look the same on the site to me so I think that Alamy handle it correctly and they're just not telling us about it.
Edited by Harry Harrison

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I wrote contributor relations at Alamy a couple months ago and asked about colour space.  I had always assumed they preferred Adobe RGB based on what I recall used to be in the information for contributors.  When I asked which one was now preferred, I received the following response:

 

"This is totally up to you and your own workflow, but we work with Adobe RGB and ignore any embedded ICC profiles when we process your images so before sending we recommend saving all images as Adobe RGB (1998)."

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19 minutes ago, MariaJ said:

"This is totally up to you and your own workflow, but we work with Adobe RGB and ignore any embedded ICC profiles when we process your images so before sending we recommend saving all images as Adobe RGB (1998)."

 

Thanks Maria, that was precisely the response that I had seen posted before. There is something very wrong with their statement in my opinion.

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So to me, does that mean if we convert to sRGB before uploading, they’ll be converted to aRGB by Alamy? If so, then I would think information would be lost, even though not readily discerned by us in the small files we see on Alamy.

I've always uploaded aRGB, myself, But when I post online like FB, I assign sRGB.

Way back, probably 12 years or so ago, I took a a few from set of senior pictures I’d shot in to be printed at a pro print shop. They came back very flat and washed out. I resubmitted in sRGB and they cam back great...color was as it should be after assigning profile.

Ever since, when I take images to be printed, I assign sRGB.

I don’t pretend to know much about color management.  I just took direction from someone else about how to fix the flat-looking prints...possibly it was the print shop. I’ve forgotten.

 

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When I have images printed by a pro lab that was recommended to my by several top wedding photographers, they always have me convert the files to sRGB for prints, and, as I soft proof them, they always come out true to what I see on my screen, but when I shoot for magazines, they always prefer AdobeRGB, although some eventually convert to CMYK when printing. A calendar publisher I send my files to also requests Adobe RGB. As far as I recall, Alamy has always preferred AdobeRGB so that it gives customers who plan to print images the widest space to work from.

 

I'm surprised that some people said MS sites ask for sRGB. I've had a small portfolio with the 4 largest MS sites for years and they all accept AdobeRGB. In fact, I believe that they all convert them to sRGB so they look punchy on the web, but since they sell a lot of extended and regular licenses for books and magazines too, I'd expect that they still want AdobeRGB. I don't recall any of them changing their requirements. 

 

I'd continue uploading AdobeRGB here, and if you are happy with the conversion that your print lab does, leave it to them. I let my lab make corrections on photos of people since skin can be tricky when you do the conversion, but if I've got a sunset or something where I am happy with the color, I tell them to print as is (after converting to sRGB and soft proofing). I have had that same question for POD sites, but the largest one seems to do the conversion well from the samples I've bought there, whereas r says that shirts and other clothing should be designed in CMYK, which can vary a lot especially if your image has a lot of green in it. I learned that the hard way when I ordered a shirt. They re-did it for me anyway and explained why AdobeRGB wasn't right in that instance. Color space can be tricky, and it's best when the lab sends you ICC profiles to work with. But if the final color space is out of your control, I'd stick with AdobeRGB, so nothing is lost. Just my two cents/pence 😎

 

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Thanks Marianne

I think that you have encapsulated my experience and come to more or less the same conclusion. The evidence among experienced professional photographers, of which I am not one, seems to be predominantly in favour of shooting aRGB. 
The issue seems to be among the various printers who drive the agency/magazine/designers etc. to seek the different colour spaces.
Since my original post I have now received the print that I ordered and it looks fine in terms of colour, at least to my eyes and that was after they automatically converted it to sRGB.

 

Thank you to everyone who has contributed to this thread. I'm not sure I'm any wiser but arguably better informed!

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Posted (edited)
12 hours ago, MariaJ said:

I wrote contributor relations at Alamy a couple months ago and asked about colour space.  I had always assumed they preferred Adobe RGB based on what I recall used to be in the information for contributors.  When I asked which one was now preferred, I received the following response:

 

"This is totally up to you and your own workflow, but we work with Adobe RGB and ignore any embedded ICC profiles when we process your images so before sending we recommend saving all images as Adobe RGB (1998)."

 

If that's true, isn't that a bit daft? Why do they ignore the embedded ICC profile? 

I think this calls for a test image or two (one sRGB the other aRGB) to see how they display on Alamy. Then I might even buy two of my own images (PU 🤣 🤣) to see what profile they send them back with. 

 

Mark

Edited by M.Chapman

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I was rather hoping that someone on here was also in a position to buy the odd Alamy image and report back, maybe in the daytime job. I'm surprised that buyers don't want to know in advance actually but although I haven't looked this time I think I've looked before through Alamy's information for buyers without success.

 

This statement seems to get copied and pasted by contributors@ in response to any question about colour space. Since we've all agreed that the subject is not that easy to grasp perhaps no one thinks to check if it makes sense. I'm actually wondering if what they actually mean is that they ignore the colour space with respect to QC, in other words upload what you like and we will deal with it. That would make sense if all images purchased were presented in sRGB, less so if they were Adobe RGB.

 

I haven't been on Alamy that long but I'm constantly surprised at how we are left trying to read the runes in order to discover what should be basic information for contributors, and for buyers come to that.

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25 minutes ago, Harry Harrison said:

I was rather hoping that someone on here was also in a position to buy the odd Alamy image and report back, maybe in the daytime job. I'm surprised that buyers don't want to know in advance actually but although I haven't looked this time I think I've looked before through Alamy's information for buyers without success.

 

This statement seems to get copied and pasted by contributors@ in response to any question about colour space. Since we've all agreed that the subject is not that easy to grasp perhaps no one thinks to check if it makes sense. I'm actually wondering if what they actually mean is that they ignore the colour space with respect to QC, in other words upload what you like and we will deal with it. That would make sense if all images purchased were presented in sRGB, less so if they were Adobe RGB.

 

I haven't been on Alamy that long but I'm constantly surprised at how we are left trying to read the runes in order to discover what should be basic information for contributors, and for buyers come to that.

 

I just tried posing as a customer and downloaded free low res previews of a couple of my images (one was uploaded as sRGB the other as aRGB). They both download as jpgs with (so far as I can see) no embedded profile at all (Alamy has stripped the profile). So my system (like most?) assumes the default sRGB profile. Therefore when I display them in a colour managed environment the sRGB image I uploaded matches what I received as a download (that's nice). But the aRGB image does not. (The downloaded image appears slightly more saturated). 

 

I also took screenshots of how the same images appear when zoomed after a search and when enlarged in AIM (using Chrome browser on Mac).  AIM enlargements and Almay search zooms appear the same as each other, but both sRGB and aRGB appear different to their uploaded and downloaded versions. 

 

For the image uploaded as sRGB, the search zoom and AIM enlarged versions appear slightly more saturated than the downloaded image (NB. system assumes sRGB profile)

For the image uploaded as aRGB, the search zoom and AIM enlarged versions appear significantly more saturated than the uploaded image and slightly more saturated than the downloaded image  (NB. system assumes sRGB profile).

 

Mmmm.... Can anyone else (who perhaps knows what they're doing 😮) confirm these observations?

 

I wonder if real full res Alamy downloads (rather than low res previews) also have no embedded profile? Does anyone here know? If not I might consider buying a couple of my own images to find out. I also might try assigning an aRGB profile to the downloaded images to see if that makes them consistent with what I saw as Alamy search zooms and AIM enlargements.

 

Mark

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Posted (edited)

My experience is that the free preview images open as unassigned RGB but a full size regular download opens as AdobeRGB. The metadata is also stripped from the preview image but not from the full size image you would receive as a client.  I'd go with AdobeRGB. Both types of images look fine in the proof setup of either one of my calibrated color spaces, sRGB and aRGB.

Edited by Marianne

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Posted (edited)

Will just add to this an old thread from summer 2013 - especially David Kilpatrick's wisdom on the different colour spaces. The issues have been discussed as long as I remember.

Scroll down - lower third.

 

https://discussion.alamy.com/topic/580-adobe-rgb-1998-vs-prophoto-rgb/

 

Niels

Edited by Niels Quist
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Posted (edited)
10 hours ago, M.Chapman said:

I just tried posing as a customer and downloaded free low res previews of a couple of my images

 

I will try to do the same today at some point just to see if I get the same results but it's certainly interesting to see that you can see differences. Actually maybe 'interesting' isn't quite the right word, maybe 'worrying' would be better. 

 

 

46 minutes ago, Niels Quist said:

The issues have been discussed as long as I remember.

Well that's worrying as well, and that from the days when Alamy actually requested Adobe 1998. Of course no one is talking here about uploading images in ProPhoto and David Kilpatrick is really talking about the best colour space to use for different applications. Given that none of us know the application that our images will be used for it makes sense to upload in the larger colour space but I'm not precious about it, if Alamy said everything needed to be in sRGB that would be fine. It's just that they don't, now they don't even say what they prefer, colour management has become something where they dare not speak its name.

 

I can't for the life of me understand why Alamy don't simply convert any images destined to be web previews to sRGB if they start out as Adobe 1998 and then if they must strip the tags, then you wouldn't be seeing any differences in the previews, but then I don't see why they don't leave them with sRGB tags once they've done that - to save space? Surely not.

 

8 hours ago, Marianne said:

a full size regular download opens as AdobeRGB. The info is stripped from the preview image but not from the full size image you would receive as a client,

 

Marianne, that's really quite crucial to this discussion, would this be one of your own images that you've been able to check on the delivery side?

 

 

Incidentally in that old thread there was also a reference to it being a "Canon/Nikon" thing. That is true in terms of which colour space you choose to work in, particularly if you shoot jpegs but that's not true of this discussion, it's not a subjective matter, it's a question of whether your images are getting messed up permanently on Alamy through a lack of guidance on which colour space to use or to mishandling if they really do 'ignore' the colour space.

Edited by Harry Harrison

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Posted (edited)
46 minutes ago, Harry Harrison said:

I will try to do the same today at some point just to see if I get the same results but it's certainly interesting to see that you can see differences. Actually maybe 'interesting' isn't quite the right word, maybe 'worrying' would be better. 

 

I think the key thing is that the difference between a correctly rendered sRGB and aRGB images are very small (barely noticeable on a standard monitor). But the difference between incorrectly rendered images is much, much larger. If I upload an aRGB to Alamy. Alamy then strip the profile (but leave the image data it contains in AdobeRGB colour space) and then I download it (as a preview) with the profile  missing, then most systems will render the image as if the image data it contains is in sRGB colour space. The image will be incorrectly rendered is producing quite a significant difference in appearance.

 

Alamy - What's the point in providing customers with download previews that contain image data in AdobeRGB colour space  (if that's what the contributor uploaded) with the profile missing when these previews will be incorrectly rendered by most systems? Shouldn't the downloadable previews be a close representation of what the customer will get if they buy the image (i.e. WYSWIG). I'm assuming here that Marianne's comment is correct that full res downloads always have AdobeRGB profile embedded.

 

The only way around this (so the downloaded preview is more WYSYWIG) is to upload sRGB. But, I wonder what processing Alamy apply to the hi-res downloads?

 

I guess there are 2 options

  1. Strip the original profile and then embed AdobeRGB profile without converting the image data to AdobeRGB colour space (even if the uploaded image was sRGB)
  2. Convert the image data to AdobeRGB colour space (if it's not already) and then embed AdobeRGB profile

Hopefully they use the second option as the first is not good practice at all.

 

Mark

Edited by M.Chapman

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1 hour ago, Niels Quist said:

Will just add to this an old thread from summer 2013 - especially David Kilpatrick's wisdom on the different colour spaces. The issues have been discussed as long as I remember.

Scroll down - lower third.

 

https://discussion.alamy.com/topic/580-adobe-rgb-1998-vs-prophoto-rgb/

 

Niels

 

Thanks for posting that - I agree 100% with what David Kilpatrick says.

 

Mark

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Posted (edited)
38 minutes ago, M.Chapman said:

I think the key thing is that the difference between a correctly rendered sRGB and aRGB images are very small (barely noticeable on a standard monitor). But the difference between incorrectly rendered images is much, much larger. If I upload an aRGB to Alamy.

 

Yes, absolutely 100% the essence of this problem . Your first point, the fact that the difference between a correctly rendered sRGB and aRGB image is slight is why this area of discussion is often dismissed as this Canon/Nikon thing. I absolutely understand anyone's reasons for choosing one or the other in their workflow, particularly in-camera jpegs.

 

Your second point, the fact that you appear to have discovered definite proof that Alamy are mishandling the colour profiles of your images for the previews at least is entirely pertinent to this thread, which is about which colour space to use when uploading to Alamy.

 

People often refer quite rightly to Bruce Fraser's definitive book 'Color Management' which was published way back in 2005. There's no reason why Alamy shouldn't have a fully colour managed system, I'm no programmer but know that ImageMagick deals with server based colour management perfectly well. I actually gave them the benefit of the doubt and assumed that they did but they weren't telling us. Your discoveries with the previews suggests that for previews at least, they don't.

 

 

 

 

Edited by Harry Harrison

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Posted (edited)

I don't think they are mishandling anything. 

 

The images I referred to were my own, and they all looked good - both the AdobeRGB and the unmanaged one. They had all been uploaded as AdobeRGB and when I color proofed them in AdobeRGB and sRGB they looked fine. 

 

We have had this discussion before and I thought that Alamy suggested that we use AdobeRGB to give all clients the largest color space. It is easy enough to convert from AdobeRGB to sRGB and bump up the vibrance and/or saturation depending on what the image needs, since an AdobeRGB image will look more muted if you convert it to sRGB or assign it to that profile, if you don't enhance the vibrance &/or saturation. Adobe PS even has an action for it that bumps up the vibrance and saturation when you convert - I find it's a good place to start when I'm getting an image printed and need to convert it. 

 

I believe Photoshelter and most stock sites properly convert AdobeRGB's to sRGB so they look saturated enough on screen. I'm not sure if Alamy does, although my images seem to look fine. I try to make sure that most of my travel images have a bit of pop but only increase the saturation and vibrance slightly to avoid that overly-procesed look. I have others where I keep the color more muted and might even decrease the saturation a bit if I think that suits the image better, and I find that  both types sell. I have to believe that Alamy know what they are doing with regard to color or they wouldn't be licensing thousands of images. 

Edited by Marianne

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Posted (edited)
9 hours ago, Marianne said:

I don't think they are mishandling anything. 

 

To get an objective view of the merits of uploading AdobeRGB or sRGB I've just uploaded 2 versions of a photo of a Passport colour checker target. In both cases I started from the RAW file. In one case I used an entirely sRGB workflow (from the point of ACR conversion and into PS CC), and in the other I used an entirely AdobeRGB workflow. The images are now in QC. I'll then download a preview and purchase a copy of each and post the image refs and the results.

 

Mark

Edited by M.Chapman
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25 minutes ago, M.Chapman said:

Anyway, in order to get an objective view of the merits of uploading AdobeRGB or sRGB I've just uploaded 2 versions of a photo of a Passport colour checker target. In both cases I started from the RAW file. In one case I used an entirely sRGB workflow (from the point of ACR conversion and into PS CC), and in the other I used an entirely AdobeRGB workflow. The images are now in QC. I'll then download a preview and purchase a copy of each and post the image refs and the results.

Excellent

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Posted (edited)
On 05/07/2019 at 23:13, Harry Harrison said:

If you take an image in a larger colour space (Adobe RGB) and assign it to a smaller colour space (sRGB) then the colours become more muted.

 

I'm quoting myself here, and I don't want to be spreading any misinformation, but I don't believe that if you convert from aRGB to sRGB that the colours will look more muted, only if you (mis) assign, which is why Mark's tests will be very interesting.

Edited by Harry Harrison

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Posted (edited)
23 hours ago, Harry Harrison said:

Your second point, the fact that you appear to have discovered definite proof that Alamy are mishandling the colour profiles of your images for the previews at least is entirely pertinent to this thread, which is about which colour space to use when uploading to Alamy.

 

It may not be as bad as I thought. After some further testing I think Alamy might be doing the following with respect to the preview images. When they strip the colour profile from the uploaded image I think they may also be converting the preview image data to sRGB colour space. Certainly the difference between the downloaded preview and my uploaded image is much smaller than  the difference I get when applying an sRGB profile to image file containing data in AdobeRGB colour space.

 

It will be interesting to see the test images.

 

Mark

  

Edited by M.Chapman

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39 minutes ago, M.Chapman said:

It will be interesting to see the test images.

 

Yes, having located my two test aRGB/sRGB comparison images I don't see much difference which is why in the back of my mind I've thought that they are probably doing things right, converting to sRGB before stripping is OK for previews I would say. I'm particularly keen to see what profile, if any (!) your download images will have and then we might actually have an answer to the question about which profile to use when uploading. Good stuff.

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Posted (edited)
9 hours ago, M.Chapman said:

 

To get an objective view of the merits of uploading AdobeRGB or sRGB I've just uploaded 2 versions of a photo of a Passport colour checker target. In both cases I started from the RAW file. In one case I used an entirely sRGB workflow (from the point of ACR conversion and into PS CC), and in the other I used an entirely AdobeRGB workflow. The images are now in QC. I'll then download a preview and purchase a copy of each and post the image refs and the results.

 

Mark

 

I'm not sure why you don't think my test wasn't objective? I downloaded an image that was uploaded as AdobeRGB and it opened properly in that color space and looked perfect when I soft-proofed it. I didn't print it since my photo printer is currently on the fritz. 

 

I'm interested to see what you've found but I'd like to understand why you are discounting my observations. 

 

Edited by Marianne

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When I first started with Alamy the instructions were to upload images with aRGB colour space. When you upload those images and they go to processing I was given to understand that the images are converted to sRGB and into different differing file sizes dependent on final use by Alamy.

 

Allan

 

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Marianne said:

I downloaded an image that was uploaded as AdobeRGB

Personally I wasn't clear whether this image that you downloaded was an image that you or perhaps your client had purchased, so the final version that is supplied to the client, which is why I asked the question earlier in the thread. Also you say that it opened perfectly in Adobe RGB, but did it have that colour profile? It may seem pedantic but I think it's quite important.

Edited by Harry Harrison

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2 hours ago, Marianne said:

 

I'm not sure why you don't think my test wasn't objective? I downloaded an image that was uploaded as AdobeRGB and it opened properly in that color space and looked perfect when I soft-proofed it. I didn't print it since my photo printer is currently on the fritz. 

 

I'm interested to see what you've found but I'd like to understand why you are discounting my observations. 

 

 

Terribly sorry I wasn't meaning to imply your test wasn't objective or to discount your observations. However I am repeating with both an sRGB and aRGB version of exactly the same image, which I think is different to the test you mentioned, or have I missed something? I'll also be quoting the image references so others can compare for themselves, as well as using an industry standard target.

 

Mark

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