17 Replies Latest reply on Apr 14, 2014 6:30 AM by Shannon Cayze

    Color Discrepency in Photoshop When Upgrading Computers (Displays Calibrated)

    Shannon Cayze

      Hello,

       

      For years I've been using Photoshop on one Windows laptop to edit my photos. The display was calibrated with an X-Rite Colormunki and life was good. The other day I got a new Windows laptop, and after calibrating the display with the same calibrator, I opened up an image, which was previously edited on the first laptop, in Photoshop. The colors were VERY different (and flatout wrong) despite it looking as I expected in Windows Explorer.

       

      After digging around in the forums I found someone mentioning the menu "View -> Proof Setup -> Monitor RGB". When I selected this, everything looked exactly as I expected, and I would really like to know why? I never had to do that on my previous laptop, and in fact, the proof setup is not even checked. Is this just due to the vast difference between the manufacturer settings of the display the image was originally edited on and the display it is being edited on now? Is the proof setup just simply accounting for this difference? And does this mean I'm doing something wrong in my color management, or is this to be expected?

       

      Thank you so much for taking the time to explain,

      Shannon

        • 1. Re: Color Discrepency in Photoshop When Upgrading Computers (Displays Calibrated)
          Level 7

          By turning on "proof monitor RGB" you are ignoring the display profile.

          And it sounds like either you have a bad display profile, or a problem with your video card driver causing errors when attempting to use the display profile.

           

          First, update your video card driver from the GPU maker's website.

          Then try changing our your display profile for a known good profile (like sRGB) and see if that helps.

          • 2. Re: Color Discrepency in Photoshop When Upgrading Computers (Displays Calibrated)
            Shannon Cayze Level 1

            Thanks for the response, Chris. I thought about the driver being an issue and tried to update it but was told that I'm using the most current driver. However, I was a little skeptical of this and can do more investigation.

             

            A couple things led me to believe that I got a good display profile. For example, I set the background photo on my desktop before calibration, which I knew wouldn't look accurate. After doing the calibration it was corrected quite well. Same goes for viewing other photos on the laptop. It's not until I take it into Photoshop that it goes off the rails.

             

            I did try switching it to the sRGB profile, and it looked a little different, but not anywhere near correct. In fact, I opened the image in Photoshop on the first laptop and saved it using the sRGB profile. Then I brought it over to the new laptop and opened it in Photoshop. Still looked terrible.

             

            Crazy thought: Is it possible that when I saved the image on the original laptop it may have embedded the profile, and then when editing the photo on the second laptop it may have applied another profile on top of that? Essentially, could it have applied two profiles? The reason I ask is that when I turn on proofing it looks just like the image that was edited on the first laptop.

             

            Thanks,

            Shannon

            • 3. Re: Color Discrepency in Photoshop When Upgrading Computers (Displays Calibrated)
              Level 7

              Did you use any other application that actually reads and uses the display profile?

              Most Windows applications just ignore the display profile.

               

              If setting the display profile to sRGB still looks bad - then you probably have a buggy video card driver.

              Update the driver from the GPU maker's website (never Microsoft).

               

              No, the display profile would only be embedded if you converted to or assigned that profile to your image.

              • 4. Re: Color Discrepency in Photoshop When Upgrading Computers (Displays Calibrated)
                Shannon Cayze Level 1

                OK, thanks. I'll make sure I've got the right video card driver and go from there.

                 

                Ah, yes, now that you say that it makes sense. It would've been Adobe RGB that got embedded.

                 

                Thanks again,

                Shannon

                • 5. Re: Color Discrepency in Photoshop When Upgrading Computers (Displays Calibrated)
                  D Fosse Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                  Shannon Cayze wrote:

                   

                  A couple things led me to believe that I got a good display profile. For example, I set the background photo on my desktop before calibration, which I knew wouldn't look accurate. After doing the calibration it was corrected quite well. Same goes for viewing other photos on the laptop. It's not until I take it into Photoshop that it goes off the rails.

                  Let's clear this up now. The display profile is not what most people think it is. Do not confuse calibration and profiling, because they are not the same thing.

                   

                  Calibration adjusts the display to a set of basic parameters: white point temperature and luminance, tone response curve (gamma), and possibly black point. As a side effect of all this, the resulting color balance is also neutral, relative to the white point. The calibration is performed in the video card, or preferably in the display hardware itself. It affects everything globally, but the calibration is not part of the color management chain.

                   

                  Color management is introduced with the display profile. The profile is a full description of the display's response in its present state (calibrated or not). The profile doesn't correct anything, it just describes. When Photoshop displays an image, the RGB values are remapped directly from the document profile into the display profile. Those modified values are sent to the display.

                   

                  The precision level of the profile is much higher than what the calibration can correct. It takes into account the position of the three primaries in three-dimensional color space, thus defining how color is reproduced beyond a simple neutral color balance. It also describes the precise tone response curve with all its deviances from an ideal gamma curve (and there are many).

                   

                  ---

                   

                  What confuses many is that the calibration LUT is often stored inside the profile. That's just because it's a convenient place to keep it, but it blurs the line between them. In reality the two have nothing to do with each other and serve completely different purposes.

                   

                  Here's the thing: Only color managed software will use the display profile and remap / convert the image into it. The others will just ignore it. You'll see the effect of the calibration, yes, but that's just half the story.

                   

                  Of the native Windows apps there isn't much that is color managed, in fact it's only Windows Photo Viewer. Windows Explorer and the Windows desktop are not.

                   

                  So, to sum up, Calibration and profiling are two separate processes, for convenience wrapped into one. But they are functionally very different.

                  • 6. Re: Color Discrepency in Photoshop When Upgrading Computers (Displays Calibrated)
                    Shannon Cayze Level 1

                    OK, Chris, I think I may have figured out what's been happening.

                     

                    First of all, the laptop I upgraded from was on Windows 7 and the new laptop is Windows 8, so I'm not sure if this has anything to do with the difference in treatment of profiles.

                     

                    After I profiled my display using the X-Rite ColorMunki, it stored the profile in the list for my display and set it to the default profile. I noticed this before but it seemed logical and like it was the expected result. For most areas in Windows and other software, this was ignored. However, while researching why the Windows Photo Viewer also looked horrible, I found a post where someone set the default profile to "sRGB virtual device model profile". After I did this, photos in both the Windows Photo Viewer and Photoshop looked exactly as I expected.

                     

                    I guess I just have some unresolved questions as to how all of these components work together and how each software application uses the profiles. So, my guess at this point is that when I opened a photo in Photoshop or Windows Photos Viewer, it was taking the profile created by the ColorMunki and applying it to the photo when I didn't want it to, since it's being applied at the global level already. So do applications use the list of device-specific profiles directly to apply them to photos when displaying photos? And this may not be the place for this question, but I'll see if you know. Does the ColorMunki need the profile to be explicitly added to the list for the device in order for it to work? The display definitely still seems calibrated after removing it, but I'm not sure where it pulls the profile from when calibrating the display. If not, I suppose I'm good to go. I'm just hoping to get a better understanding of how all these components work together.

                     

                    Thanks for all your help,

                    Shannon

                    • 7. Re: Color Discrepency in Photoshop When Upgrading Computers (Displays Calibrated)
                      D Fosse Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                      Shannon Cayze wrote:

                       

                      So, my guess at this point is that when I opened a photo in Photoshop or Windows Photos Viewer, it was taking the profile created by the ColorMunki and applying it to the photo when I didn't want it to, since it's being applied at the global level already.

                       

                      You're misunderstanding completely how this works. Read my post #5 (directly above yours).

                       

                      I'll make it simple:

                       

                      The profile is not applied globally. Calibration and monitor profile are not the same thing.

                       

                      • Calibration is a simple basic adjustment to the monitor, affecting everything globally (it would, since it changes the monitor itself).
                      • The monitor profile is a full, complete and detailed description of the monitor in its present calibrated state.
                      • Color managed software remaps/converts directly from the document profile to the monitor profile, and sends those modified RGB values to the display.
                      • Non-color managed software just sends the original RGB values in the file directly to the display.

                       

                      OK? See the difference? The monitor profile adds another level of precision. Yes, you see the effect of the calibration everywhere, but the profile, when used, has much higher precision.

                       

                      Unless it's bad. Then you only see that in color managed applications, like Photoshop and Windows Photo Viewer.

                      • 8. Re: Color Discrepency in Photoshop When Upgrading Computers (Displays Calibrated)
                        Shannon Cayze Level 1

                        While I'm not an expert on calibration/color management, I would not say that I'm "misunderstanding completely how this works". I fully understand everything you just said, in this post and the last, but I think you may be misunderstanding what I'm seeing on my end and what I'm asking.

                         

                        I understand that calibration and the monitor profile are not the same thing, but they do work in tandem via the X-Rite Colormunki and software. I understand that it builds a monitor profile and that by itself is not calibration, but the X-Rite software on the computer then takes that profile and corrects the colors output to the display. To me this DOES happen globally because it changes it for everything on the computer and the various software applications don't have to anything specific to make that happen. The X-Rite software simply corrects the colors to the expected output using the profile it creates. So this is what I mean when I say that the X-Rite software applies the profile globally.

                         

                        On my previous laptop all I had to do was use the ColorMunki Display device and software to build the profile and Photoshop until my heart was content, and I would get accurate colors. When I did the same thing on my new laptop and opened a photo in a color-managed application, the colors would be very different from what I intended. The problem was that the X-Rite software was applying the profile globally and then color-managed software applications were applying the default ICC profile setup for the device, which happens to be the same profile created by the X-Rite software, as seen in the following image.

                         

                        ColorMunki Created Profile.jpg

                         

                        Because the default profile was the same profile built by the X-Rite software, it was being applied twice (once by the X-Rite software and once by the color-managed software). When I deleted the profile from the device and added the sRGB profile (if I didn't do this and left the profile list empty, it defaulted to this), everything looked perfect because the color-managed software was then sending the RGB values of the image rather than remapping them.

                         

                        sRGB Profile.jpg

                         

                        My last question was simply about if the X-Rite software needed the profile in the list for the device or if it pulled it from some other place. If it needed it in the list for it to be applied, and I removed it, I could be creating a problem for myself that would need to be handled some other way.

                         

                        So, I'm not some idiot that knows nothing about what I'm talking about, but I'll happily admit that I'm no expert. When you're responding to people on forums asking questions, please remember that they're simply trying to learn more on the subject they're inquiring about. It is 100% unnecessary to belittle or berate anyone, even if you know everything there is to know and they know nothing. When you do that, it is in direct conflict with the spirit of what an online forum is for. If this is not what you were intending to do, then please review the way you phrase your responses, because it comes across very snarky and is extremely off-putting. By this I mean using phrases such as, "Let's clear this up now", "You're misunderstanding completely", and "I'll make it simple". Not to mention, your responses did nothing to help solve the problem and honestly did not teach me much more than I already knew. I do thank you for the time you took to explain how this works; I just wish you would've taken a different approach. Take care.

                        • 9. Re: Color Discrepency in Photoshop When Upgrading Computers (Displays Calibrated)
                          D Fosse Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                          OK, I'm sorry if you took this the wrong way, that wasn't my intention. Apologies for that. But you are still misunderstanding, and I don't know of any nicer way to say it

                           

                          The profile is not applied twice. That simply cannot happen. It's either used, or it isn't. Photoshop uses the profile, other applications don't.

                           

                          The X-rite software builds the profile and sets it up as system default for that display, on system level. Your first screenshot is the correct setup. That doesn't mean it's "applied" in any way, it just means it's available for applications that want to use it. If not, it just sits there, doing absolutely nothing.

                           

                          Your second screenshot is absolutely wrong. The wcs profile is not to be used in this context. If you want to set up sRGB as display profile, the one you use is sRGB IEC61966-2.1.

                           

                          If your X-rite profile produces results in Photoshop that are obviously wrong, and replacing it with sRGB IEC61966-2.1 corrects the problem, then your X-rite profile is corrupted in some way. Windows Photo Viewer would also be affected.

                           

                          But there would be no difference in other applications without color management, because they just ignore the profile and don't use it.

                          • 10. Re: Color Discrepency in Photoshop When Upgrading Computers (Displays Calibrated)
                            Shannon Cayze Level 1

                            OK, thank you for explaining. There's no doubt that I don't fully understand everything that's happening here.

                             

                            After I removed the X-Rite profile and rebooted, the colors looked as they did before the profile was ever created, so I know it needs to be there for the color adustments to take effect, and my original configuration is correct. This is what I mean by global. Just having the profile as the default for the device shifts the color everywhere, not just in Photoshop.

                             

                            I didn't explain this before because my response was already getting long-winded, but it's not happening for every single photo. In fact, most photos appear as I expect, at least within reason. Even though my iPhone is not calibrated, I can tell by comparing it against my laptop that the two are really close. As I said, within reason. Really, it's just happening on a couple of photos in particulr that involve sunsets, where the orange colors are pushed to an over-the-top magenta that is nowhere near what it really looks like. So the ColorMunki and software are not creating an unusable profile, but in some cases the results vary more than I would expect.

                             

                            The part I'm most confused about is why I used the same device to build the profiles on both laptops, the profile configurations are exactly the same on both laptops, but for the few photos that are an issue, the results are so different. I'm wondering if the ColorMunki device is reacting differently to the different displays. At this point I think I need to reprocess the problem images on the new laptop and see if this continues to be an issue. When opening the raw image they appear fine but when turning on the visibility of the various Curves adjustments of the previously processed PSD it gets out of hand. After reprocessing I'll compare against other displays and prints and see if I'm still getting results I'm happy with. If not, I'll have to contact X-Rite to see if this an issue with their device.

                             

                            Thanks again.

                            • 11. Re: Color Discrepency in Photoshop When Upgrading Computers (Displays Calibrated)
                              D Fosse Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                              Shannon Cayze wrote:

                               

                              Really, it's just happening on a couple of photos in particulr that involve sunsets, where the orange colors are pushed to an over-the-top magenta that is nowhere near what it really looks like.

                              OK, that's weird clipping behavior that can be either a video driver issue, or a bad display profile.

                               

                              First, see if there's an updated video driver. With a laptop that may not be so simple because you may have to get it via the laptop manufacturer. Windows Update is usually long out of date.

                               

                              To rule out a bad display profile, set sRGB as default as per your screenshot above - but use sRGB IEC61966-2.1 this time, not the WCS profile. If it goes away, the Munki is your problem.

                               

                              ---

                               

                              And I'm sorry, but I just have to get this straightened out:

                               

                              After I removed the X-Rite profile and rebooted, the colors looked as they did before the profile was ever created, so I know it needs to be there for the color adustments to take effect, and my original configuration is correct. This is what I mean by global. Just having the profile as the default for the device shifts the color everywhere, not just in Photoshop.

                               

                              That is not the profile. The global color adjustment that you see is the calibration. The profile doesn't adjust anything - it's just a description.

                               

                              What confuses people is that the calibration just happens to be stored inside the monitor profile. But that's only because it's a convenient place - other than that the two have nothing to do with each other and are totally unrelated.

                               

                              When Photoshop displays an image it's just like any other profile conversion. Say you convert a file from Adobe RGB to sRGB, right? Well, exactly the same thing happens for display. The file is converted from, say, Adobe RGB to the monitor profile, and off it goes. It's a straight up profile conversion, only performed by Photoshop on the fly as it sends the image to the display.

                              • 12. Re: Color Discrepency in Photoshop When Upgrading Computers (Displays Calibrated)
                                Noel Carboni Level 8

                                A tip of the hat to you, twenty_one, for sticking with the subject and explaining it in clear terms.

                                 

                                Color-management is just so easy to misunderstand, probably at least in part because it's hard for people to believe in this day and age it's still as cobbled together as it is.  The state of the art in color-management really just hasn't been advancing.

                                 

                                -Noel

                                • 13. Re: Color Discrepency in Photoshop When Upgrading Computers (Displays Calibrated)
                                  D Fosse Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                                  Actually I think we're at the core of the common confusion right here To an unsuspecting bystander, it looks as if the profile loads the calibration. It doesn't help that some calibration software puts a big sign right in your face on boot-up: "the profile has been successfuly loaded in the video card" or something to that effect. Which is the wrong way to describe what happens in about 10 different ways.

                                   

                                  No one questions an ordinary profile conversion in Photoshop. So the main thing to get across is that the normal display pipeline in Photoshop is exactly equivalent, a perfectly ordinary conversion from profile a to profile b. And then it becomes easier to understand that other software that doesn't do color management, doesn't do that, and that's why they behave differently.

                                   

                                  And then it also becomes easier to understand that the calibration has nothing to do with all this, it's not part of the color management chain.

                                   

                                  It's just like the whole resolution/ppi thing. The underlying principle is dead simple, it's just so easy to get lost on the apparently bewildering surface of it. The trees vs. the forest and all that...

                                  • 14. Re: Color Discrepency in Photoshop When Upgrading Computers (Displays Calibrated)
                                    Shannon Cayze Level 1

                                    Thanks for your response twenty_one. I think that I have the updated driver, as I downloaded it directly from Dell's website rather than Windows Update, but I'm not 100% sure. When I initially had problems I spent a fair amount of time trying to make sure I had the correct one.

                                     

                                    I did replace the default profile with the sRGB one you mentioned and the photo looked exactly as I expected, which was pretty much what happened before when I set the WCS profile to the default. I'm not sure what the difference is between the WCS profile and the sRGB profile, but both produced good results. I'm thinking the ColorMunki isn't able to create a good profile of my display. I'll contact their support to see if they have any known issues creating an accurate profile of the Dell Inspiron laptop.

                                     

                                    As far as the general discussion is concerned, I do know that the creation of the profile and the calibration are separate processes. Like you said, the profile is just a description. I also know that something else (OS, video card driver, or video card hardware) uses that profile in order to perform the calibration. This much I've always known (despite not wording it in a way that made that clear) because I've seen it store the created profile and know that something else in the chain processes that profile when doing the calibration.

                                     

                                    Here's where my confusion occurred: I thought this was the end of the story. That the global calibration was the end-all, be-all. I wasn't aware that Photoshop (or other color-managed software) further used the created profile to perform a conversion. Since we've been having this discussion I have witnessed this first-hand because when I changed the default profile, the calibration remained in place (at least until a reboot/logoff) while viewing the image in Photoshop yielded very different results.

                                     

                                    So, now this is all starting to make a little more sense to me. Thank you very much for providing education and clarification on this subject. As a software developer, I love to learn the inner workings of things. Are there any resources you can recommend for learning the technical details on the subjects of color calibration and profiling? It is a pretty fascinating subject to me.

                                     

                                    Again, thank you so much for your time and patience, and your determination to make sure I understand what's happening here. At least...a little better than I did before.

                                    • 15. Re: Color Discrepency in Photoshop When Upgrading Computers (Displays Calibrated)
                                      D Fosse Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                                      You're welcome . This is why it's sometimes worth sticking it out.

                                      Shannon Cayze wrote:

                                       

                                      I thought this was the end of the story. That the global calibration was the end-all, be-all. I wasn't aware that Photoshop (or other color-managed software) further used the created profile to perform a conversion.

                                      Yes, this is the key to the whole thing. Photoshop performs an ordinary profile conversion for display, just like any other profile conversion. The basic principle and mechanism is exactly the same.

                                       

                                      The whole calibration/profiling process has been architected for expediency and speed. Two otherwise unrelated processes all rolled into one is a very effective way to do it, and the little twist about embedding the calibration data inside the profile is very convenient. Unfortunately, it also does a very good job of obscuring to the user what's really happening.

                                      • 16. Re: Color Discrepency in Photoshop When Upgrading Computers (Displays Calibrated)
                                        Noel Carboni Level 8

                                        Shannon Cayze wrote:

                                         


                                        As a software developer, I love to learn the inner workings of things.

                                        Likewise, and me too.

                                         

                                        If you're ever interested in building color-management capabilities into your own software, look at this excellent free package:

                                         

                                        http://www.littlecms.com/

                                         

                                        -Noel

                                        • 17. Re: Color Discrepency in Photoshop When Upgrading Computers (Displays Calibrated)
                                          Shannon Cayze Level 1

                                          Thanks, Noel! I'll look into that. The software systems I'm mainly focused on are business applications, but something like this could be a cool side/personal project.

                                           

                                          Shannon