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Images and Embedded ICC Profiles

User Image
sfwrtr
273 discussion posts
Jon,

I am a photographer, so I make my own wallpaper... :-P

Yesterday, I created a set of images to send out for photo finishing, then decided to use them in DF. I noticed that the images looked desaturated. When I display the same images using the built-in XP Preview, the images show as properly saturated. Oddly enough, the Windows Explorer thumbnails display desaturated.

Is this a problem of the OS wallpaper API? Does DF take into account embedded profiles? Is this something that could be added as a configurable option?

I can you an image with an embedded ICC if you need one.
Jul 22, 2010  • #1
Jon Tackabury (BFS)'s profile on WallpaperFusion.com
Could you please send (or post) and image that has the colour profile embedded? I'll see what I can do. :)
Aug 12, 2010  • #2
User Image
sfwrtr
273 discussion posts
Jon,

Sorry I took so long to respond. Driving toward a first beta release... :wink:

Anyway, attached is an image with an embedded ICC. It was accidentally over-saturated, so it will be obvious which is which when you use it in DF and display it using Windows preview.

Once you download the image, please delete it from this post.
• Attachment: PICT7904.JPG [2,848,112 bytes]
PICT7904.JPG
Aug 19, 2010  • #3
Jon Tackabury (BFS)'s profile on WallpaperFusion.com
What version of Windows are you using? Loading this image in DisplayFusion with Windows 7 I can't see any difference between the 2 images. :(
Sep 8, 2010  • #4
User Image
sfwrtr
273 discussion posts
Sorry for the delay in replying. I was in Australia for a month, photographing new subjects to display with DisplayFusion...!

I first noticed it on Windows XP SP2 and it was from that machine that I started the problem report, but I've subsequently checked it out on Windows 7 64bit; the problem happens there, also. See the attached image with DF in the background and Windows Photo Viewer (right click the jpg, select PREVIEW) displaying the original file with an ICC. Notice the difference in the attached image in saturation levels and warmth. If you can repro the issue, the difference will be very very obvious, not subtle. Both my XP and Windows 7 machine have calibrated monitors so that the ICC provides true colors. Under Windows 7, the calibration is done with a colorimeter. Under XP, it is fudged using Adobe Gamma, installed on that machine with Adobe Elements. I think that even without calibration, there should still be obvious differences, though. I don't think that ICC rendering is enabled by calibration. It is always on, though not accurately displayed.

Don't know if that helps. If you need another image, please ask.

Edit/Add: BTW, both the current Firefox and Safari for Windows display images properly rendered based on the embedded ICC. You might try those. You can also look at my website, http://PoetryInLight.sfwrtr.net, for other images, including the original one I sent you to be found in All Photographs Mono Lake.
• Attachment: DF ICC Windows 7.jpg [1,411,947 bytes]
DF ICC Windows 7.jpg
Sep 28, 2010  • #5
Jon Tackabury (BFS)'s profile on WallpaperFusion.com
Do the images look ok in the DisplayFusion wallpaper preview window, or do they look wrong in the preview window and after being applied as a wallpaper image?
Oct 1, 2010  • #6
User Image
sfwrtr
273 discussion posts
Jon,

Very insightful question. It made me ask myself, what is displaying the wall paper? Windows APIs, of course (or at least, I am pretty sure). So I closed down DF and used Windows 7 personalize functions. (Could Microsoft make the process just a little more complicated in Windows 8, I wonder?) The thumbnails shown in the personalize dialog show the correct ICC colors, but the selected image used as wallpaper ignores them.

Conclusion:
1) It is Windows, not DF that is displaying the colors incorrectly.
2) You have an enhancement opportunity to do Windows one better. Interpret the ICC when you create what Windows will display and honor the ICC corrections!

To answer you question, both the DF Desktop Wallpaper Dialog and the wall paper presented on the monitor ignore the ICC. Which is to say, your dialog is an accurate representation of what will display, not the true color information in the image.

Attached are two pictures. One of the DF picker and one of the Windows 7 Desktop Background picker. Note that in the Windows 7 image, the red color difference, which is most obvious. (Why Windows 7 doesn't honor the ICC for the desktop, I don't know... could it be configuration related???)
• Attachment: DF picker.jpg [339,736 bytes]
DF picker.jpg
• Attachment: windows 7 wallpaper picker comparison.jpg [93,892 bytes]
windows 7 wallpaper picker comparison.jpg
Oct 1, 2010  • #7
Jon Tackabury (BFS)'s profile on WallpaperFusion.com
In DisplayFusion, open the Wallpaper Settings window and uncheck "Use transitions for wallpaper changes (Windows 7 only)". This will force DisplayFusion to use the older wallpaper API, who knows, it may just work. :)
Oct 1, 2010  • #8
User Image
sfwrtr
273 discussion posts
Nope, didn't change it. :cry: Of course, ICCs are not honored under XP, either.
Oct 1, 2010  • #9
User Image
sfwrtr
273 discussion posts
Okay, I've done a little background research. This is information I probably should have known peripherally as a photographer using Windows, but it didn't register when I started this problem report.

Safari, Firefox, Photoshop, and a few other programs are color-managed. They honor the embedded ICC by default or with a configuration option. Windows Explorer and Internet Explorer, i.e., the desktop and IE, are not-color managed in the sense that they honor the ICC when rendering a photo. This is what I found in my experiments and seems to be the consensus on the web. Indeed, the photos that Windows includes for wallpaper are "untagged." They have no embedded ICC. Microsoft apparently pre-rendered them for display (and they have color problems to my eye). Interestingly enough, parts of Windows do honor the ICC, the prime example being the Windows Preview command, which displays the Windows Photo Viewer. Perhaps Microsoft Dev doesn't see photography and wallpaper as related? Visit the link below for a discussion that shows that Microsoft has done most of the leg work. In fact, I am pretty sure that my Huey Pro color calibration hardware and software use this subsystem for eliminating the color cast (making whites white) on my monitors and improving the contrast. Window color management is actually using the profiles created by my color profiling system. That, however, doesn't force either Windows Explorer or Internet Explorer to render image files using the ICC it seems.

http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows7/Change-color-management-settings

I do not fully understand how color management works, in the same sense that I don't understand internal combustion in my car's engine, but from what I gather, if an image is color-managed it contains the image data in RGB codes and an ICC table that tells how to translate the image for display based on the ICC/ICM standard. A system that ignores the ICC, just displays the RGB image without translating it and it looks pretty bad (compared to what the artist intended). The how-to of the matter, I don't exactly know. Safari and Firefox, as I said, do it. I think you have to configure Firefox to honor the ICC, but Windows Safari does it out of the box.

This, I guess, has devolved from a bug to an enhancement request. In theory, you could program DF to take an image that it recognizes as having an ICC and render it to display properly when Windows displays the image on the desktop the way the Windows Photo Viewer and browsers do. At the most simple level (not real world), this would mean simply translating the ICC color space to the sRGB color space. If DF can recognize color management on the system (e.g., as the open source Firefox does, hint, hint, wink, wink), it could properly render the image for each attached monitor.

Honoring the ICC could be a real differentiator in the market....

Now, I don't know how many images out there arecolor-managed, but mine certainly are. In Photoshop, at least, it is something that is automatic, and if you want not to color manage you have to specifically render without an ICC. Flicker-sourced images (and others DF utilizes) could be filled with color-managed images, which means that these images will look better when displayed in the Windows Photo Viewer and Windows Safari (that has color management on by default) than on the Windows desktop.

From a psychological standpoint, I don't mean to imply that DF users will associate the change of color from their Photoshop images, or flicker images seen in a browser, to what DF causes Windows to display as wallpaper. I will point out that I made that erroneous assumption; however, as a programmer, author, and photographer, people consider me pretty odd.

One last comment: If you do decide to take this on as a project, I suggest that you buy a colorimeter for your computer. I currently use the X-rite Huey Pro. Even without it, with simple color management provided by the Windows link above, you will see a difference.
Oct 2, 2010  • #10
Jon Tackabury (BFS)'s profile on WallpaperFusion.com
This is excellent information! As I (unfortunately) suspected, it's Windows that is handling the images and skewing the colours, and there doesn't appear to be anything I can do to resolve this in DisplayFusion. If I do have a chunk of time in the future I will investigate further, but it seems to be out of my control for now.
Oct 6, 2010  • #11
User Image
sfwrtr
273 discussion posts
Jon,

I am hopeful that you will consider it in the future. It would be a process of taking the source image and rendering for the monitor using the ICC for each attached monitor. Firefox, which has code you could review, does it on the fly. I suspect it is a big project, as do you.

In the mean time, you might want to investigate the percentage of images displayed by DF have ICCs in a beta release. I'm not positive, but I think the ICC is stored in a specific EXIF tag....

Meanwhile, I'll render images for wallpaper by converting to sRGB.

Of course, it begs the question, why is Microsoft being so lazy? Most monitors, going back as much as five years, come with a default ICC for the monitor. Maybe it isn't a perfect match, and the monitor drifts over its lifetime, but Windows could render wallpaper images for the displayed monitor using the ICC. All the required data is usually there. :cry: It certainly complicates the life of photographers who also want to sell scaled down images as wallpaper.
Oct 6, 2010  • #12
Jon Tackabury (BFS)'s profile on WallpaperFusion.com
It's on my list now, but I can't make any promises about timing. :)
Oct 8, 2010  • #13
User Image
sfwrtr
273 discussion posts
If you need a beta tester, I'm there. :mrgreen:
Oct 8, 2010  • #14
Jon Tackabury (BFS)'s profile on WallpaperFusion.com
Excellent, thanks. :)
Oct 18, 2010  • #15
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