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I've been editing some casual photographs of a party, intending to post them on facebook for my friends to see, and today I uploaded these shots only to find color is horribly off (in firefox, as chromium seems unaffected - I couldn't test other browsers). Reds and blues go purplish, greens get saturated to the point most detail in grass and trees is lost. Of course I didn't bother with re-uploading the shots, as I knew I had done all that was possible against this problem. Also I thought 99% of people don't give a .... about color and anyway nobody could know how my pictures were supposed to look as opposed to how they actually look. Just hoping everyone is using chrome :-) Ok, enough babbling.

Now see what's funny: as I had already had this kind of problem (uploading photos for an answer here on photo.SE) I knew how to avoid it. The profile I had photoshop assign to those shots, sRGB IEC61966-2.1, was not interpreted correctly by firefox, which theoretically should color manage images which have their color profile embedded, but practically likes only those with no profile at all.

When I was doing the editing for the party photographs I wasn't aware of this issue, so today I used imagemagick to resize all the shots I wanted to upload, at the same time stripping them of any embedded information, just to be safe. At this point my shots had no color profile and looked perfectly good and just the same opening them in firefox or any other program.

As soon as they were uploaded to facebook the shots showed the color issues I mentioned at the start of my question. Trying to understand what was going on and if facebook changed something, I downloaded one of the shots, one that has some nice color variation and easily allows to spot the differences in rendition. It looks fine in my image viewer (and chromium and photoshop), I can see in its properties that it has no embedded color profile nor any other exif information, but if it's viewed in firefox those bad annoying color issues won't go away, even disabling color management in about:config.

Is facebook applying a color profile that is invisible, handled correctly by all applications, but it's enough to mess up firefox?
Update: Yes, it does. It's not really invisible, but it doesn't show as metadata in three different image viewers I tried.

New question: What can one do? Why is firefox refusing to render correctly every image tagged with a color profile? Can this problem be related to different versions of firefox made for different OSs?

Undoubtedly firefox (I'm using version 13.0.1) has some problem with color that probably can be fixed with proper configuration, but this is not a solution. First, one can't ask everyone one knows to mess with (for most people) exotic settings if they want to see some photos correctly. Then, as I have proved with many experiments that firefox can display images the way I want it to, if only I leave them without profiles, and that's ok with me, why should this behavior be broken by facebook, or any other similar service, for that matter, which apparently is not doing any (absurd) management or correction of color?

Samples below. Maybe your version of firefox has a different take on the subject? The way it's supposed to be (no profile at all):

enter image description here

With "c2" aka "the facebook profile" (to me it looks like firefox renders it the same garish way even with a standard sRGB profile):

enter image description here

Update: I looked at this page using the same version of firefox, but on windows xp with a serious monitor instead (my pc is a laptop with a decent screen and as of now running xubuntu). There's some difference in rendition between the two samples, but you almost can't tell unless you look at the reds.

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I used Photoshop CS2, which at the time for some reason I had set to apply this sRGB IEC61966-2.1 profile to all edited images, which came from the camera in the sRGB color space, with no profile. No other color management was done. The only editing was curves. I'm uploading a sample as soon as possible. p.s. I don't know why a comment asking for this kind of detail was removed, still I'm leaving my reply, as it may be useful, even though a bit redundant. –  MattiaG Jun 22 '12 at 14:12
    
I removed the comment because I wanted to convert it into an answer before seeing your reply to it. –  Steven Cunningham Jun 22 '12 at 14:13
    
Ok, fine. I found a partial answer to my question: facebook appears to actually apply to pictures an ICC profile called c2, which my image viewer couldn't detect and show as metadata but handled fine, while Ps recognized it (and had no problem handling). I'm not posting an answer myself because I don't have a solution for this issue, so keep 'em coming. I'm kinda hating this absurd behavior of facebook ;-) who are they to apply profiles to my photos? –  MattiaG Jun 22 '12 at 14:39
    
Your update is interesting, does assigning both images the profile listed in my answer make them look more identical on the windows XP system? –  Steven Cunningham Jun 22 '12 at 15:47

2 Answers 2

This thread on the Firefox support forum's is by someone with a similar problem, and mentions needing to potentially restart your computer after disabling color management in Firefox to get it to stick. I also tested (on Windows7 64-bit in case it makes a difference) Firefox and Chrome using this link and it says that Chrome does not support ICC profiles while Firefox supports ICC v2 profiles, have you checked that your color management is setup correctly in Photoshop? If you were editing JPEGs that were already in sRGB and told Photoshop to convert to sRGB (rather than assign an sRGB profile) that double-handling could be a cause of the problem.

I also seem to recall reading a Facebook engineering blog post about having created a minimal sRGB ICC profile that could be automatically applied to images, but Google can't find it now.

EDIT: Here is the Facebook engineering blog post describing the profile that is added to all images

UPDATE: It looks like the problem is that the images were taken using Adobe RGB rather than sRGB since manually assigning the Adobe RGB (1998) profile to both of them in Photoshop has got the color to match for me. The desaturated look in the second image is a common sign that the image was originally recorded in a wider gamut color space than the one it is currently being displayed in.

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I commented on my question about this absurd "facebook profile". Also I made it clear in my question that I don't consider changing settings in firefox a solution. If firefox can't handle gracefully out of the box an image tagged with a color profile, at least ignore the profile if it's not able to display it properly, it means many many people using internet in the whole world are seeing pictures with random colors. It would be a serious issue, wouldn't it? –  MattiaG Jun 22 '12 at 14:32
    
I've just found this bug report for Firefox wrongly treating some valid ICC profiles as invalid, but if it affected the Facebook profile I would expect something to have been done to work around it. Most people in the world also don't calibrate their monitors so they are basically seeing somewhat random color variations which sRGB is designed to reduce, hence Facebook adding the profile to all images. –  Steven Cunningham Jun 22 '12 at 14:43
    
Very interesting, thanks. AFAIK every browser assumes pictures are in the sRGB color space, so why do they say it's not so and assign the "facebook profile"? don't they mix the concepts of profile and color space? isn't sRGB a standard on the web? I don't really think I'm smarter than the facebook guys, there's just something I can't understand. And the complete inadequacy of firefox baffles me. Its rendition of color does a worse damage to photos than an uncalibrated monitor can do. –  MattiaG Jun 22 '12 at 14:50
    
I use Firefox and don't experience any problems with image colors, the main complaint about Firefox is it not handling ICC v4 profiles. The inclusion of the profile is probably intended to work around the combination of the standard profile being too large and many browsers (including Firefox afaik) not color-managing untagged images by default. –  Steven Cunningham Jun 22 '12 at 14:57
    
I've never had problem with untagged images... Is it possible for my problem to depend on operating systems? –  MattiaG Jun 22 '12 at 15:03

Yes, Facebook does assign a different ICC color profile to the images which is an edited black scaled sRGB IEC61966-2-1 profile. More information and ICC download link for C2 here:

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=1522920917921431

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