It’s Not You; It’s Your Software

Carefully fine-tuning the last photo to finish off a blog post, adjusting the exposure and vibrancy to be at their best, even my small tweaks can take an inordinate amount of time to get just right. Using Photoshop is definitely not my forte, and it shows in my sluggish speed and clumsy handling of its sophisticated tools, but I still try my best through trial and error when necessary. Once the finishing touches are done, a quick save, one last review of the photo and… Oh, god, what have I done?! Into my view pops some hideously mangled photo, glaringly overexposed and flat out green. This is not what I was editing two seconds ago, I swear! This must be its evil twin, set on ruining the ambiance poor little blog!

Oh, the drama. But wait, it’s not all that it seems! While this horrific occurrence has sent me scrambling back to Photoshop in hopes of fixing the mess numerous times now, it suddenly hit me that perhaps it wasn’t my lack of Photoshop skills that was at fault here, but the program itself that I was using to view the altered pictures.


[Click for full view]

What do you know, the difference is as clear as night and day! Just because a certain photo viewer opens when you double click an image, doesn’t mean that it’s the best program for the job. So long, Windows Photo Gallery! I’ll be sticking with QuickTime PictureViewer from here on in, thank you very much! So before you drive yourself insane trying to figure out why your photo alterations always seem to go askew, perhaps you should check your programs against each other, and give your basic software a second thought.

This has been a public service announcement. We now return you to your regular programing.

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19 thoughts on “It’s Not You; It’s Your Software

  1. My lovely husband Scotty found this out a while back. The balance in photoshop is set and may need to be re-set for viewing differently on Mac versus PC. The viewers to check the image are also rendering the image differently. At one point he had to set photoshop to match the flickr balance on photos so that when he tweaked in photoshop it looked the same when uploaded to flickr. Most confusing and getting in to deep technicalities of the software but worth being wary of and fully checking one viewer next to another to confirm results. There are hints and tips out there but it pays to read up if you are considering taking it all seriously.
    Best of luck and as usual love your stuff!

  2. I’ve also noticed that some websites compress files differently when you upload images. When I upload to some sites, I notice my photos appear to lose some saturation. On other sites they look just fine. So frustrating! I end up having to create 2 versions of the file to upload in those cases.

  3. i have this problem quite often as the color profile in photoshop doesn’t match flickr. it is really frustrating. good luck!

  4. This is a really great tip! I don’t use photoshop as it sends me right into panic mode. I stick with the really, really simple picasa. Maybe some day…

  5. I’ve been very happy with Aperture, until it broke last week. My photos never finish downloading, I can’t alter any images, and I can’t upload from Aperture to the web. I’m going to try reinstalling, if I can ever find the CD. Good luck with your technical glitches, Hannah!

  6. Well, this is how clueless I am: I don’t even KNOW what software I use to view the photos–it just comes up on my computer! For all I know, my photos all have a blue tinge to them when viewed on readers’ computers. . .aaack! Now I must go look into it–thanks!

  7. Yup, different programs handle color management differently or maybe it doesn’t at all. You can also soft proof windows color in photoshop, View > Proof Setup > Windows RGB or Monitor RGB.

  8. Great tip. Your photos are always beautiful. I was inspired by hearing that you shot all the photos for your book and the pretty pictures always draw me in.

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