Enhancing Your Color Images With Firefox 3

As the popularity of digital cameras increases, the quality of color photographs will be more closely scrutinized. For example; colors will have to be displayed the way there were meant to be, meaning, bright, rich and full of life.

I know that some photographers are disappointed with the quality of color pictures on the web. One of these photographers recently wrote in his personal blog, “One thing that has always irritated me about looking at pictures on the web is that browsers don’t seem to display photographs properly. And by ‘photographs’ I really mean ‘colors’.

“I spend a lot of time tweaking pictures in Photoshop, but when I upload them to my Flickr account and look at them in Firefox 2 the colors aren’t the same — they’re more washed out, dull, and lifeless. It’s a subtle thing, but annoying nonetheless.”

Fortunately there is a way to enhance the way colors look on your monitor. It’s called “color management” or “color profile support”.

Color Management is a standard technique defined by the International Color Consortium to ensure consistent color presentation for images no matter if they are displayed on paper, a computer monitor, an LCD TV set, fabric or any other media.

While image color improvement will not be as dramatic as I would like, the truth of the matter is, there will certainly be a difference. Let me explain myself. When you take a picture with your digital camera (specially in RAW format), it not only saves information about the colors, but also the amount of light available, distance and other factors that may affect how an image is perceived. This details are stored in a color profile which as of Firefox 2 is just ignored.

Firefox 2 does not include support for color profiles, so the browser renders colors as best it can without doing special tweaks based on your system or custom color profiles. The good news is that Firefox 3 does include full support for color profiles. In Firefox 3, these profiles are used to tune up the image to your display to better reproduce the original image; a must for amateur and professional photographers, clothing and fabric related e-stores, paint, food, and mostly everywhere a true representation of color is important.

The bad news is that color profile support will be turned off by default when Firefox 3 ships. To enable it you must set gfx.color_management.enabled to true (via about:config) and restart Firefox.

Another way to turn color profile support on is to install the Color Management add-on (which will work with Firefox 3 Beta 5). After you install the add-on and restart Firefox 3, color profile support is enabled, and you can specify a custom color profile by going to the Tools menu, selecting “Add-ons”, and clicking the Color Management add-on “Preferences” button. If you do not specify a color profile, the system default profile will be used, which should be OK for most people.

I’m elated that Firefox 3 has added support for color management technology. Over the years I’ve learned to appreciate photography; mainly by reading the blogs of my good friends, Abraham Lincoln and Don Ray. Having color management feature in my web browser will greatly enhance the enjoyment of viewing color photographs.

I have plans to get my feet wet with color photographs in a couple of months when I buy myself a digital camera. Right now I’m feeding my piggy bank. -)

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