For photographers, Instagram is a great thing to be a part of. It is your portfolio that potential clients look at before they get in touch with you. Our Instagram photography may be the first, and only, contact a potential client has with our work! So … they better come correct!
I’ve spent years working professionally in many fields involving digital imagery. I used to do graphic design, create layouts and sales brochures. I then produced product photography for web and print; before I became a corporate filmmaker for branding and advertising.
So, I’ve been around many types of image capture. Those images have also been viewed in many different types of media.
“You Are #JUDGED on Your 9 Most Recent Images!”
One of my product photos was blown up to a 10ft high backdrop to an exhibition stand. It was shot on a Canon 7D mk1 and its mighty 18 Megapixels. It looked surprisingly good as well!
This means I know my way around colour spaces/gamuts in both capture and delivery formats. So, why on earth did I make this mistake when I published images to my Instagram account?
What did I notice?
Instagram is insistent upon keeping its platform ‘Mobile Only’ when it comes to uploading images. If I want to upload my images, they’ve got to go through my phone at some stage.
My workflow has been to export from Lightroom, upload them to my google drive via desktop and then retrieve them on my android phone when I want to publish.
It’s not an ideal situation, but it’s simple and it works for me. Then came the day that I realised something. When I previewed an image in my google drive, it initially looked as I remembered (in terms of colour), but then as the full resolution kicked in, the colours suddenly changed!
Displaying ProPhoto colours in sRGB results in a drop in the saturation, making the image look duller.
“It did #NOT look like the same edit anymore!”
I was very concerned. But it turned out that I had made a fundamental mistake when I exported. I was using the wrong colour space!
From my earlier days, I had got into the habit of rendering out my deliverable jpegs in the ProPhoto RGB colour space. This is one of the larger colour spaces and allows me to come back in and render out for other uses later on. For example, if I wanted to use the image for print, etc. I wanted to keep more information in my jpeg masters. It’s just how I liked to work.
These days, for all my photos, including my Instagram photography, I save all my edits out as DNG. This is a much better workflow and I’ll tell you about it some time.
As of writing this, I’m not sure there are any displays that can show the ProPhoto gamut in full. Certainly, my iMac can’t. The next common colour space smaller is Adobe RGB and then sRGB. sRGB is easily displayed by most displays … including mobile phone screens.
I was trying to show an image with a ProPhoto colour space on a platform and device only capable of displaying sRGB. The result was that the display had to replace those “Out of Gamut” colours with others. A job that it does badly! This caused the noticeable colour shift in my images.
Instagram Photography Export
Going back to “Your Instagram feed is your portfolio“, having images in there that are not as I intended, is a serious problem professionally. So, to avoid this I would recommend setting up your export to be in the sRGB colour space and have a specific publishing setting for your Instagram images.
I hope this helps you out if you are experiencing the same issues. We all love photography and we all want our images to look their best. Especially if we are being judged on our most recent 9 images!
Thanks for reading, take care, have a good one,