One question I see getting asked a lot is why your photo looks different from Lightroom to your phone or even from Lightroom to your Internet browser.
There are a few potential answers to this and it really depends on what exactly your situation is, so here we will have a look at the two most common reasons that your photos look different from your computer to your phone.
Computer To Phone
The main issues I see from people here is:
- photos are much darker on their phone (or have more contrast)
- photos have a lot more saturation/colour on their phone.
- photos are a slightly different colour (too blue, too yellow, too green) on their phone.
The reason for this is pretty simple. Phones are made to be quite flashy and exciting; they want you to watch movies and use them as much as possible, therefore they make the blacks very black and the colour is very strong.
This means that when you’re watching movies or scrolling on social media, it’s more engaging, it’s more interesting because there are colours and there is contrast.
Aside from that, different phone models and brands will have different colour profiles. So my iPhone might render things slightly more yellow, whereas your Samsung might render things slightly more blue or more magenta. Your Samsung might not make things as contrasted as my iPhone. It really does very from phone to phone model to model.
So what can you do about it? Not much really. It does depend a bit on the computer screen that you’re using and whether it’s calibrated.
For me for example, I know that my computer monitor is calibrated, therefore it is the correct contrast and the correct colours. If I went to print any of my photos they would print as they look on my computer, assuming I used a good print lab that actually rendered colours and contrasts correctly.
If you take your photos to a cheap DIY print lab than the colours and contrasts might be all over the place. But in general, if your computer monitor is correct, then your images will be “correct”.
That being said if you haven’t calibrated your monitor then it will have its own colour profile which might mean that it is rendering colours and contrast slightly different than everybody else as well, so you’re going to be coming up against two problems. I know some students who have very matte computer monitors, which means their colours and contrasts are very soft and muted, however when they take those photos to their phone, the colours are extremely saturated. In this case, it is a combination of the matte screen AND the added contrast/saturation from the phone!
This doesn’t mean you all need to rush out and calibrate your screen or buy a screen calibrator, unless you’re wanting to become a professional. It’s just worth being aware that even your computer might not be “correct”
One thing I see happening a lot is people driving themselves crazy trying to edit their photos so that they look on their phone like they do on their computer.
To me this just isn’t going to work because while it might look that way on your phone, somebody with a different kind of phone or a different model of phone will actually see those colours and contrasts differently.
The best thing is to try and find a neutral space. Most people will be viewing images with their phones, yes, but it’s impossible to edit for every phone! So find an edit you’re happy with, know that when you finish editing on the computer you may need to lower saturation or contrast a little bit. Get some feedback from others (especially photographers) to see how it shows up on their screens so you can build an understanding of what the general consensus is. If everyone says “it’s too dark” then it’s probably too dark and not just your phone.
But don’t drive yourself crazy trying to make the phone version match the computer version, because the next person who views it will probably have a slightly different colour profile anyway!
Computer to Browser
I haven’t seen this issue come up quite so much, but it does surface every now and then so I’m going to add it here in case you run into this problem.
One thing that I’ve seen happening particularly with Windows 10 (I believe) is that people will see a drastic change in their images from lightroom to the Photo Preview program. I have a Mac so I don’t know exactly what program it is, but essentially this is just the difference between a colour managed program or software and a non-colour managed program or software.
If you see weird problems like this coming up, so for example you’ve edited your photo and then you export it to your browser, and then you look at it and it’s totally magenta, do a quick google search. Put in the name of your operating system and what the problem is. Usually somebody else will have had the same problem, particularly if it something strange and inexplicable like the colour is randomly changing for no reason.