Photo colour balance changed when uploaded

Hope I have the right topic here in the forums for this post. This is my first time posting in the forum so please direct me elsewhere if I’m off course.

My question is this: I just uploaded a photo of a spore print and noticed that the colour balance/temperature of the photo (sorry I’m a very amateur photographer and I’m not sure what the correct term is) has changed. My original file has an evident orange colour to the spore print, which is consistent with the print when I look at them in person. Once uploaded however, the temperature of the photo seems to be a lot cooler and the print looks hardly appears orange at all. Obviously this is a problem because the colour of the spores is important to identify some species of fungi.

Anyone know what might be the case here?

Did you take the photo on a cell phone camera or a stand-alone camera?

Does the color look off in the camera’s own memory/gallery?

Have you viewed the observation on multiple displays (eg. computer monitor vs cell phone) and if so, is the color wrong on all of them or just a particular monitor?

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iNat compresses images over a certain size. It’s possible that what you’re seeing is a result of said compression.

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it’s a stand-alone DSLR camera. Unfortunately I already cleared the memory and can’t upload a photo back onto the camera so can’t be sure. However, I did compare the original file and the file uploaded to inat and found the same change in temperature. I also used the paint program to select the same exact pixel from both files and blew them up to compare the colour difference and the original is noticeably more orange in hue. I ultimately, as earthknight sugests, it is a result of the compression the image undergoes when uploaded to inat.

I think you’re right unfortunately.

I’m not sure how compression works but maybe try resizing the photo before upload if you haven’t already?

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sounds like somehow the color space changed, but it would be helpful to see the uploaded photo and the original.

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I agree with previous user— probably a compression issue. If you want more detail on a specific area, add a second cropped photo of that area. Start with your original photo (not the one iNat has saved/compressed). Just something like a small square crop will do. Make sure you’re adding something that you feel really adds value to the observation. Then upload the second photo (personally, if it’s a square crop, I’d recommend making it the default image, as those look good on the app on project pages). Let me know if this worked for you.


Have you checked if the device you’re viewing your observation on has night shift/red shift turned on? I recently uploaded an observation of a pill bug with Invertebrate Iridescent Virus 31, which had a very apparent blue color when I saw it and took the picture, but it looked like a normal pill bug when I looked at it on my computer. I had to double check the original image to make sure that I hadn’t misremembered. I realized later that the night shift was enabled on my computer, which made the blue color less apparent.


Without the original photo there’s not much any of us can say definitively. I’ve never noticed this issue, for what it’s worth.

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Thank you for the suggestion. I tried it and it seems to have worked.

Here is the observation in question. The second photo is that of the spore print which I believe doesn’t reflect the true colour of the spores. The third photo is a cropped file taken from the original file and it retains the original colour of the spores.

A subtle difference on my screen:

Likely due to the compression. The differences between different digital screens are much higher. I’m afraid that if this extent of color difference can interfere with identification then this color variation character is not reliable or usable for determination - definitely not with digital media.

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Yes, I can see the color variation between the 2nd and 3rd photos of your observation. While I don’t know a thing about fungi, since you’ve informed us that the color variation is an important distinction, I recommend adding a Note to the observation stating that the 3rd photo has more color accuracy (compared to your original photo, pre-compression) than the 2nd photo.

FYI ~ iNat compresses the longest side to 2048px.


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