January 5, 2014

Such ugliness should be an opt-in, not a secret vice. (An open letter.) [Puzzling color corruption in uploaded images turns out to be Google "auto-enhancement."]

Dear Google, please consider making the "auto-enhancement" of uploaded images an opt-in choice, rather than a hidden default.

I like your picasaweb cloud-based photo-hosting service, which I've been using for years. Recently, though, I discovered that I had a problem: newly uploaded photos had corrupt colors. Ugh. I tried deleting and repeating; same problem. What could the issue be? Was this a color management problem for which I was somehow responsible? Actually, no. Turns out, it was something that you, Google, see as a feature.

A few months ago, I found that it was necessary to upgrade my Google account to a "Google plus membership," in order to attend a meeting via a "Google plus video hangout." So, I did. Turns out that you processed all my image uploads thereafter using a feature that you, Google, call "image auto-enhance." Those bad colors were your idea of "enhancement:"



I've now cancelled the "enhancement" of those photos (individually, as you gave me no way to do so en masse; I was relieved that I did not have to re-upload everything). And I've also turned off the "auto-enhancement" of newly uploaded photos, going forwards.

In general, I do not alter my photographs. Light goes through a lens, and hits a sensor, and electrons get happy, and a file is written; that is what I want to see. How dare you, Google, presume that you should "auto-enhance" any image that I entrust to you for storage? And how dare you, Google, presume to do so without even telling me?

In closing: Dear Google, without mentioning that you would modify the images I uploaded, you made them ugly. I've fixed this issue with respect to my own image uploads. I respectfully suggest that in order to spare other people similar ugliness, confusion, and delay, that you please make image "auto-enhance" an opt-in choice, rather than a hidden default.

Jim Pekar
Kensington, Maryland, USA

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