gif life: overcoming the dreaded “Error uploading photo”
many a young tumblrer knows the agony of trying to post that perfect gif — one that’s under 1mb, 500 pixels wide,* etc — only to get an error. what’s up with that?
though it’s possible to get this error due to irregularities in your file (wrong color mode, unusual compression settings), most of the time this means your gif is too brightly colored (or “saturated”). tumblr struggles with gifs that have super-bright colors, much to users’ dismay. the quickest way to fix this if you’re using photoshop is to add an adjustment layer and reduce the saturation and brightness.
1. go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer and choose either Brightness/Contrast or Hue/Saturation.
2. click OK in the New Layer dialog box and then make sure the adjustment layer is on top — it will only affect layers beneath it, so if it’s not on top of any layers that need to be darkened then this won’t work.
3. drag the Saturation and Lightness sliders a bit to the left, then re-export your gif and try to repost to tumblr. depending on your gif, you may not need to reduce these settings by very much — for this example, setting each to -6 was sufficient. the darkest i think i’ve had to go was -10 saturation and -15 lightness, which is noticeably darker but better than not being able to post the gif at all.
these instructions and screenshots are for photoshop (specifically cs5) but the principles should apply in other image editors. if there’s interest, i may write up how to do this in GIMP, which is free but which i don’t currently have installed.
* tumblr will sometimes let you post gifs wider than 500px (see here for an example), but not consistently. i haven’t done enough experimenting to say for certain why this is; my current hypothesis is that it has to do with number of frames.