dircolors is something I would like to hate. It is so nice, though. I found some handy workarounds if you find yourself straining to see some of the colors because you, perhaps, opted for a light background color.
There are a few ways to go about this depending on your flavor of system.
First, you will need the existence of a light background dircolor file. Many times this can be found as /etc/DIR_COLORS.lightbgcolor .
One way to get this to work is to set an environment variable
eval `dircolors /etc/DIR_COLORS.lightbgcolor`
Another way to get the behavior, on some flavors of *nix, is to link this file to a dot file in your home directory.
ln -s /etc/DIR_COLORS.lightbgcolor ~/.dir_colors