Seems throughout the last decade or so of large and larger captures, scans, bit depth, layers, etc etc, there is the constant proclamation that memory is now cheap, storage is cheap, go for it! If you are on Macs like me, the ongoing OS evolution, chips sets, software has become burdensome. Suddenly I need a new feature in my bookkeeping software, but the upgrade won’t work on that chipset, meaning an entire new computer, meaning a lot of other software will need expensive upgrading too, just to remain where I was. The high tech industry depends on this of course, but in this economy, for us in the 99%, it’s become impossible. My approach to my hardware and software has become like my grandfather’s approach to his car, he learned everything he could about it’s workings and kept the same old Chrysler going for years and years. It got him from place to place, the heater worked fine, what’s not to like? However, with our larger and larger prints, big scans and captures, added with the ability to utilize a lot of great editing tools on high bit files, horsepower and storage would be good to have in spades. For those of us with particular interest in high quality black and white, it’s critical to avoid loss in single channel files, even more important if we are printing with extremely linear and continuous tone systems like K7. So, here is my workaround for keeping file size and CPU usage reasonable for my collection of old Chrysler like Macs. It’s simple, works well, and makes sense on a variety of levels, particularly if doing ongoing editing for others. My screen shots etc will be on a Mac, CS5, but I have been using this workflow for years on a variety of machines.
This is a 16 bit drum 2000ppi scan of a 5×7 B&W negative, the file size is 242.3MB, it is saved in this form.
The first step is to convert it to 8 bit, and SAVE AS, with an altered name, I usually just add “-8” to the end of the existing name.
Now all the editing begins, always using adjustment layers. Many people like to work on the image layer itself, using a variety of tools, I do not. I work for myself and others and need to make and un-make edits quickly and easily. It’s important to remember the pixel dimension must not be changed for this to work, no cropping or image size changes. I use this file to make hard proofs as I go, to see if the edits are working on paper. Sometimes a curve layer will have a new version, with the previous turned off, so I can easily go back if necessary. If I want to preview a crop, or have decided on one as I work, I used a masked levels layer as seen on this file. So, these are my tonal adjustments for this image, as adjustment layers on an 8 bit file.