8-bit vs 16-bit editing guide

The 8-bit vs 16-bit dilemma made easy.

Should I be working in 8 or 16-bit? I have been asked this question more than a few times by various people, who felt unsure, if they should be working in 8 or 16-bit mode. Should they develop always to 16-bit and then convert to 8-bit in Photoshop, if 16-bit of information is unnecessary for the image, or maybe always go with 8-bit? I had asked myself this question many times in the past, but only when I really sat down and thought about it, had all the ins and outs become obvious. So if you are one of those people read on!



Don’t get discouraged by these numbers in the beginning, in fact it’s all pretty simple.
In an 8 bit image (all jpgs for example) every pixel has 256 possible shades of Red (R), Green (G) and Blue (B), which we will refer to as 8-bit RGB. This totals to 16.8 million possible colors for combined RGB, whereas a 16-bit image has 65,536 possible shades in each channel, which gives us 281 trillion colors.

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What to retouch- The stress!

     People often discuss the many retouching techniques to achieve the “best” or most “natural” effect, for example for skin retouching. Although it is true, that proper techniques should be used to retain the structure of the skin, textiles, etc., in my understanding, it is just as important to understand what should be changed using these techniques, and not only concentrate on the how.

     I have met talented retouchers or photographers who retouch themselves; young, full of knowledge, tricks and technical skills and yet their post production work, look of final images, lacked something. At first I did not know what I was missing, it did take me a while to understand that most people, at least at the beginning of their career, tend to concentrate too much on the technical side and keep forgetting that the most important aspect is the esthetics of a photograph (not going into the meaning of an image and it’s impact on its value). Everyone prefers a beautiful although a bit poorly altered shot to an ugly perfectly retouched one.

     And so when we retouch a person, to make him beautiful, by which I mean to show his natural beauty, not making him into a Barbie, or just to make him look appropriate to the context of the image, we should concentrate much more on “revealing” the person’s face, than just on altering the skin texture or removing wrinkles.

     When retouching human faces there are a number of things we usually correct (and it is not whitening teeth as most people might think); the most important thing for me is stress and tiredness. How do you remove that, you might ask? In fact it is not that complicated.

After stress relieving treatment

After stress relieving treatment

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