by Tony Moore Published 01/04/2018
The reconstruction of the lower portion of the music studio (obscured by the patio wall) required more than 20 layers and was one of the more timeconsuming tasks.
Image size starts to become an issue with layered files of this complexity even more so with today’s high-pixel-count DSLRs and 16-bit Smart Objects. This can be alleviated to some extent by completing portions of a file separately for incorporation downstream in the process. By way of example, Tony’s work files were 1.5GB from a bare pixel count that only reached 34.4Mb in 16-bit. With Smart Objects and Smart Filters file sizes can be boosted even further so that the Photoshop limit is reached*.
*Limits on File Sizes
There is a general working limit of 2GB for both TIFF files and PSD (Photoshop) files. The Windows limit is actually 4GB but use of the so-called ‘signed integers’ in 32-bit computing drops this back to 2GB in practice for both TIFF and PSD files. The pixel limit for PSD and TIFF is 30,000x30,000 pixels. Use of Photoshop Big File format (PSB) pushes this limit to 300,000x300,000 pixels plus a file size limit of 4 exabytes (a whopping 4 million terabytes!).
Adobe engineers consider PSD format to be reaching its end of life and TIFF is becoming the new preferred format. The increase in size has been driven by the availability of larger camera chips and panorama stitching requirements (at Imagemaker our current big daddy for panos is 27GB but that was a 52-foot print). Some RIPs can handle larger than 2GB files, but you might need to check with your service provider. It would be unusual to run into unsurmountable problems with today’s systems. Digitally printed wallpapers have also added to the demands on big files. Another newer file format is BIGTIFF, which releases the constraints beyond the TIFF limit of 4GB and allows for more variations in bit-depth (currently even-numbered values only). The format is presently limited to specialist scientific and medical cameras, but they are Photoshop-readable in the latest versions.
The prevalence of LED lighting has become something of a problem for today’s architectural specialist. Although it did not affect the final output of Tony’s shot in this instance, much of architectural commercial work is targeted for four-colour print output. The restricted gamut of the process has to be considered if this is the intended output. As a matter of course, we check such images ahead of printing in Imagemaker against our press conditions of Fogra 39L. This indicates the colour shift that will occur on press and if it looks problematic we will also show the soft proof with the ‘Gamut Warning’ active. It is not possible to reproduce the intense blue from an LED light and in this case there was a loss of 4/5 of the Lab a value and more than half of the Lab b value (45/28/-86 down to 40/5/-45 for the record). However, the area involved was quite a small part of the image and we elected to leave the file as it was. This would not have been the case if we were prepping for a cover shot or perhaps if the areas of both blue and magenta LED were larger – such examples are common for interior bar scenes. We only write about this to warn against the shock that can occur for the unwary!
The Final Word
It has been instructive to learn from Tony his methods of moulding what can be quite ordinary building scenes into real ‘wow pictures’ that clients willingly pay lots for! The complexity of the layers palette gives a warning to the would-be imitator of just how much skill is required in the toolbox. Tony has devoted many hours of training and practice to bring out his very distinctive style and is starting to reap the rewards both in Societies’ golds and commercially – we wish him well!
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