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TIFF and PSD File Format

Blog: #18 of 33 by Frank Feliciano

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June 19th, 2013 - 06:15 AM

TIFF originally Tagged Image File Format was used by graphic artists, professional photographers and publishers. This is a lossless file format which is recognized and actually owned by Adobe Systems so it works well in Adobe Photoshop products. Because it is a lossless format it creates extremely large size files. These files are recognized by various types of hardware devises and software programs, such as scanners, printers, word processing, image manipulating software so they are very versatile files.

These files are great for in-house printing because they are rich in detail and color tonality. However, many commercial printing companies shy away because they are large files and take up lots of computer space and they take time for uploading and downloading to and from the internet. No matter how many times you open and close one of these files, work on them and save them again, they will not degrade, nor will they get smaller, in fact they can get larger if you add processes such as tone mapping.

Better be prepared for slow processing times unless you have a serious amount of random access memory in your computer. Forty five megapixel TIFF files are not unusual for small size prints.

PSD or Photoshop Document files are also a lossless file format and large files. The best thing about PSD files is that when you work with them on Adobe products and you use layers and filters to create a master piece which you then save in PSD file format, none of the details of your work in the layers is lost. So letís say you start working on a file and you get interrupted by life and you have to save the file and come back to it later. When you open the PSD again, an hour later or even a month later, you can continue right where you left off, assuming you remember where you left off. But the point is that if you want to adjust the amount of opacity on a layer you can or if you want to modify a filter it isnít a problem. However, for example if you had saved the same master piece in a JPG file format none of the layers or adjustments would be available to you in the future and you would have to start all over again if you wanted to duplicate the file to where you saved it then modify the file, good luck with that project.

Whenever I do a lot of work on a file with several layers of various adjustments, I will save the file as a PSD first. Then when and if I think Iím finished with the file I will save it as a High Resolution JPG for FAA posting. That is a safe guard in case I want to make adjustments later. I use this particularly if I create a black and white image because I always want to look at it as a sepia toned image for that aged look.

There are certainly lots of other file formats out there, but these are four of the most popular and many have variations such as JPG 2000 or PSB or EPS. Whatever your work flow needs are, make sure your target customer has the proper equipment and skill to open and view you work product otherwise they may open a file and get a bunch of letters and numbers and numbers and letters. Youíve done it, we all have opened a file in Windows Photo Viewer looking for a photo and there is no photo just letters and numbers. Then you scrolled down to see if the image was lower down, but still nothing but letters and numbers. These letters and numbers are the pixel address and information regarding color etc. for each pixel in an image. The file was sent if a file format which the software could not read such as PSD or TIFF. That is why the JPG format is so ubiquitous, because it can be read by most software programs.

TIFF and PSD File Format

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07:40 AM

Perry, FL

Great advice and detail. Thanks Frank.


07:51 AM

Tallahassee, FL

Thank you Bill for commenting and participating in the group and blog. Frank


08:08 AM

Pensacola, FL

Thank you for giving such specific information, Frank. I am new to photography, having started by taking reference photos for my artwork, and have gotten hooked. The concrete details you offer are so instructive and "user friendly."


09:16 AM

St. Clairsville, OH

Good Morning, Nice post on the TIFF files. I like the TIFF files and have used them in the past. I think they are better for printing and have used them to print my personal photos. It would be nice if FAA allowed this format because I think the prints would be more vibrant.


09:40 AM

New York, NY

Didn't know that. Thanks so much for this useful piece of information.


11:43 AM

Temecula, CA

Just to be clear, you can also save layers in a Tiff File albeit a slightly larger file size than a PSD. Good article


01:03 PM

Tampa, FL

Thanks Frank for explaining that so well that I could understand it! Good information!


11:52 PM

Vancouver, WA

I love your blogs and look forward to each one! They are so instructional and easy to understand. I don't consider myself a photographer, professionally, but have used photoshop for years for photo restoration and also for reference for my paintings. I was self-taught with photoshop, so I really appreciate all the info you are giving! Thanks for making the technical aspects so easy to understand!!!!


01:36 AM

Fairview, OR

Thank You, Frank!


05:37 AM

Tallahassee, FL

Thank you all for your comments, I appreciate that you are group members and participate regularly, but I really appreciate the blog participation. I would have hated to do all the work and not have anyone visit the blog.


05:52 AM

Tallahassee, FL

Pete, you are right, I did forget to mention that you can save the layers in TIFF files. Keep an eye on me when I get on a rant, I also get target lock and may miss a few tangential details.


11:07 PM

Miami Beach, FL

Excellent explanation. Thank you Frank.


07:28 AM

Tallahassee, FL

Thanks for your participation Rene and your comment of course. Love the South Florida images, I miss being down there. Going to have to make a weekend trip.


01:00 PM

Toronto, ON

I can use this!


07:08 AM

Tallahassee, FL

We can all use it, thanks for your comment.


07:12 AM

New Smyrna Beach, FL

Great information! Appreciate it....YOu need to write a book out of your blog information, I think....Well done! and useful....


07:12 AM

Tallahassee, FL

Thanks for the vote of confidence, but there are already too many photography books out there and that would be too much like work. I'd have to pick my brain and believe me, there are slim pickin's there...