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If you're taking advantage of Photoshop's ability to work with 16-bit per channel images. Then you're probably deriving some benefit in terms of smooth gradations, and a broader range of possible color and tonal values in your photos. But that also means that you're missing out on some of the filters that are available. Because many of Photoshop's artistic or creative filters only work with 8-bit per channel images. For example, this image is in the 16-bit per channel mode, that's indicated on the tab here. After RGB, the number 16 indicates 16-bits per channel.
I can also look on the Image menu under Mode and see which current bit depth is selection. In this case, again 16-bits per channel. And so, if I go to the Filter menu, you'll see that the Filter gallery is not available. Some of the Filter submenus are not available, and even within some of those submenus, you'll find that certain of the filters are currently not available.. That's because many of the filters in Photoshop only support 8-bit per channel images. Of course, you probably don't want to convert your master image files from 16-bit to 8-bit just to have access to some more filters.
But if you do want to apply creative filters to an image, then you probably want to create a derivative copy so that you can convert that copy to 8-bit per channel mode. Let's take a look at that process. I'll go ahead and go to the Image menu and choose Duplicate. And that will bring up the Duplicate Image dialog where I can specify the base file name for the new image. I'll just go ahead and change this to Carrots Creative, meaning I'm producing a creative interpretation of my carrots image. And I'm also going to turn on the duplicate merged layers only check box, which means that the duplicate image I'm creating will be flattened.
I'll go ahead and click OK in order to create that duplicate image, and you can see I now have two images open. The Carrots Creative image is a flattened version of my original, and I also have my original image with all of the layers intact. At this point, I can go ahead and close my original image since it's already saved to my hard drive and it has all of the layers intact. And that leaves only my creative interpretation of that image. And right from the start, I can go to the Image menu and chose Mode, followed by 8-bits per channel so that I can convert this image to 8-bit per channel mode.
And really, this is not a big problem at this point because this image is only going to receive Filter effects. All of the adjustments were already applied to the 16-bit per channel version of the image. And that image actually still exists on my hard drive. So, I can go back to that original image at any time if I'd like to. At this point, I can create a copy of my Background Image layer. I'll go ahead and drag the thumbnail for the Background layer down to the Create New Layer button at the bottom of the Layers panel. This enables me to get back to that original version of the image at any time.
But also, in some cases, I might apply a Filter effect to the background copy. And then, reduce the Opacity a little bit in order to allow the background to show through. I can then choose Filter > Convert for Smart Filters from the menu, and then click OK to confirm that change. So that my Background Copy layer is converted to a Smart Object. And that means that any filters I apply, and notice by the way that now I have full access to all of the filters that I'm interested in. Because I'm working with an 8-bit per channel image. But now, any filters that I do apply will be applied as a Smart Filter which maximizes my flexibility.
Because after applying that effect, I can always go back and change the settings for the filter. I can double-click on the name of the filter and adjust the settings for that specific filter. And I can also adjust the Opacity for that filter effect as well, allowing me to reveal part of the original image. And of course, working with this layer, I can also reduce the opacity of the overall layer, revealing part of the original photo if I'd like. So, we can achieve tremendous flexibility by working on a copy of our original image, a flattened copy of that image.
That has been converted to the 8-bit per channel mode so that we have all of the filter effects in Photoshop to choose from.
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