Resizing photos fixes broken histogram?

Excessive image editing in Photoshop for stock photography, web design and print has a habit of making a histogram all blocked and bitty or something like an old toothbrush – so knackered-looking – nobody really wants to use it.

However, there are times when excessive editing seems to be the only way to pull some value out of an image. There are also plenty of examples of really good-selling stock images that almost certainly have received their share of histogram abuse. But how do those clever web and print designers and multi-skilled photographers get away with it?

Perhaps they simply resize their images after editing!

I was trying to rescue an ordinary-looking image yesterday and gave the Nikon file a bit of a rogering. After noticing the resulting dismal histogram, I wondered if a resize with bicubic sharper would replace the missing image data my editing had destroyed

The process seemed to work!

See the images below for evidence:

Web design, print or photographer bad histogram

In this full size 4816 x 4216 image, the histogram is starting to come apart.


Web design, print or photographer fixed histogram

When reduced in Photoshop with bicubic sharper (for reduction) to 3450 x 3020, the histogram appears to have been largely repaired.


I’m yet to conduct further tests on this and as a result don’t know how far one can push a histogram before it can’t be recovered by resizing. But if the process works, then there may be a logical way to repair damaged histograms and keep the original file size.

  1. Open the RAW file as large as possible. In Adobe Bridge, there are options at the bottom which allow for a larger file to be created from the original RAW file. Also open the file at the highest bit rate.
  2. Conduct all the image processing that you can do at the highest bit rate before reducing the bit rate.
  3. Finish image processing that can only be done in 8bit.
  4. Now reduce the file size to the official pixel size. (12mp for D300, D90. 16mp for D7000 and/or similar for Canon cams).

Does the process work for you too? Anyone have anything else to add or a correction to make?

Update: I’ve now worked on another image to see how far this saving by resize will go. It can help a lot, but it’s certainly no panacea for all histogram ills. See the heavily processed image below and resulting histogram – saved by a combination of resizing and using an adjustment layer as per this site page:

Prettier, but heavily processed image saved by resizing and using an adjustment layer


A portion of this article has also been published on the Dreamstime Blog.

For more information, please contact Global Latitude – Web Design Durban, Web Design Pietermaritzburg, Web Design Johannesburg.

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