This seems silly, but I have spent too much time searching and making my life over difficult -meaning I am doing something wrong: I have a TIFF file that is read correctly as one band by tools such as Rasterio, and other Python libraries, but both ArcGIS Desktop and Pro read the file as two-band (R+G), why!? Do I need to explicit request to import the file as one band? And if so how? Also, is there something missing in the file that makes Esri tools miss the fact that the file is one band?

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    Is the image monochrome + alpha? When you browse to it in Catalog and open the bands then preview is there data in the 2nd band? If it's empty you can export just the first band with GDAL Translate (-b 1 option) or from ArcCatalog by right clicking on the raster, select Raster to Different Format then specify the band by using the path to the raster and adding '\Band_1' like C:\some\path\raster.tif\Band_1 for example and the band can be exported. There are ways to remove a band but that would require coding. – Michael Stimson Nov 7 '19 at 2:50
  • yeah, apparently the alpha was read as the second band, thanks. – icypy Nov 7 '19 at 2:59
  • Esri is a little bit inflexible in some respects to alpha bands; you can use the stretched renderer to set the band combination Red:band_1, Green:band_1,Blue:band_1 and Alpha:band_2 to get a greyscale with alpha then save that as a layer file so next time you can import the symbology/band mapping from the saved layer. – Michael Stimson Nov 7 '19 at 3:04

So the problem was indeed that ArcGIS reads the alpha band as the second band (green - in RGB) which caused the confusion.

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