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In Photoshop CS5: Landscape Photography, Ben Long outlines a full, shooting-to-output workflow geared specifically toward the needs of landscape photographers, with a special emphasis on composition, exposure enhancement, and retouching. This course also covers converting to black and white, using high-dynamic range (HDR) imaging techniques to capture an image that’s closer to what your eye sees, and preparing images for large-format printing. Learn to bring back the impact of the original scene with some simple post-processing in Photoshop. Exercise files are included with the course.
You'll almost always need to reduce your images for output because typically your camera will capture far more data than you need for most common print sizes. But occasionally, you'll want to enlarge them to produce poster size prints. Especially as a landscape photographer, you'll probably find yourself wanting to print big, whether you have a large printer of your own or you're using an online photo printing service. You can handle all that resizing in Photoshop's Image Size dialog box. We looked at the Image Size in the last lesson and went through its controls. We were entirely doing reductions in the last lesson.
We're going to talk about enlargements now. So I've got here my image as it came out of the camera, 4300 x 2900 pixels. It's set for 240 pixels per inch, which gives me an 18 x 12. It's defaulting to 240 because, as I mentioned before, that's pretty much of all the resolution that you need for an inkjet print. So let's look at if we wanted to go bigger, so 18X12, all that's a pretty big. Well, let's say we wanted a 24 inch-wide image. I'm going to turn off Resample. I always do this first. I work with Resample off, just to see what I can get away with the native resolution of the image.
So if I hit 24 inches wide, my resolution goes down to 180. That's really not bad for a large print because, as I mentioned before, a large print is going to be viewed from farther away, so you don't need super-dense pixel resolution. Billboards have a resolution of two or three pixels per inch, because they're viewed from hundreds of yards away, and they look fine. If you're just looking from across your living room, you can probably get away with pretty low resolution. But let's say I wanted to go up to 36 inches wid.,Mmaybe I have a very large printer at my disposal, and I want a huge print of this.
Now I'm down to 121. That's getting pretty low. That's probably lower than we would like to have. If we could get that back up to 180, would be in pretty good shape. Obviously, if we could get it up to the 300, we'd be in great shape, but we don't need a 300 pixel per inch image at the size. So let's put it back up to 180. As we saw before, if I put in 180 here, my print size goes back down to 24, because all three of these are linked, because I cannot change the number of pixels in the image. I want to change a number of pixels in the image, so I'm going to check Resample image.
I'm at 180 here, which is good. I'm going to put this thing back up to 36. Now when I do that, Photoshop has to make up some data. Look at my Width. It's gone from 4000 up to 6000. Photoshop is going to have to interpolate and add some pixels. It's going to analyze each pair of pixels and find new data to go in between them, and it has many different algorithms that it can use for doing that interpolation. That's what this pop-up menu is down here. It defaults to a Bicubic Interpolation.
These are just the names of the algorithms the Photoshop uses for making up new pixels. If I open it up, you see we have several algorithms, and one of them is listed as best for enlargement, Bicubic Smoother. It's really worth checking this. You can get good results from Bicubic, but a lot of times you will notice better results with Bicubic Smoother, and where you'll notice it, actually in the image, we'd probably do fine with Bicubic, because we don't have any really strong diagonal lines that could start to show stair stepping. So it's just best to always choose Bicubic Smoother for when you're enlarging.
Bicubic can be used for enlarging or reduction. Photoshop also includes Bicubic Sharper, which they say is best for reduction, and it does do a very good job with reduction. I've never been able to tell as much difference between Bicubic and Bicubic Sharper. But when you're reducing, there's no harm in switching over to this. So, we put this on Bicubic Smoother, and then we hit OK, and Photoshop is going to think for awhile because it's got a bunch of data to make up. But when it's done, my image comes in zoomed in, because it's still - I was set at 22% before, as far as my zoom ratio goes, and now I'm zoomed in to a larger image.
So, let's go back up to the Image Size, and we'll see that I've now 6400 pixels. My image has gone up to 160 megabytes. I'm going to hit Command+0 to fit the image. My image doesn't look that much different, except that when I started looking down here, I see it's a lot softer, and that's the first you're going to notice anytime you do an enlargement is you're going to suffer a sharpness penalty. This is why, in our Output Workflow, we start with sizing our image, because there's no point in sharpening an image if we're then going to blow it up later and introduce a bunch of softening.
Similarly, there's no point in sharpening an image if we're going to reduce it, because when we reduce an image, we will pick up some sharpness. So we do our sizing first. So plainly, this image is going to need a fairly aggressive level of sharpening before we're ready to output. If you get lost in the in Image Size dialog box, just remember, look for its clues. Over here, it shows you which fields are linked together and pay attention to the fact that one box is total number of pixels in the image, the other box is Print Size, and there's a relationship between these two things.
Image Size is very well designed in its interface and in cluing you in to how these things work together. And with just a little bit of the practice, you'll get good at using it.
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