Portrait of Bride at a Wedding in Chandler Arizona

Enlarging Photographs for Print with Lightroom

Portrait of Bride at a Wedding in Chandler Arizona

I was producing a seriese of 30 inch prints for Hype Parke Jewelers, for a bridal wedding event at the Biltmore in Phoenix, Arizona and obviously needed to enlarge the image from about 20 inches to 30.  Shooting with the 5D Mark II, make enlargements a rare thing because the file is so big, but anytime I need to go beyond a 16×20, I need to do a little enlargement work on the image to make it work for the larger print.  In the past, I used Genuine Fractals  to enlarge my images and it did a fine job.  Recently, Genuine Fractals was apparently purchased by OnOne Software and then renamed to Perfect Resize.  I have been playing with it and while it does a god job, and actually does the math a lot faster than its predecessor, the interface is much, much slower.  Which lead me to ask myself, “do I need to use a third party software for standard enlargements?”

So, I decided to do a test.  I do a lot of tests… but I swear I do not have OCD.  But my obsession, turns out to be to your advantage.

First, I enlarged this image in Photoshop with the Perfect Resize 7.1 plug in to 30 inches wide at 300 dpi.  The results were acceptably good for the print.  You will see on the image below, that the process of resizing an image tends to create a painterly texture, but when printed, that texture is generally swallowed up in the texture of the print surface and the grain patterns of the emulsion.  So, I am pleased with the results and they will print nicely.  But, remember, I had to open the image in Photoshop and run it through the Perfect Resize plugin or run it through the Perfect Resize plugin in Lightroom, which has a very slow interface.

Enlargement by Perfect Resize 7.1 by OnOne Software

Then I went back to Lightroom and simply exported the image from Lightroom and told Lightroom to enlarge the file to 30 inches at 300 dpi with a standard print sharpening added to the image on export.  The process was a lot faster than dealing with the Perfect Resize interface and the results were just as good, if not better.  If you look at both images on the dark pupil and iris of the eye, you will see more of a painterly texture with a bit more banding in the Perfect Resize enlargement above than you will in the Lightroom version below.

Lightroom enlargement with print sharpening

So I wanted to see if I could do it even better right our of Lightroom without using any other software or Plugins.  And I promise, I am not OCD, I am just curious!  So I added a bit of grain to the image in Lightroom.  You can certainly see the grain in the image below, but observe what it has done in the pupil and iris area.  No more weird patterns.  I’m going to go with the added grain and no painterly patterns.  It is far more beautiful and takes a fraction of the time to make the enlargement.

Lightroom enlargement with LR sharpening and grain

Now, this was a fairly simple enlargement from 20 to 30 inches.  I am not saying that Perfect Resize is not a good tool for enlargement, it is very good, and indispensable when it comes to extreme enlargements, but for the day to day enlargements, I find that Lightroom does a fantastic job all on its own.  So I will trust Lightroom to make the enlargement and save my time for the more important things in life.

Now, I’m off to help my son solve an particularly hard level on Angry Birds.

For a step by step lesson on what I did to get these results in Lightroom, see the Lightroom Podcast below.

Making Photo Enlargements in Lightroom 3 from Jared Platt on Vimeo.

There are plenty of plugins and photoshop methods for enlarging photographs beyond their native size, but Lightroom 3 can match or beat even Genuine Fractals or Perfect Resize on standard every day enlargements.

In this video you will learn how to use Lightroom to enlarge your digital images without the use of Photoshop or a Plugin.

Photography Details

Photography by Jared Platt, Platt Photography

Subject: A Bridal Portrait

Location: The Inspiridor in Chandler, Arizona

Article on Burning and Dodging in Professional Photographer Magazine

I just received my copy of Professional Photographer Magazine where I wrote an article on burning and dodging in Photoshop.  It is a great article with a great photograph.  The reason the photograph is so perfect for the article is that it didn’t need a lot of retouching or manipulation, but still opening it in Photoshop was worthwhile.  There are so many subtle shadows and tones that can be enhanced by the process of burning and dodging, a photograph is just better once it has been burned and dodged.  My philosophy is very simple: I do not burn and dodge to change the photograph, but rather to enhance the natural shades and highlights that are already there.  You can see the final enhanced photograph below and on my portfolio web site at PlattPhotography.com.

Look for the magazine on the racks now.  If you don’t know how to burn and dodge your images in Photoshop, or if you are currently burning the actual image layer, you need to read the article.  If you are not a photographer and don’t know what I am talking about, it might get a little technical, so let’s just say, Jared wrote a cool how-to-article in Professional Photographer Magazine and his photographs are really great!

 Jared Platt - Photography article in professional photographer m

The photograph I chose to use for the article was one of my favorite images I shot on a wedding in Rome, Italy.  We woke up very early in the morning to get out before all the tourists.  This was the first image of the day, the Spanish Steps.  The Spanish Steps are so crowded with tourists and locals during the day that there is no way to take a great photo.  So we hit the them just as the sun was rising, as the vendors were preparing for the day, and the carriage operators were preparing their horses.  I couldn’t have asked for a better situation to take a beautiful photograph.  And let’s face it, who wouldn’t want a wedding portrait on the Spanish Steps in Rome, Italy?

When looking at this photograph, pay close attention to the incredible detail on the walls and the shutters.  All of these details, the stains and the cracks exist on the buildings naturally, but it was the process of burning and dodging that brought them out and made them so vivid.  This is the kind of detailed attention that every one of my “Art Prints” receives as I prepare them for my clients.  I personal work on every “Art Print” myself and each one is printed under my careful supervision.

 rome-italy-wedding-photography