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Rule-Breaking Resizing for Poster-Sized Prints

This is a resizing technique I learned from my friend (and world-famous nature photographer) Vincent Versace. His poster-sized prints (24x36") always look so sharp and crisp—but we're both shooting with the same 6-megapixel camera—so I had to ask him his secret. I figured he was using some scaling plug-in, but he said he does the whole thing in Photoshop. My thanks to Vinny for sharing his simple, yet brilliant technique with me, so I could share it with you.

Step One

Open the photo you want to resize, then go under the Image menu and choose Image Size. By the way, in Photoshop CS2 Adobe finally added a keyboard shortcut to get to the Image Size dialog: Command-Option-I (PC: Ctrl-Alt-I).

Step Two

Type in the dimensions you want as your final print size. The original height for my 6-megapixel image is just a hair over 14", so when I type 36" for the Height, the Width field will automatically adjust to just over 25" (the Width and Height are linked proportionally by default—adjust one and the other adjusts in kind; here I'll have to crop my width down to 24"). Of course, not all images scale perfectly, so depending on how many megapixels your camera is, you may not be able to get exactly 24" (and in fact, you may not want to go that big. But if you do, you might need to enter more than 36" to make your width reach 24", and then you can go back and crop your height down to 36" [see the "Cropping to a Specific Size" technique earlier in this chapter]).

Step Three

Once your size is in place, you'll need to adjust your resolution upward, so go to the Resolution field and enter 360. Now, you know and I know that this goes against every tried-and-true rule of resolution, and breaks the never-just-type-in-a-higher-number-with-the-Resample-Image-checkbox-turned-on rule that we all live and die by, but stick with me on this one—you've got to try it to believe it. So, type it in, grit your teeth, but don't click OK yet.

Step Four

Back in Photoshop CS, Adobe introduced some new sampling algorithms for resizing images. According to Vincent's research, the key to this resizing technique is to not use the sampling method Adobe recommends (which is Bicubic Smoother), and instead to choose Bicubic Sharper in the Resample Image pop-up menu, which actually provides better results—so much so that Vincent claims that the printed results are not only just as good, but perhaps better than those produced by the expensive, fancy-schmancy upsizing plug-ins.

Step Five

I've tried this technique numerous times, and I have to say—the results are pretty stunning. But don't take my word for it—click OK, print it out, and see for yourself. Here's the final image resized to 24x36" (you can see the size in the rulers by pressing Command-R [PC: Ctrl-R]).

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