I took this photo below and edited it a little. I didn't know where the lightning would hit so the lens was pretty wide. Since the lightning hit so far away, I scaled it up and blended it with the rest of the image so it looks closer, but I'd still like it to fill the frame more. I'm afraid if I try to scale it up any more, the poor quality will be apparent. Is there anything I can do in photoshop to improve the quality? I also accidentally took it as a jpeg, not raw, is there anything I can do to remove the jpeg artifact? By the way, my end goal is to print this picture. enter image description here


First off, I'd be very cautious about some of the things you have already done. Some of the editing you previously completed could have been done in a way to reduce the overall image quality. For example did you work within a TIFF file for all of your editing or did you save a few different versions of a JPEG? In addition the fact that you already scaled up the lightning portion of the image is a bit worrisome to me, as it leaves me wondering if that rescaling also caused loss of detail and introduction of artifacts.

Secondly, no - you cannot add quality to an image you already captured. If you took a very low resolution image, there is nothing in photoshop that is going to be able to regenerate new pixels that aren't there to begin with. What I would advise is:

  1. Ensure that your editing workflow is keeping in mind the fact that you want to hold on to every last bit of quality along the way (work with TIFF for example)
  2. Apply sharpening as your final step before exporting to print
  3. Print at a size appropriate for the final image dimensions
  4. Let your print lab scale up the image if you desire blowing it up, since they have software designed specifically to do this well and they do it often
  5. Keep in mind that most images printed on a wall are not created so that someone can inspect the image up close from a few inches away
  • I save my work as a psd. When I'm done, I save a copy as a jpeg
    – Ryan
    Feb 5 '17 at 19:59
  • And one small point to add to dpollitt answer. Use whatever is possible 16bit TIFF (or PSD) to have bigger range of values and not lost much quality Feb 6 '17 at 7:05

First, crop it so the lightning is off-center to make it more interesting. You might use the Rule of Thirds or some other amount to offset the subject.

Second, the amount of enlargement depends on the intended use. A rough guide is that ~300 dots [pixels]/inch (dpi) (~120 pixels/cm) produces an acceptable image, though some top-grade printers may be capable of 2,400 dpi. So if you're working with a 12,000,000 pixel image, perhaps 3,000 x 4,000 pixels, a print might be 10" x 13" (25 cm x 33 cm) before the dots become noticeable. But you're the judge. Consider that pointillists made a living from "grainy" images.

  • Be careful when talking about dpi for a printer: usually the resolution of a printer counts the number of ink droplet (or equivalent in another technology), which is either present or absent (i.e. 1 bit per color). You need a lot of them to render all the scale between white and black. OTOH, when counting the resolution of the image, one counts the number of pixels with something like 24 bits per pixel, i.e. each pixel can already render all possible colors. I'm pretty sure your 300 dpi refers to the later and 2400 dpi refers to the former. Feb 6 '17 at 7:39

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