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How To Crop Your Photos and Recover 100% Resolution with Gigapixel AI

Sometimes you want to work with a portion of a photo, but "cropping in" reduces resolution. Gigapixel AI helps you crop images without compromising your pixel count.

It’s a great feeling to find the perfect image for your project, but what if you only want to work with a portion of the photo? Cropping into an image reduces the overall resolution which limits your use—especially for print, where every pixel counts. Let’s take a look at how Gigapixel AI can help you upsize your cropped photos by up to 600% and restore full-size resolution.

Crop and Resize with Gigapixel AI

Let’s start with a great image that would be made better with cropping. You can follow along yourself by downloading a totally free trial of Gigapixel AI, and downloading our free demo image.

The image we’re working with is 1920 x 1276 pixels, which is suitable for most uses but we want to crop tightly on the model’s face. 

Launch the image in Gigapixel AI, and click on the crop tool to select your crop. Apply your selection. After cropping, our image is now only 484 x 294 pixels—not much to work with here! Let’s see how Gigapixel can improve this crop.

In the main Gigapixel AI interface, we see a preview of 4X upscaling, which gives us an output of 1936 x 1176 pixels. You’ll see that the compression artifacts are gone, the model’s skin is smooth, and the details are sharp. But can we go even further?

We bump up our photo enlargement to 6X, or 600% larger than the cropped resolution. 

This gives us an output of 2904 x 1764 pixels — larger than our original uncropped image — and yet the output is still silky smooth with sharp detail in the right places. 

Gigapixel AI proves yet again to be an incredible image upscaling tool. But how does it compare to Photoshop?

Gigapixel AI vs Photoshop

 Let’s see whether Gigapixel can beat Photoshop, using the latest 2021 edition of Photoshop and its best image enlargement mode.

Using the same image and crop, we attempted 600% image upscaling in Photoshop 2021 using the Bicubic Smoother (enlargement) resampling mode.

The upscaling results in Photoshop were completely underwhelming. Compression artifacts are everywhere, and there is a lack of detail across the entire image. 

A side-by-side comparison says it all. Gigapixel drastically outperforms Photoshop even up to 6X image upscaling. 

Unlike older image editing algorithms, Gigapixel uses machine-learning technology to analyze your photo alongside millions of images to intelligently calculate the best output — this is why the results continue to shock and impress photographers all over the world. Try it totally free and see for yourself!

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Capturing the “Miniature” Moments in Nature with Travis Hale

Tell us a little bit about your background and how you got into photography.

I initially became involved in photography in 2014, starting with general landscape and nature photography. I very quickly developed a passion for the natural world including birds in-flight, insects and spiders (but only the cute ones). It had been a while since I had participated in any photography (back in school with a film camera) and having seen some photos online, I thought it might be time to take up digital photography. Once I started getting back into it, the natural progression for me was expanding into micro and macro photography, since I conduct a significant amount of microscopy through my profession. I quickly discovered the beauty of nature both on the large (e.g. wildlife) and tiny scale (e.g. microbial life).

With your background in microbiology and microscopy, how does that affect how you see a subject in your photographs?

The microscopic world opens up a whole range of possibilities, many are right in front of our eyes without us even knowing. I think the more you get involved in the macro and microscopic worlds, the more you start to look for the finer details in a photo, things like patterns which may not always be visible to the naked eye. This can be things like disused timber, peppercorns and even the colors that appear from a crystal (like Aspirin below) when you cross-polarize the light. These are not manipulated colors but what actually comes from the camera.

Crystals from an aspirin tablet captured by polarized light microscopy.
Benzoic acid crystals captured by polarized light microscopy.

This kind of photography can be so difficult to master, but you make it look so easy! What advice would you give to a photographer looking to take and perfect their own macro and micro photos?

There are two areas to look at; microphotography usually requires some specialized equipment (e.g. a microscope) to get started and is, in my view, the more difficult of the two. I have an article on my specific microscopy setup and some on focus stacking (which is generally required for microscopy due to the shallow depth of field). 

In terms of macro photography, that is much easier to get started in. It may be worth considering extension tubes, which are a cheaper alternative to a macro lens, but eventually the lens is the way to go if you can fit it in your budget. The benefit of digital photography, in general, is that you really get the chance to see what is working and what is not working as you go, so then start to adjust your technique as you take your photos. 

This is especially important with macro photography as this has a shallow depth of field and can be less forgiving than other styles. Essentially though it comes down to practice (there is no shortcut). Start off with simple still objects (pepper, soap bubbles, kitchen items etc.) and progressively move through to leaves, flowers and then to other things such as insects.

Iridium captured under a microscope.
Stained cross section of a pine needle.

I am a strong believer in “do no harm”, so when capturing images of insects, it is important to capture and photograph them in a delicate and harmless way. As you start to progress, also remember to be aware of your surroundings and to treat the creatures with respect. It can be very easy to get lost through the lens when photographing something like a bee, where you may disturb others, possibly resulting in injury.

How did you develop your style? Which tools do you find completely irreplaceable in your workflow?

I have an interest in the natural world, and I think to a certain extent my style came from that. I like showing the detail within a scene or flora or fauna, which can include things like the structure, but also equally the colors. I think photography is a great tool that really allows us to share the fascinating world with others who may not always be able to see / experience these things.

I use a number of different tools based on the style and look of the photo. I usually start off with Lightroom as a digital asset manager, from there I begin to work on the photo using a range of different photo editing tools. This often includes Topaz Adjust AI to bring out the colors, clarity and detail. 

For the macro work, Topaz Gigapixel AI has become a great tool within my workflow as it allows me to really increase the resolution of the image. This is especially important when the image is tightly cropped as is often the case with macro work.

For night and low light photos, I find Topaz DeNoise AI invaluable as it is rare that a night photograph is taken without having some noise (be it from high ISO, or thermal / sensor noise from long exposures).

Several of your presets appear in the new Adjust AI, including: HDR Natural Boost, Vivid Night, and Landscape Pro. Would you tell us a bit more about the inspiration behind these presets? 

Vivid Night is all about taking some of your night-time cityscape photos and bringing them to life through boosting the colors, contrast and clarity. This preset was inspired from a night photo I took at Docklands, Victoria which included the Melbourne Star Observation wheel which lights up at night. The photo did not do the scene justice and this preset was designed to bring out the detail and color we often see in night scenes but don’t always replicate in the photos themselves.

Melbourne Star Observation wheel.

Landscape Pro is all about making your landscape images pop. This uses the AI (Standard mode), as well as making adjustments to contrast and clarity, which is often an issue with landscape photos.

Finally, HDR Natural Boost was designed around making improvements to your animal and wildlife photos. It does this by using the auto-adjust AI tool (HDR mode) and then making a range of changes to the clarity, contrast and sharpness.

What images do you particularly cherish? What is one of your most memorable shoots?

I have a range of photos I really cherish, especially the one below. I love this because of the beauty of the butterfly. They really are incredible creatures and a delight to photograph. This was at a zoo, so it made it much easier since they practically landed on you. I did try and return with my six-year-old daughter, however, it turns out she is terrified of butterflies (and especially them landing on her) so that was a very short-lived stay in the butterfly house!

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Getting Started with Topaz Gigapixel AI

This article is to introduce you to and provide you with some helpful resources to using Topaz Gigapixel AI, the industry’s most advanced upscaling and photo enlargement solution powered by artificial intelligence!

Why You’d Want to Use Topaz Gigapixel AI

Gigapixel AI breathes new life into images that you may have previously considered impossible to enlarge. Whether it’s a photo from vacation 10 years ago in your low-res image library, smartphone photos, a cropped image you’d like to add resolution to, a full-size image you want to turn into an even larger print, scanned photos that leave something to be desired, or a high-quality video still, Gigapixel AI allows you to upscale your photos by up to 600% while preserving image quality.

No matter why you’re enlarging your photos, you always want the best possible quality for your results. So, let’s get into Gigapixel AI!

When to Use Topaz Gigapixel AI in Your Workflow

We recommend using Gigapixel AI at the end of your photo editing workflow to finish an image that has been edited in Topaz Studio, Adobe Photoshop, Lightroom, or other image editing software. This will minimize the amount of work needed to fine-tune the image post-upsampling!

How Topaz Gigapixel AI Works

Traditional up-scale methods use “interpolation” (bi-cubic, Lanczos, fractal, etc.) to create higher resolution images, but exhibit limitations such as loss of detail and sharpness, which causes very pixelated and blurry upsampled images. Gigapixel AI, however, analyzes the image and recognizes details and structures and “completes” the image with AI models that we have trained in our lab!

Our AI models are trained with thousands of images with different resolutions to learn how to distinguish poorly upsampled images from high-quality upsampled images. During this training period, our models not only learn to distinguish quality, but also learn to recognize certain structures within the image. This information is committed to memory and used later as a reference to complete and achieve high-quality upsampled images.

Installation Tips

Here’s a quick rundown to get you up and running with Topaz Gigapixel AI!

BEFORE YOU DOWNLOAD, Gigapixel AI has higher requirements than some of our other applications, so please check out the requirements below and see what kind of performance to expect:

After meeting the requirements, simply follow the directions below:

  • Download Gigapixel AI from the Topaz Labs Downloads Page.
  • Log in with your Topaz Labs account or the email address that you used to purchase.

To start a free, 30-day trial, please follow the directions below:

Extra Tip: Started a trial, bought the product, and still seeing “trial” on the application? No worries. Simply click “Help” in the top toolbar and then click “Update Product Ownership.” And with just those few clicks, your product will be updated.

Using Gigapixel AI

Ready for a crash course in Gigapixel AI to get started? Check out our 5 minute walkthrough for a quick tutorial!

Other Resources for Gigapixel AI

We’re fortunate to have several Topaz product educators that help us out with live, instructional webinars! Greg Rostami started working with Topaz Labs over 10 years ago as a product evangelist at trade shows. In this recorded webinar, Greg showcases several examples of how Gigapixel AI can fine-tune all of the missing details when enlarging photos.

Still have some questions on Gigapixel AI? No worries. We’ve gathered up some frequently asked questions and our knowledge base of Gigapixel articles.