Some of us are new to getting our photos printed. I'm not expert, but I'm pleased with my results and this is how I do it:
Everything is the same as normal editing, except for three things:
1) You'll crop is differently
2) You'll need to zoom in and out a lot to gauge the results of your actions.
3) You'll be sharpening differently.
Usually the first step in editing the leveling your photo. Do that as you normally would. Then move on to cropping.
As for cropping, choose whatever photo size you want to print at (8x10, 5x7, 4x6, etc).
Most print shops require that you provide a "1/8 inch bleed" to your edits. This means just cropping it SLIGHTLY wider and taller than you would have, about 1/8 of an inch.
It is also important that you set the crop's resolution to 300 dpi. This helps maintain good quality.
From there, edit the photo as you would normally. Levels, brightness/contrast, color balance, saturation or whatever else you apply. But zoom in and out to make sure that your photo looks healthy at both 10% (get to 100% easier by pressing Ctrl + Alt + 0 (zero)).
One other tip for editing these aspects of your photos....open up a regular edit of your shot that you might have on Airliners.net or JetPhotos.net. Compare the colors and contrast and such to make sure that you get it accurate to what it is supposed to be.
Now for sharpening.
What I usually do for print sharpening is zoom to 100% and apply Unsharp Mask at the following settings:
The photo is a lot bigger, so although this may seem drastic for your normal editing, it's fine here.
Then you should apply a second pass of Unsharp Mask. Open Unsharp Mask again. If you are making a 4x6 or 5x7, apply a radius of .2. If it's an 8x10, use a radius of .3 for this second pass.
From here, start at .500, which might be too much, and work your way down, finding a sweet spot for you.
It is nearly impossibly to avoid any indication of grain, but you want to avoid the speckle. Here is an example of grain that you can expect to see.
The edit shown here is for an 8x10. Keep in mind that the size of this file on your screen is considerably larger than what the print size will be, so the print itself might not show all of the grain that you see on screen.
So for this print, this much sharpening is a little too much. Though you should expect some grain, once you start to see the green speckle, you've certainly sharpened too much. The second pass here would probably be a lot better at a lower amount, or maybe even at a rdius of .2. However, if you saw this much grain for a 5x7 or 4x6, the results on the print would probably be absolutely disgusting. Don't allow for as much on the smaller prints.
Here is the same photo prepped for a 4x6 file. You can see some grain, but that just disappears when you print the photo:
So remember that you WILL have some grain, and that it's not necessarily a bad thing. If you try to avoid grain altogether, you very well might end up with a soft photo.
That is pretty much it.
Then save your file as a jpeg at the max quality and you're set. You should add the print's size at the end of the filename, like "ATA_738_N301TZ_LGA13Dep1_031881_8x10".
Try editing a couple for various sizes, and upload it and LINK to it here (don't use the <img> codes, it'll be way too big). I'll let you know what I think.
Let me know if I left anything out. If I didn't, I'm going to post this in the Photographer forum for other guys, too just to have. I know Art has a different style and I'm sure he'll want to voice his thoughts as well.
Hope this helps.