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Cropping Photos in Lightroom 2

The cropping feature in Lightroom is really different from the Crop tool in Photoshop. It might throw you for a loop at first, but if you try it with an open mind, you might wind up falling in love with it.
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Cropping Photos

When I first used the cropping feature in Lightroom, I thought it was weird and awkward—probably because I was so used to the Crop tool in Photoshop—but once I got used to it, I realized that it’s probably the best cropping feature I’ve ever seen in any program. This might throw you for a loop at first, but if you try it with an open mind, I think you’ll wind up falling in love with it. If you try it and don’t like it, make sure you read on to Step Six for how to crop more like you do in Photoshop (but don’t forget that whole “open mind” thing).

Step One. Here’s the original photo. I knew when I took it, not only would it have to be cropped tighter (to hide the Octabank over his head and the light stand on the bottom right), but it would need some Photoshop work to clone in more black seamless paper in the foreground. To crop the image, go to the Develop module and click on the Crop Overlay button (circled here in red) in the toolbox above the Basic panel, and the Crop & Straighten options will pop down below it. This puts a “rule of thirds” grid overlay on your image (to help with cropping composition), and you’ll see four cropping corner handles. To lock your aspect ratio (so your crop is constrained to your photo’s original proportion as you crop), or unlock it if you want a non-constrained freeform crop, click on the lock icon near the top right of the panel (as shown here).

Step Two. To crop the photo, grab a corner handle and drag inward to resize your Crop Overlay border. Here, I grabbed the top-right corner handle and dragged diagonally inward until the Octabank up top appeared outside the Crop Overlay border.

Step Three. So, grab all four corners (you did download this photo, right? The URL for the downloads is in the book’s introduction), and adjust each corner inward to eliminate as much of the lighting stand and foreground floor as possible for a nice, tight crop (as seen here). If you need to reposition the photo inside the cropping border, just click-and-hold inside the Crop Overlay border and your cursor will change into the “grabber hand” (as seen here).

Step Four. When the crop looks good to you, press the letter R on your keyboard to lock in your crop, remove the Crop Overlay border, and show the final cropped version of the photo (as seen here). But there are two other choices for cropping we haven’t looked at yet.

Step Five. If you know you want a particular size ratio for your image, you can do that from the Ratio pop-up menu in the Crop & Straighten section. Go ahead and click the Reset button, below the right side Panels area, so we return to our original image, then click on the Aspect pop-up menu at the top-right side of the Crop & Straighten section, and a list of preset sizes appears (seen here). Choose 8×10 from the pop-up menu, and you’ll see the left and right sides of the Crop Overlay border move in to show the ratio of what an 8×10″ crop would be. Now you can resize the cropping rectangle and be sure that it will maintain that 8×10 aspect ratio.

Step Six. The other, more Photoshop, way to crop is to click on the Crop Overlay button, then click on the Crop Frame tool (shown circled here in red) to release it from its home near the top left of the Crop & Straighten section. Now you can just click-and-drag out a cropping border in the size and position you’d like it. Don’t let it freak you out that the original cropping border stays in place while you’re dragging out your new crop, as seen here—that’s just the way it works. Once you’ve dragged out your cropping border, it works just like before (grab the corner handles to resize, and reposition it by clicking inside the cropping border and dragging. When you’re done, press R to lock in your changes). So, which way is the right way to crop? The one you’re most comfortable with. Note: You’ll see a finished version of another photo from this shoot, with extra black canvas area added above it in Photoshop, in Chapter 8.

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