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Scream of the Crop: how to resize and crop photos

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Location: The Dolomites, Italy | Exposure: 1/30 sec | Focal Length: 35mm | Aperture Value: ƒ/8

You know what? If I were to go to Google or the iTunes Store (two of my most reliable sources for TV show, song, and movie titles), and type in “crop,” do you know what I’m going to get? That’s right, a bunch of results about corn and wheat. Now, I have to be straight with you—I hate corn. I don’t know what it is about corn that I don’t like (maybe its red color?), but I just never warmed up to it at all. It’s probably because I don’t like the smell of corn, and if you think about it, when it comes to which foods we like and which we don’t like, we generally don’t like any foods that smell bad to us. For example, when was the last time you put a big forkful of food up to your mouth and said, “Wow, this smells horrible!” and you actually ate it? Okay, outside of a fraternity prank, when was the last time? Really? You eat food that stinks? Wow, I never knew that about you. I’m a little surprised frankly, because up to this point, I thought we had kind of a simpatico thing going between us. I write ridiculous stuff, and you don’t return the book for a refund, and you even skip entire chapters just to jump to the next chapter opener. I thought we were buds, but this...this really has me worried. What else haven’t you told me? What? No way! Did you get sick? Oh man, that had to be bad. Did you call the cops? Why not? Oh. Then what? No way! What? What? What? Ewwwww! Look, I’m not sure we can go through any more of these chapter intros together. You’re pretty messed up, and I’m not sure that reading these is good for you. You seem like you’re in kind of a downward spiral. What? No, I am not judging you. Okay, I’m judging you, but no more than anyone else would who knew you did that, which by the way was pretty sick, and yes you should have called the cops, or a lawyer, or a podiatrist, or a taxidermist. So, corn, huh? All that, and you’re totally okay with eating corn, even though it smells bad to you. Well, if it’s any consolation, I don’t eat wheat. I mean, where would you even buy a bushel of wheat? The tack shop? The Purina shop? Subway? Hey, I have a 50% off coupon!

Basic Cropping

After you’ve sorted your images in the Organizer, one of the first editing tasks you’ll probably undertake is cropping a photo. There are a number of different ways to crop a photo in Elements. We’ll start with the basic garden-variety options, and then we’ll look at some ways to make the task faster and easier.

Step One:

Open the image you want to crop in the Elements Editor, and then press the letter C to get the Crop tool (you could always select the tool directly from the Toolbox, but I only recommend doing so if you’re charging by the hour).

Step Two:

Click within your photo and drag out a cropping border. By default, you’ll see a grid appear within your border. This feature lets you crop photos based on some of the popular composition rules that photographers and designers use. We’ll go over this feature more in a moment, so for now click on the None icon in the Grid Overlay section on the right end of the Tool Options Bar. The area to be cropped away will appear dimmed (shaded). You don’t have to worry about getting your cropping border right when you first drag it out, because you can edit it by dragging the control handles that appear in each corner and at the center of each side.

Step Three:

While you have the cropping border in place, you can rotate the entire border. Just move your cursor outside the border, and your cursor will change into a double-headed arrow. Then, click-and-drag, and the cropping border will rotate in the direction that you drag. (This is a great way to save time if you have a crooked image, because it lets you crop and rotate at the same time.)

Step Four:

Once you have the cropping border where you want it, click on the green checkmark icon at the bottom corner of your cropping border, or just press the Enter (Mac: Return) key on your keyboard. To cancel your crop, click the red international symbol for “No Way!” at the bottom corner of the cropping border, or press the Esc key on your keyboard.

Step Five:

Elements includes a feature called Crop Suggestions in both Quick and Expert edit modes. It automatically looks at your photo and gives you a few suggestions for ways to crop it. It’s pretty simple to use: just hover your cursor over the different thumbnails to see the suggestions. If you find one you like, click on it to select it. If you like the size, but not the placement, simply click inside the cropping border and drag it where you want it, as I did here.

Step Six:

Like I mentioned, Elements includes overlay features to help you crop your photos. The one you’ll use the most is called the Rule of Thirds (and is the default overlay). It’s essentially a trick that photographers sometimes use to create more interesting compositions. Basically, you visually divide the image you see in your camera’s viewfinder into thirds, and then you position your horizon so it goes along either the top imaginary horizontal line or the bottom one. Then, you position the subject (or focal point) at the intersections of those lines (as you’ll see in the next step). But if you didn’t use the rule in the viewfinder, no sweat! You can use this overlay feature to achieve it. There is one other option in the Grid Overlay section: Grid, which is useful for straightening horizons.

Step Seven:

So, click on the Rule of Thirds icon and then click within your photo and drag out a cropping border. When you drag the cropping border onto your image, you’ll see the Rule of Thirds overlay appear over your photo. Try to position your image’s horizon along one of the horizontal grid lines, and be sure your focal point (the quarterback, in this case) falls on one of the intersecting points (the top-left intersection, in this example).

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