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Elements has a number of tools that you can use to recompose a photo. Among those are the Straighten tool and the Crop tool, which we'll look at in this movie. The Straighten tool can be used to straighten a photo, either horizontally or vertically. This photo obviously has a crooked horizontal element, the horizon. To straighten that horizon with the options in the options bar at their defaults, I'll come into the image and I'm going to click on the horizon and I'm going to drag out a reference line. It doesn't matter exactly how long this reference line is, I just need enough so that Elements knows what part of the photo I think should be straight horizontally.
And then I'll release my mouse. Elements turns the entire photo in reference to that line. So now the horizon is straight, but as you can see there are some empty pixels represented by this gray and white checkerboard around some of the edges of the photo. You will get that kind of result if you use either this first option, Grow or Shrink, or the last option here Original Size; but the result will be slightly different. If I chose an Original Size, I wouldn't necessarily see the entire photo here in the canvass. Some of it may have ended up off the canvas when the photo was turned.
Notice in the Layers panel that this layer is a regular layer. If this was a special background layer, then instead of seeing the gray and white checkerboard that represents transparent pixels around the straighten photo, I would see solid color pixels of whatever color happened to be in my Background color chip here in the toolbar. Now if I chosen this option instead, Remove Background, Elements would have done two things. It would have turned the image like this, and it would have automatically cropped the way these transparent edges. In the course of that, part of the photo would be cropped away necessarily too.
So if I'm in a hurry I'll choose Remove Background and let Elements do the cropping for me along with the straightening. But I usually like to do the cropping myself so I can get it just the way I want it. For example, in this case, I want to be sure to crop away not only the transparent pixels, but also these dark corners that were caused by vignetting; and I want to crop away this little boat on the far left. So I'll get the Crop tool. In the options for the Crop tool I'll go to the Aspect Ratio menu. Here I can choose one of these preset aspect ratios for the width and height of my crop boundary, including Use Photo Ratio which just uses whatever the ratio of the original photo was, or I can choose No Restriction.
I'll go with No Restriction, and then I'll click-and-drag a bounding box, and release my mouse. Now I can click on any of these anchor points and tweak the edges of the bounding box so that I have just what I want in the photo; and then if I need to, I can click inside the bounding box and drag to move it up or down or to the left or right to get it just in the right position. When I'm happy with the result I'll click the checkmark, and Elements crops away or eliminates everything outside that bounding box.
One more thing about the Crop tool. I am going to click-and-drag with it again so you can see that by default it has this overlay inside the bounding box. This is the rule of thirds overlay, which is a traditional guide for composition. The idea here is that if you position the intersections of the horizontal and vertical lines on top of some important elements in the photo, the composition can sometimes look more proportional or balanced. There are a couple of other overlays here that you can experiment with. If you don't like the overlays at all, you can click this fourth option to eliminate the overlays inside the crop bounding box.
I am going to click the cancel symbol here, because I have already finished my crop, and so that's how you can use the Straighten tool and the Crop tool to recompose a photo, to straighten it, to improve the composition, and to eliminate unwanted content at the edges of the photo.
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