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When theres a strong horizontal or vertical element to an image, such as a building, a flagpole, or a horizon line. It can be very important to make sure that that object is properly alligned. That it's perfectly vertical or perfectly horizontal. In addition, you may find that in many cases, you want to simply crop an image, to remove a portion of the image, perhaps, to change the aspect ratio, or to sort of recompose after the fact, tightening up the frame just a little bit. We can perform both of these tasks all at once using the Crop Overlay.
In effect, this is a Crop tool, but it's actually more of a Crop View, because at any time, we can go back and modify the crop. It is completely non-destructive as with other adjustments in Lightroom. I'll go ahead and click on the Crop Overlay button on the toolbar, at the top of the right panel in the Develop Module. You could also press the letter R on the keyboard to access this view. The process of applying a basic crop and rotation is relatively straightforward. We can work directly with the Crop Controls on the image, we can click and drag one of the edges or corners for example in order to adjust the crop. And we can move outside of the image and click and drag in order to rotate the image, so that we're able to straighten out a horizon, for example. Notice that as I rotate, the crop box always stays inside the image. So I don't need to worry about having a blank background in one corner of the image, for example, if I had extended the crop box outside the image itself. You'll notice that as I'm rotating, there's a Grid view which can help us align a horizon or a vertical object, for example, and then, we can also fine-tune the overall position or shape of the cropping.
In addition, we can use a somewhat automated tool for adjusting the angle of rotation. I'll go ahead and make the image a little bit crooked, and then I'll click on the Straighten tool which allows me to adjust the angle somewhat automatically. Now, I could just move slider for angle to rotate the image around, but I can also, using the Straighten tool, click and then drag across a line that should be straight. Once I have that line perfectly aligned with, in this case, the roof line of the building, I can release the mouse and the image will be rotated so that line that we defined will be perfectly horizontal or vertical, as the case may be. We can also constrain the aspect ratioo of the crop to particular dimensions if we like.
The Aspect pop-up allows us to choose particular aspect ratio that we'd like to use. For example, if we want to crop to an 8 and a half by 11 sheet of paper for a letter-sized print, I can certainly do that. I can also crop to a square if I choose the 1 to 1 option for example. You'll see that my crop is now a perfect square. And no matter which direction I drag this crop box, I cannot change it away from a square. I can of course change that aspect ratio to something else. Perhaps, I want to constraint the aspect ratio to the original value or I can unlock the aspect ratio and simply click and drag at will to adjust the crop as I see fit. We can also use the Crop Frame tool.
I can simply click on it to the left of the Aspect pop-up, and then click and drag within the image in order to define which portion of the image I want to view. That will set the crop automatically to constrain to that portion of the image. So you can see the crop and straightened features here are relatively straightforward, and yet, they give you a lot of flexibility both in how you work and the effect you apply to the image in terms of rotation and cropping. One last control that I want to be sure you're aware of is the constrain to Warp checkbox.
If you turn this option On or Off, you will likely not see any change in the image, but that's because I have not warped the image at all. If I scroll down on the right panel to the Lens Correction section, then we can see some of the effect here. I'm just going to apply a Distortion and I'm going to Pinch the edges of the image inward, and then I will adjust my crop. I'll scroll back up to the Crop controls, and now notice, that my Crop box goes outside the actual image. Well, not exactly outside the image, because I've warped the image, so that the crop box goes out to the corner of the image. But it's including some of that blank background area that was caused by the distortion that I applied.
If I turn on the Constrain to Warp checkbox, I will not be able to move the crop box outside that new definition of the edge of the image. I consider that to be a rather important feature. I would almost always keep the Constrain to Warp checkbox turned on. But of course, it only is applicable if you've applied a Lens Correction to the image. I'll go ahead and scroll down, so that I can disable that Lens Correction effct. Just reset the Distortion back down to 0 and I'll come back to my Crop settings.
I'll go ahead and double check my angle of the rotation here and then fine-tune the Crop box itself. In this case, just freely adjusting the crop not worrying about the aspect ratio. And that looks to be pretty good. Generally speaking, I typically include as much of the image as possible in that crop. But at times, you might want to remove portions. For example, I'm going to tighten up the cropping at the bottom and at the top of the image, here. Once you're finished fine-tuning the rotation and crop, you can simply click the Done button in order to go back to a full view of the image. So, showing the image after that cropping and straightening has been applied. But if you decide later and you need to fine-tune anything, you can simply go back to that Crop Overlay view, and everything will be as you left it, you can continue to fine-tune as you'd like.
And of course, at any time, if you want to remove the crop altogether, you could click the Reset button. But in this case, I'm happy with that crop and rotation so I'll click the Close button in order to close the Crop Overlay. And then I can continue working on other adjustments for this photo.
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