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Cropping a photo hides part of the edges from view. You might want to do that to remove unwanted content from the edges of a photo. Or maybe you need to fit a photo into a particular aspect ratio for output. Or maybe you think that cropping the photo will improve its composition. Whatever your reason, when you're ready to crop in Lightroom in the Develop module, go to the Tool Strip above the Basic panel and click the Crop Overlay tool. If you're in another module at the time, you can just press R on your keyboard and that will take you right into Crop Overlay mode.
That opens the Crop and Straighten panel and it puts this boundary around your image. This is the Crop Bounding Box. To resize that Bounding Box, I'll move my mouse over any of its edges or corners and drag in. Then to position the photo so that the part I want is inside the Bounding Box, I'll click inside of it and I'll drag. And the photo moves inside the Bounding Box which stays static. You may have noticed that you couldn't change the height and width of the Bounding Box. That is true when, in the Crop and Straighten panel, this lock icon is closed.
If you want to adjust the height and width of the Crop Bounding Box independently, then click this icon to open the lock and then come in to the image and you'll be able to change the crop into any shape you want. Sometimes, you need a specific common aspect ratio. So, in that case go to this menu and you may find it in this list. One x One will give you a square. If you we're trying to print a photo at 16x20 inches, for example then you would choose this aspect ratio because 16x20 is the same proportion as 8x10 and 4x5. And there are lots of other options here too including some aspect ratios that are common for video.
When you've got your Crop Boundary and your photo just where you want it, then to perform the crop, you can either click Done at the bottom of the screen or you can come over here in the Crop and Straighten panel and click Close or you can just press Enter or Return on your keyboard and the image is cropped. Now this is not permanent. Just like everything that you do to a photo in Lightroom, cropping is non-destructive of the original image. So, at this point I might print my square image or output it in some other manner and then if I needed a different copy of this photo at a different aspect ratio, I would come back into Crop Overlay Mode.
I could change the Bounding Box however I wanted it to be, and perform another crop. If I want to get back and see the entire image again, I'll go back to Crop Overlay mode and I'm going to click Reset and the Bounding Box expands to encompass the entire original image. You may have noticed that there is a grid of two horizontal and two vertical lines inside the image. That's one of the crop overlays and that's offered in order to help you perfect the composition as you crop it. There are number of different crop overlays if you press the O key on your keyboard that will cycle through them.
Now let's talk about straightening an image. There is a Straighten tool here in the Crop and Straighten panel that you can use for that purpose. I'm going to click on it, and that picks it up out of its location in this panel and then when I move into the image it goes with my cursor. I'll move to the part of the image that I would like to have straight, in this case the horizon. I'll click on the horizon and I'll drag along it and then I'll release my mouse and Lightroom automatically rotates the image inside of this Crop Bounding Box so that the horizon is straight.
I can still make the image smaller by clicking on a Corner Anchor point and dragging. And the horizon will still be straight inside of this bounding box. But I can't make the Bounding box larger than the actual photo. When I'm ready to straighten the image, I'll either press this Done button at the bottom of the screen, I'll click the Close button in the Crop and Straighten panel, or I'll press Return or Enter on my keyboard. And the horizon is now straight and the image has been slightly cropped. Let me show you one more thing that I find useful when I'm cropping.
I'm going to click on the Crop Overlay button again and I'll drag the Crop Bounding Box to where I want it. Lightroom dims the area around the crop Bounding Box but it's still a little bit hard to judge how the image is going to look after the crop. So here is a trick for you. Press the L key on your keyboard and that will take you into the Lights Dim Mode. If you do it one more time, you'll go into Lights Out Mode and now you can get a better sense of how the image will look cropped without all of the interface around it. Again, I'll press L to take me back into Crop Overlay Mode and I'll perform the crop by pressing Return or Enter on my keyboard.
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