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Cropping and straightening

From: Photoshop Artist in Action: Tim Grey's Photo Optimization Techniques

Video: Cropping and straightening

As I take a closer look at this image, I'm happy with the overall effect. But I think it needs to be rotated just a little bit, and I also think I'd like to crop most of the bottom. I like the water effect, but I feel that the image just sort of fades off down here toward the bottom edge of the image. And so I'd like to crop the image to get rid of that portion, and I can do both of those tasks, straightening and cropping, with the crop tool. So I'll get started by choosing the crop tool from the crop box. And before I even try to define the crop, I'm going to straighten it.

Cropping and straightening

As I take a closer look at this image, I'm happy with the overall effect. But I think it needs to be rotated just a little bit, and I also think I'd like to crop most of the bottom. I like the water effect, but I feel that the image just sort of fades off down here toward the bottom edge of the image. And so I'd like to crop the image to get rid of that portion, and I can do both of those tasks, straightening and cropping, with the crop tool. So I'll get started by choosing the crop tool from the crop box. And before I even try to define the crop, I'm going to straighten it.

Now I need to choose which element in the image should be perfectly horizontal or vertical. Because I captured the image with a wide angle lens, there's a certain amount of distortion and that actually doesn't bother me in this case. So I won't worry about the left tower of the Brooklyn Bridge here or the buildings over on the far right. Instead, I'm going to focus on what's essentially the horizon in this image. It's not necessarily a true horizon, but because it's such a strong line, I think it's important that it appear relatively straight. So I'll choose the Straighten tool from the Options bar for the Crop tool.

And then I will click and drag along that horizon line in order to specify that that is the line that I want to be perfectly horizontal. You'll see that it's just a minor amount of rotation being applied to the image but it does improve the overall appearance. It makes it appear a bit more balanced I think. You'll notice that the crop by default comes inside the image. So when the image rotated the corners of the crop came in so that none of the crop box falls outside the image. So I don't need to necessarily move the crop box inward in order to preserve the full image, but I do want to bring the bottom edge of the crop box upward just a bit.

And I think right about there will work pretty nicely. It takes away the area of that water that I think is just not all that interesting and helps tighten up the overall composition. I also like to create a wider aspect ratio since we do after all have a grid spanning across the scene. Next, I'll make sure that the delete cropped pixels check box is turned off. Because as much as I want to crop the image, I don't want to end up in a situation where I want to undo or modify that crop and I've lost all of those pixels outside the cropped area.

With the delete cropped pixels check box turned off, at any time if I want to bring back the cropped pixels, I can simply choose image, reveal all from the menu. So with those settings established, I'll go ahead and click the Apply button on the Options bar. I could also double click inside the Crop Box or press Enter or Return on the keyboard in order to apply that crop, but now I have an image that I think is working a bit better relative to the original version. It didn't take much cropping or rotation, but I think it's had a good impact on the photo.

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