Join Jan Kabili for an in-depth discussion in this video Cropping the composition, part of Enhancing an Urban Landscape Photo with Lightroom and Photoshop.
When you're shooting in an urban setting, you may end up with a composition that isn't perfect. That's okay, because the Crop tool in Lightroom is a powerful way to adjust your composition in post processing. In this case, I'd like to use the Crop tool to crop away some of this building on the right, which appears to be leaning outwards. And to crop away some of the sky, because it really isn't adding anything to the content. And I think that removing some of the sky is going to focus attention on the center of this image, the skyscraper.
I also want to remove a bit at the bottom of the image where there isn't really anything interesting happening. So I'm going to select the Crop tool which is in the Tools strip here under the histogram. The shortcut for selecting the crop tool is to press R on the keyboard. Selecting the Crop tool drops down the Crop and Straighten panel. And it sets an initial bounding box for the crop. If I want to retain the initial aspect ratio of the photo, I'll leave this lock as it is. But in this case I want to move the individual edges of the crop boundary.
So I'm going to click the lock. And you can see that it's unlocked and now I can click and drag any of these edges independently of the others, like this. So I'm going to take this bright edge and I'm going to move it in, because there really isn't anything over there on the right, and I want to make things a little more symmetrical around the center skyscraper. As I said, there's nothing that interesting happening at the bottom, so I'm going to move the bottom boundary up, and I'm going to try to line up this corner with this diagonal of the sidewalk.
That will help to draw the eye back toward the skyscraper. And finally, I'll go up to the top, and I'm going to remove a lot of that sky, because it really isn't adding anything to this image. Now, it can be hard to see what the image is going to look like cropped like this. You don't have to worry. You can crop, and then redo your crop as many times as you want. Because the Crop tool, like everything in the Develop module in Lightroom, is nondestructive. But another trick that I like to use is to turn the lights out to see what the image will look like cropped like this. I'll press the L key on my keyboard, the lights dim, and L again turns the lights out, and even with the lights out, as long as I have the Crop tool selected, I can still tweak the way I'm cropping the image, pulling any of the borders to the left or right.
I'll press the L key again and that takes me back to the normal view and when I'm ready to commit the crop I'll press the Enter or Return key on my keyboard.
In this course, Jan Kabili details a collection of straightforward techniques for making urban landscapes look their best. Jan begins in Lightroom: optimizing exposure, fixing distortion problems, and making selective tonality adjustments. She also reduces noise, sharpens the photo, and shares her favorite techniques for painting with light. The course concludes with a dip into Photoshop, where Jan makes some final refinements before returning to Lightroom for output.
- Optimizing tone and color
- Sharpening and reducing noise
- Fixing perspective
- Painting with light
- Finishing the photo