Thoughts & Ideas

Don’t Forget About Crop Aspect Ratios

When cropping an image, it is very simple to get locked in to cropping using the original aspect ratio. But sometimes it can be worth it to experiment with other aspect ratios, including square and panoramic.

There’s an easy way to set up some your favorite crops in Lightroom so that you can use them frequently. Just do these steps:

  • Enter “Develop” mode
  • Go to “Crop” mode
  • Next to “Aspect” should be the current image’s aspect ratio, followed by a little drop-down arrow. Click it.
  • There are several pre-defined ratios, but they may not meet your needs. If a predefined ratio works, select it, but if you need to create a custom one, do this:
    • Click “Enter Custom…”
    • Enter your new crop (in inches; if it is too big, Lightroom will scale it back to fit the current image.)
    • Click “OK”
  • Your new aspect ratio should be selected, and you can crop your image as desired.

My favorite aspect ratios at the moment are square and widescreen (16:10 or 16:9 ratio) crops. The latter two make it easier to crop images for optimum display on newer widescreen monitors (rather than printing), but square crops intrigue me for some reason.

So next time you’re cropping an image and are finding it difficult to find a composition you like with the selected crop, pick another aspect ratio and see how that goes. I have several images that work best in a square crop instead of their original aspect. Just another way to help you get inspired!

Word of Caution: Unless you’ve a camera with lots and lots and lots of megapixels (and I mean lots), don’t get too carried away with cropping a large amount of your image, especially if you intend to print the image. A 600x400 image might work on the screen, but it won’t print a 12x8 print very well.

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