When to Crop

With our first competition first approaching, and your PDI’s should have been submitted by now, I wondered when members cropped their images.

I’m not talking about how to crop, but WHEN.

Is it when you open the image?  Is it just before you save the image?

I think it depends on the editing program that you are using.

I mainly use Lightroom, so when I start to develop I start by starightening (if it needs it) and then I might crop. I can then carry out GLOBAL adjustments, and if I don’t lik the crop I can then go back to the crop tool, and make adjustments to the crop.

The disadvantage of cropping at the start is if I then use the adjustment brush, I would only see the cropped area, and treat that.

What does this mean? It means that if I want to expand the crop area to get more of image in the picture, I need to apply the adjustment brush to the areas that had been outside the crop.

Of course, I can always adjust the crop before I use the adjustment brush, and then adust it back after the crop.

With Photoshop, the matter is slightly different, if you crop when you open your image, the area outside the crop is lost. So you may find that you are copping just before you save, but the problem with this is when you open the image next time and you feel the need to re-adjust the crop you have to start from scratch.

There are two solutions to the this.

Open the image as a smart object, and wait to crop in Photoshop and not Camera Raw, this allows you to go back to the original layer and edit the contents, When you crop the canvas stays the same size – leaving a transparent area around the image. This can be done time and again.

The other way is to create a layer on top of all your work, use the selection tool to select the crop area, inverse it and then fill the outside with the colour of choice, black or white. This creates a mask.

Norfolk Island, Ulswater, Cumbria

Masking the image to see what it looks like cropped.

There are probably more ways, and you may have worked out a way that works for you, but if you are just beginning then this is something you may wish to consider.


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