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Cropping in Lightroom

When I purchased my first copy of Lightroom, one of the first things that I noticed is that the crop tool worked WAY different than I was used to it working in Photoshop. I wouldn't say I hated it, but I will say that it took some getting used to. I hope that these tips will help you quickly make friends with cropping in Lightroom.

The Tool.

The crop tool is located over by all the other tools in the Develop Module--just above the Basic Panel. It is the rectangle with the grid inside.  Once you click on it a cropping grid and handles will appear on your photo.  Clicking the cropping tool again will make them disappear.  You can also type "R" on your keyboard to activate or deactivate the crop tool!

How it Works.

The crop tool works by having you adjust the crop by using the cropping handles on each corner or side of the crop frame.  You also adjust your crop by clicking and dragging within the crop frame to position the photo.  Move the photo around under the cropping frame to select what should be in the frame or not.  By clicking OUTSIDE of the cropping frame and cropping handles the tool will change to a "curved arrow" that will allow you to rotate the crop to straighten photos or provide a different perspective.

To commit the crop simply hit the "enter" key or the "R" key.  No pixels are lost when cropping in Lightroom so the crop can be redone as many times as you want.  When you export the photo to a JPEG, the changes—including the crop—will be applied to the new JPEG that is created.

Cropping Options.

Once you click on the cropping tool, a box of options will appear. Here are the things you need to know about this box.

1.     The Crop Tool (the two square rules intersected): clicking on this tool will allow you to drag a crop box (similar to the way that Photoshop has typically done) if that is what you are more comfortable doing.

2.    Aspect Ratio: Clicking the double arrows next to the words “original” will allow you to select the aspect ratio that you'd like to crop at.  There are a lot of preset aspect ratios to choose from, but if you select “Enter custom” from the drop-down menu, you can enter any custom dimensions you'd like.  Remember: No pixels are lost when cropping and you can change your mind as many times as you like!

3.    Lock:  When the lock looks closed, the aspect ratio is locked and you can drag without any fear of losing the aspect ratio you have chosen.  Clicking the lock will open it.  When it is open, your aspect ratio is no longer locked and you can drag any crop you'd like.

4.    Angle (the ruler inside a circle): This is a really cool tool that will help you straighten any crooked horizon or line (flag pole, building, etc.)  Just click once on the tool to select it, and click and drag a straight line over your crooked horizon.  Lightroom will automatically crop/rotate the photo so that the horizon (or whatever line you drag) is straight.

5.    Angle Slider: The slider next to the angle tool will allow you to rotate the photo using the slider if you prefer.  You can also use the crop handles on the photo.  By positioning your cursor outside the crop handles you'll get a curved arrow that will allow you to rotate the photo directly on the photo.

6.    Constrain to Warp: This is a little used tool that you'll only need if you apply a lens correction.  This will help make sure that only image data is showing and not the white space created by applying the corrections.

Enjoy making friends with Lightroom’s crop tool!

Hi!! I am Gayle. I am a wife to my handsome husband and mom to 4 beautiful kids. In my spare time, I am a photographer and blogger at Mom and Camera. I have a passion for sharing my love of photography with others. I teach local photography classes and regularly share photography tips and tricks on my blog. I hang out there a lot—I’d love you to stop by and visit!

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