We have another Photo Premium tutorial exclusively available to Premium members today. In this tutorial, we’ll be learning about Lightroom’s toning and cropping capabilities, duties once reserved only for Photoshop. Learn more at the jump!
Lightroom is an application loved by photographers of all levels because it streamlines and improves workflow from start to finish. Whether you are a professional photographer with a busy calendar or a hobby photographer looking to manage photos of your family and friends, it can help you to improve your work and accomplish tasks easily and quickly. In today’s tutorial, we’re going to take a look at Lightroom’s cropping and toning features and find out how to use them to their fullest.
For the purpose of this tutorial, we’ll assume that you already have Lightroom. You will of course also need some images imported into your catalog. If this is your first time working with Lightroom, you will need to import images to work with. You can do this either by going to File-> Import, or pressing the Import button on the left panel while in the Library Module.
For all of these examples, I’m going to use a Senior Portrait session that I shot over the summer. These tools are all parts of Lightroom that I use on a daily basis, and I’ll show you how they help me in my workflow.
In my opinion, one of the best functions of Lightroom is the crop tool. No application makes it easier to get the crop right for my photos and preview them as I do so.
One important note is how Lightroom differs from Photoshop or other pixel level editing tools. In those applications, cropping the images revolves around trimming the image to a pixel size. Lightroom, in contrast, focuses on cropping to a certain aspect ratio. In short, an aspect ratio is the “shape” of an image, and describes how wide it is versus how tall it is. A 1:1 aspect ratio means that an image is 1 unit wide for every 1 unit tall, resulting in a square shape.
A square is not a common shape for a photo, although it can be a great way to experiment and try new photo cropping ideas. The images coming from most digital SLR’s is 1.5:1 or 3:2. This is an image one and a half times wide as it is tall (given that it hasn’t been rotated to portrait orientation, of course).
Let’s start exploring Lightroom’s crop tool. My first suggestion would be to select the photo you would like to crop on the filmstrip and create a virtual copy of it. This is accomplished by right clicking the thumbnail for it on the filmstrip and selecting “create a virtual copy”. By doing this, you preserve the original crop, and can now create an alternate crop. If you’re sure that you don’t need the original crop of the image, don’t worry about creating this virtual copy.
Creating a virtual copy by right clicking the image preserves the original edit while creating a copy that can be edited independently.
Next, go ahead and switch to the Develop module of Lightroom by clicking Develop in the upper right corner, or pressing “D” to enter the develop module. To use the crop tool, click on the overlay icon on the right side, or press “R” on your keyboard.
The crop button can be found on the right side while in the develop module.
With this tool open, we can both crop and straighten our images. After entering crop mode, you will see the tool’s overlay appear on your image.
After opening the Lightroom crop tool on an image, an overlay will appear with handles at the edges. We can drag these handles in order to crop the image.
The crop grid has several handy features that can help us improve our images in the cropping process. The grid is a huge tool that allows us to align points of interest and apply better crops. The photography “rule of thirds” tells us that interesting points in the photo should be applied to the intersection of the lines. We can also press “O” on the keyboard to cycle through some alternate crop lines Lightroom offers, each of which illustrates different cropping principles which you might be interested in researching.
Tune In for More
Didn’t hear about Photo Premium? You can find out more here. It’s an additional, in-depth article, published each week just for our Premium subscribers (on top of all our regular free content!)
Join Premium and Expand Your Photography Knowledge!
This is a really interesting technique to perfect, and you’ll be really pleased with the result! This Premium tutorial will help you get started with ease.
For those unfamiliar, the family of Tuts+ sites runs a premium membership service. For $19 per month, you gain access to exclusive premium tutorials, screencasts, and freebies from Phototuts+, Nettuts+, Psdtuts+, Cgtuts+,Activetuts+, Aetuts+, Audiotuts+, and Vectortuts+! For the price of a pizza, you’ll learn from some of the best minds in the business.
What Do You Want to See on Premium?
Is there a specific technical aspect of photography that you really want to learn more about? How about a very advanced technique that you could never quite grasp fully?
We really want to make our Premium content as relevant and useful to you as possible, so do send through your comments and requests to email@example.com. Let us know what you want to see, and we’ll commission top-notch photographers to teach you!