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Perfect Composition with Cropping

Jul 11, 2008
Composition is key in the making of a great photo. While many elements go into a photograph, composition can either invite the viewer into the image or keep the image one dimensional and without feeling. How all of the elements in a picture interact with each other through their placement develops the story and message the photograph is wanting to relate to the viewer.

Good composition is really what sets apart really good photographers from mediocre ones. Now while there are many aspects of good composition, framing or cropping of an image is an important part.

Photoshop makes it easy to improve the composition of a photograph if you become familiar with the cropping tool. You can quickly and easily cut out parts of the photo that you don't want or that distract from the main subject. Photoshop makes cropping as precise as you need it to be by allowing you to measure areas to be cut.

The best part about cropping using Photoshop's cropping tool is that if you don't like how your photo looks after it has been cropped you can simply go back to where you started and try again. You can essentially experiment with an unlimited number of possibilities.

Here are some tips for better cropping.

Keep in Mind the Rule of Thirds

One example of the differences between the professional and the novice photographer is in the placement of the subject within the image. The professional seldom centers the subject in the picture, while the amateur almost always does. Place the subject off center for a much more professional and eye-catching result. Imagine lines dividing your image into thirds and crop your picture accordingly so that the subject lies in one of the outer thirds. Make a copy of the original photograph in a separate folder for reference, and then try out cropping your subject using the rule of thirds.

Crop to Traditional Print Sizes

Standard photo sizes such as 4x6 are easier to frame, so make sure to check the sizing when cropping a photo. Should your image not conform to standard dimensions, simply cut off or add back a little of your photo to meet these sizes. Without this, a photo lab may crop off more than you would want or in the wrong area of the photo to make them print the right size.

Photoshop makes it so easy to crop your photos that you really won't have to worry about the framing when you take the picture on your camera because you can just fix it later on your computer. Regardless of whether you use Photoshop Elements or the more advanced version, Photoshop CS, the technical aspects of using the cropping tool are essentially the same.
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