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Adobe Photoshop CS5 : Cropping and Straightening

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12/30/2012 4:02:48 PM
There’s a distinct advantage to cropping your photo here in Camera Raw, rather than in Photoshop CS5 itself, and that is you can return to Camera Raw later and bring back the uncropped version of the image. This even holds true for JPEG and TIFF photos, as long as you haven’t overwritten the original JPEG or TIFF file. To avoid overwriting, when you save the JPEG or TIFF in Photoshop, just change the filename (that way the original stays intact). With RAW images, you don’t have to worry about that, because it doesn’t let you overwrite the original.

Step One.
The Crop tool (C) is the sixth tool from the left in the toolbar. By default, it pretty much works like Photoshop’s Crop tool (you click-and-drag it out around the area you want to keep), but it does offer some features that Photoshop doesn’t—like access to a list of preset cropping ratios. To get them, click-and-hold on the Crop tool and a pop-up menu will appear (as shown here). The Normal setting gives you the standard drag-it-where-you-want-it cropping. However, if you choose one of the cropping presets, then your cropping is constrained to a specific ratio. For example, choose the 2 to 3 ratio, click-and-drag it out, and you’ll see that it keeps the same aspect ratio as your original uncropped photo

Step Two.
Here’s the 2-to-3-ratio cropping border dragged out over my image. The area to be cropped away appears dimmed, and the clear area inside the border is how your final cropped photo will appear. If you want to see the cropped version before you leave Camera Raw, just switch to another tool in the toolbar. (Note: If you draw a set size cropping border and want to switch orientation, click on the bottom-right corner and drag down and to the left to switch from wide to tall, or up and to the right to switch from tall to wide.)

Step Three.
If you reopen your cropped photo again in Camera Raw, you’ll see the cropped version. To bring back the cropping border, just click on the Crop tool. To remove the cropping altogether, press the Esc or Delete (PC: Backspace) key on your keyboard (or choose Clear Crop from the Crop tool’s pop-up menu). If you want your photo cropped to an exact size (like 8×10″, 13×19″, etc.), choose Custom from the Crop tool’s pop-up menu to bring up the dialog you see here. You can choose to crop by inches, pixels, or centimeters.

Step Four.
Here, we’re going to create a custom crop so our photo winds up being exactly 8×10″, so choose Inches from the Crop pop-up menu, then type in your custom size. Click OK, click-and-drag out the cropping border, and the area inside it will be exactly 8×10″. Click on any other tool in the toolbar or press Return (PC: Enter), and you’ll see the final cropped 8×10″ image (as seen here). If you click the Open Image button, the image is cropped to your specs and opened in Photoshop. If, instead, you click the Done button, Camera Raw closes and your photo is untouched, but it keeps your cropping border in place for the future.

Tip: Seeing Image Size

The size of your photo (and other information) is displayed under the preview area of Camera Raw (in blue underlined text that looks like a Web link). When you drag out a cropping border, the size info for the photo automatically updates to display the dimensions of the currently selected crop area.

Step Five.
If you save a cropped JPEG or TIFF photo out of Camera Raw (by clicking the Done button), the only way to bring back those cropped areas is to reopen the photo in Camera Raw. However, if you click the Save Image button and you choose Photoshop from the Format popup menu (as shown), a new option will appear called Preserve Cropped Pixels. If you turn on that checkbox before you click Save, when you open this cropped photo in Photoshop, it will appear to be cropped, but the photo will be on a separate layer (not flattened on the Background layer). So the cropped area is still there—it just extends off the visible image area. You can bring that cropped area back by clicking-and-dragging your photo within the image area (try it—use the Move tool [V] to click-and-drag your photo to the right or left and you’ll see what I mean).


Step Six.
If you have a number of similar photos you need to crop the same way, you’re going to love this: First, select all the photos you want to crop in Camera Raw (either in Mini Bridge or on your computer), then open them all in Camera Raw. When you open multiple photos, they appear in a vertical filmstrip along the left side of Camera Raw (as shown here). Click on the Select All button (it’s above the filmstrip) and then crop the currently selected photo as you’d like. As you apply your cropping, look at the filmstrip and you’ll see all the thumbnails update with their new cropping instructions. A tiny Crop icon will also appear in the bottom-left corner of each thumbnail, letting you know that these photos have been cropped in Camera Raw.


Step Seven.
Another form of cropping is actually straightening your photos using the Straighten tool. It’s a close cousin of the Crop tool because what it does is essentially rotates your cropping border, so when you open the photo, it’s straight. In the Camera Raw toolbar, choose the Straighten tool (it’s immediately to the right of the Crop tool, and shown circled here in red). Now, click-and-drag it along the horizon line in your photo (as shown here). When you release the mouse button, a cropping border appears and that border is automatically rotated to the exact amount needed to straighten the photo (as shown in Step Eight).

Step Eight.
You won’t actually see the straightened photo until you switch tools, press Return (PC: Enter), or open the photo in Photoshop (which means, if you click Save Image or Done, Camera Raw closes, and the straightening information is saved along with the file. So if you open this file again in Camera Raw, you’ll see the straightened version, and you won’t really know it was ever crooked). If you click Open Image instead, the straightened photo opens in Photoshop. Again, if this is a RAW photo (or if it’s a JPEG or TIFF and you clicked the Done button), you can always return to Camera Raw and remove this cropping border to get the original uncropped photo back.

Tip: Canceling Your Straightening

If you want to cancel your straightening, just press the Esc key on your keyboard, and the straightening border will go away.

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