Cropping Your Photo

To crop a photo simply means to trim away some of its perimeter. Removing excess background can often improve an image, as illustrated by my original frog scene, shown on the left in Figure 10-6, and its cropped cousin, shown on the right. In the original image, there's just too much going on — the eye has a hard time figuring out what's important. Eliminating all but a little of the surrounding foliage returned emphasis to the subject and created a stronger composition.

Figure 10-6: Cropping creates a better composition, eliminating background clutter.

You may also want to crop an image so that it fits a specific frame size. As Chapter 8 explains, the original images from your Canon fit perfectly in 4-x-6-inch frames, but if you want a 5 x 7, 8 x 10, or other standard print size, you need to crop your image to those new proportions. (If you don't, the photo printer software or retail print lab will crop for you, and the result may not be the composition that you'd choose.)

Whatever your cropping goal, follow these steps to do it in the Canon browser software:

1. In the main browser window, double-click the image thumbnail.

Your photo appears all by its lonesome in a new Viewer window.

2. Choose Trim (Windows) or Trimming Image (Mac) from the Edit dropdown list.

Refer to Figures 10-3 and 10-4, in the preceding section, if you need help finding the list.

After you choose the command, your image appears in the Trim Image retouching window. A dotted outline, called a crop box, appears around your photo, as shown in Figure 10-7. (The figure shows the Windows version of the screen; the Mac version contains the same cropping controls.)

3. Click the Advanced Options button to display all the crop-size controls.

Figure 10-7 labels the button and shows the controls that appear when you click it. (On a Mac, the control panel pops out of the side of the dialog box instead of appearing within it.)

Handle

Click to display advanced options

Handle

Click to display advanced options

Trim button

Figure 10-7: You can specify a crop size via the Advanced Options controls.

Trim button

Figure 10-7: You can specify a crop size via the Advanced Options controls.

4. Choose an option from the Aspect Ratio drop-down list.

Your selection determines the proportions of the cropped image. You can go in three directions:

• Manual: This option enables you to crop the image to any proportions. I chose this setting for my frog photo.

• Maintain Original: If you choose this option, the program restricts you to cropping to the same proportions as your original. In the case of your Digital Rebel XTi/400D, that's 3:2.

• Specific Aspect Ratios: You also can select from six specific aspect ratios: 2:3, 3:2, 3:4, 4:3, 9:16, and 16:9. The first number in the pair indicates the width and the second indicates the height.

5. In Windows, make sure that the Trim button is selected, as shown in Figure 10-7.

It should be already selected unless you used the adjacent controls to zoom or scroll the preview. Just click the button to select it if needed. Mac users can skip this step.

6. Adjust the size and position of the crop box as needed.

Use these techniques:

• Resize the crop box. Drag any of the handles — those little squares around the perimeter of the crop box. I labeled one of the handles in Figure 10-7.

As you drag the handles, the W and H boxes in the Size of Trimming Area portion of the dialog box reflect the new dimensions of the crop box, with the measurement shown in pixels. Keep in mind that pixel count is critical to print quality. Chapters 3 and 9 provide details, but the short story is that you need roughly 200-300 pixels per linear inch of your print. So if you have a finished print size in mind, monitor the W and H values as you adjust the crop box size to make sure that you aren't clipping away too many pixels.

• Set a specific crop size. You also can enter specific pixel dimensions in the W and H boxes. The crop box automatically adjusts to the dimensions you enter.

Using the third option is the easiest way to crop your photo to a size that doesn't mesh with any of the specific aspect ratio choices. Say that you want to produce a 5-x-7-inch print from your cropped photo, and you want an image resolution of 300 pixels per inch. Just multiply the print dimensions by the desired resolution and then enter those values into the W and H boxes. For the 5 x 7 at 300 ppi example, the W and H values are 1500 and 2100, respectively. If the resulting crop boundary encompasses too much or too little of your photo, just keep adjusting the W and H values, making sure to always keep the two at the same proportions you originally entered.

7. Turn on the Use the Rule of Thirds gridlines (optional).

A classic composition rule is to imagine that your image is divided into thirds vertically and horizontally and then position the subject at a spot where two dividing lines intersect.

To help you visualize that concept, the Trim box can display those horizontal and vertical grid lines as shown in Figure 10-8. Just click the Use the Rule of Thirds check box to toggle the grid on and off.

8. When you're happy with the crop box, click the Trim Image button.

The cropped photo appears in the preview. If you aren't happy with the results, click the Undo button and try again.

9. Click OK to close the retouching window.

10. Choose FileOSave As to save your cropped image.

The last section of this chapter has details.

Figure 10-8: The Rule of Thirds gridlines offer a compositional guide

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Reasonable care has been taken to ensure that the information presented in this book is  accurate. However, the reader should understand that the information provided does not constitute legal, medical or professional advice of any kind.

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