Crop Tool Tips Lightroom

Today I thought I’d share a few tips on how to use the Crop Tool in Lightroom. The Crop Tool is a powerful tool when used to crop and straighten an image while maintaining a specific aspect ratio. But have you tried using the Crop Guide Overlay?

In an earlier post I wrote about how I use the Golden Triangle as a compositional guide when setting up a flat lay.

When setting up a flat lay, I strive to hit the “sweet spots” in camera and use the Crop Tool to fine-tune my image. Often as I crop in Lightroom and analyze my image, I have to go back to my setup and rearrange a few elements to line everything up properly. Then I take another shot.

You might want to check my previous post The Golden Triangle in Photography to learn why I use this guide.

Please note: these instructions are for a Mac.

How to Use the Crop Tool Overlay

Open the Crop Tool Panel

  • In Lightroom, with your desired image open, go to the Develop Module
  • In the Menu Bar, click on the Crop Tool or Press R (the keyboard shortcut) to open the Crop Tool panel
  • Choose your desired Aspect Ratio (I usually choose 4×5)

Crop Tool Overlay Settings

  • In the Menu Bar, choose Tools > Crop > Tool Overlay
  • Choose > Always Show

Crop Guide Overlay

  • In the Menu Bar, choose Tools > Crop Guide Overlay
  • From the drop-down menu, choose an overlay from the list: Grid, Thirds, Diagonal, Center, Triangle, Golden Ratio, Golden Spiral, Aspect Ratios

Cropping an Image

  • After (strategically) placing your main elements on your background, take a quick shot and load it into Lightroom.
  • Click on your image and your chosen guide will pop up. You can move it around to try to hit the “sweet spots”.
  • In this image, the “sweet spots” are the large salad bowls.
  • At this point you can toggle through the overlays by pressing the letter “o” on your keyboard (try it and see—it’s fun!).
  • If the bowls aren’t positioned properly, this is when I go back to my flat lay and make adjustments.
  • When I’m satisfied with my composition, I start placing my supporting elements (ie salad, fruit, etc.), finish shooting and then crop my final image.

Remember, when using the Golden Triangle (or any other guide) as a compositional tool, it all starts with setting up the flat lay in the first place and to capture it “in camera”. The guides are simply to help you fine-tune and crop an image to end up with the best composition possible.

Maple Pecan Spinach Salad

OK! I really hope this has been helpful and if you have any questions please leave a comment. I answer every single comment on my site as soon as possible (and if I miss something, let me know—it’s not intentional).

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