Cropping to a New Composition

To crop a photo simply means to trim away some of its perimeter. Cropping can often improve an image, as illustrated by Figure 9-8. When shooting this scene, I was attracted to the way the sun was shining through the petals of the tulip. But I couldn't get close enough to fill the frame with the flower. So I just got as close as I could, selected the highest image resolution, and snapped the pic. Because of the high initial resolution, I had enough pixels left to crop the image to the composition, shown on the right in the figure.

Figure 9-8: The original (left) contained too much extraneous background; cropping produces a much better composition (right).

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The JPEG Edit menu offers two options for cropping a photo. But both work only on JPEG images shot at the default image aspect ratio — 4:3. Assuming that you do start with a 4:3 image, you can select the normal crop function, highlighted on the left in Figure 9-9, or the option just below it, Aspect. Here's the difference between the two:

✓ Crop: Select this option to keep the proportions of your cropped photo at 4:3. After you highlight the option and press OK, you see the screen shown on the right in Figure 9-9. The crop frame surrounds the area of the picture that will be retained. You can adjust the frame as follows:

Figure 9-9: Select the Crop option to trim the image but retain a 4:3 aspect ratio.

• To change the size and orientation of the frame: You can press either the Fn button or the Zoom button. Each press cycles you through a selection of four different crop frames: two with a vertical orientation and two with a horizontal orientation.

• To reposition the frame: Use the arrow keys to shift the crop frame into position.

Press OK to create the cropped copy of the image. You see a preview of the cropped photo; select Yes and press OK to finish the job.

If you can't achieve the crop you want using one of the four frame options, remember that you can do an initial crop and then crop the cropped copy, if you get my drift. For example, the boundary shown in Figure 9-9 was the smallest crop frame I could get that retained the picture's original orientation. So I created the cropped copy and then cropped it to produce the final version shown in Figure 9-8.

✓ Aspect: This option lets you crop to one of the camera's other available aspect ratios: 3:2, 16:9, or 6:6. But you can't control the size of the crop frame as you can with the crop tool — the camera automatically retains as much original image area as will fit the new proportions. Nor can you apply the normal crop tool to the image after you apply the Aspect tool. You can crop first and then apply the Aspect tool to change the proportions of the cropped image, however.

To change the aspect ratio, highlight Aspect on the JPEG Edit menu and press OK. On the next screen, shown on the left in Figure 9-10, highlight your aspect ratio of choice and then press OK. (Choose 3:2 if you're cropping the picture to fit a 4-x-6-print size.) Now you see a crop frame, as shown on the right in the figure. Use the arrow keys to position the frame over the part of the picture you want to keep, and then press OK. The camera creates your cropped copy.

Figure 9-10: Use the Aspect option to crop to proportions of 3:2, 16:9, or 6:6.

For cropping to any aspect ratio other than the four standard proportions — or if you just find the in-camera cropping options too limited — you can do the job easily in most any photo program. Most retail print kiosks and online sites also offer easy-to-use crop tools and will even recommend the appropriate print size for the cropped photo.

BE# Which brings me to one final reminder: Don't forget that cropping eliminates pixels from the image. For a decent print, you need at least 200 pixels per inch, so be careful about cropping too tightly. The extent to which I cropped the example photo retained enough pixels to produce a decent 4-x-6-inch print, but little more. Additionally, each time you edit and save the file, image quality is reduced slightly because the picture undergoes another round of JPEG compression. See Chapter 2 for more about pixels and compression.

Digital Cameras For Beginners

Digital Cameras For Beginners

Although we usually tend to think of the digital camera as the best thing since sliced bread, there are both pros and cons with its use. Nothing is available on the market that does not have both a good and a bad side, but the key is to weigh the good against the bad in order to come up with the best of both worlds.

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