cover225x225Note: This post is from our book Develop Great Images in Lightroom (available on iBookstore & Scribd).

Often when I crop, its all about precision. I frequently need to crop to a specific aspect ratio. Sometimes its for the screen (video projects and slideshows) as well as print output. In these cases, I need the shape of my photo to precisely match my target.

Fortunately Lightroom makes this easy

Step 1: Select an image for cropping

Step 2: Choose the Crop Overlay tool by pressing the R key. This will even switch you from the Library module to the Develop module. An outline appears around the image with adjustment handles to modify the crop.

CropIntroStep 3: Examine the Crop Overlay tool in the tool drawer. A closed padlock means the crop tool is constrained to a preset. While, you can click the lock to unconstrained the crop tool, lets focus on using a specific aspect ratio preset.

Step 4: Click the a Aspect pop-up menu next to the padlock to choose an aspect ratio. The following choices are available (international localizations may contain different sizes).

  • As Shot: This matches the original ratio of the photo.
  • Original: This essentially uncross the image and restores it to its original crop.
  • Custom: More on this later

These ratios are common print sizes.

Crop_Pop_up

  • 1×1: This is a square-shaped crop.
  • 4×5 / 8×10: This is a popular print size.
  • 8.5×11: This matches a standard sheet of paper in a US standard.
  • 5×7: Another sized crop used for prints and frames.
  • 2×3 / 4×6: These two sizes are also widely used for prints.

The sizes are frequently used for multimedia projects.

  • 4×3 1024×768: This matches many older computer and revision monitors.
  • 16×9 1920×1080: This is the aspect ratio for most video projects.
  • 16×10 1280×800: This is the ratio of most widescreen computer monitors.

Tip: If youd like to use the Crop Overlay tool with the last settings used, press Shift+A.

Step 5: Drag a crop handle to crop the image. You can also click to select the Crop Frame tool to freely position the crop.

Step 6: You can modify the crop behavior if needed with a keyboard shortcut. Press the X key to toggle the orientation of the crop between portrait and landscape.

Step 7: Press Return (or Enter) to apply the crop. You can exit without cropping by pressing the Escape key.

Remember, all cropping is nondestructive. You can always revert a cropped image by choosing Original from the pop-up menu to restore an image to its original crop.