How to Use the Crop Tool the Right Way

Duration: 3:53

Often you find yourself framing a photograph larger than you’d intended, or after examination you find the digital file is off center. In this video, How to Use the Crop Tool the Right Way, professional nature photographer David Johnston gives you tips on how to use the crop tool to achieve the ideal composition.

David works with an outdoor image of a beautiful tree in a field of wildflowers. To get movement in the clouds, he employed a long exposure. With David’s guidance, you will learn how to use the crop tool to achieve your desired result. In Lightroom he goes to the Develop mode and clicks on the Crop Overlay tool. This brings up the rule of thirds grid, which allows for correctly lining up the horizon line. A further click, and he adjusts the photograph along the overlaid grid lines. This is the simplest method in how to use the crop tool.

But to complement your composition, there is more you can do. You press the O key on your keyboard, which will bring up a number cropping options or “composition helpers,” as David calls them. The goal is to fine-tune your composition. To position the tree in the exact center of the image, David repeatedly clicks on the O key until he finds the right grid. This allows him to crop out part of the sky until the tree is centered. Next, it’s time to fine tune the sequence in how to use the crop tool. He finds a grid with diagonal crossing lines, then adds more cropping and other small adjustments. How to use the crop tool ultimately means scrolling through the various Lightroom cropping options and working with those.

Join Outdoor Photography Guide’s professional nature photographer David Johnston for creative ideas on how to use the crop tool the right way. You will love the results.

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