What A Difference A Crop Makes

Quick commentary: I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving. I’m still recovering from all the food I’ve been eating the past few days. I’ve also been slacking on my blogging the past few weeks, because work and life have both been busy. You know exactly what I mean, I’m sure. So, I’m jumping back into blogging head first with some tips on how to edit photos.

Photography purists shy away from using editing tools such as Photoshop and Lightroom. Their goal is to frame and shoot the perfect photo by determining the best shutter speed, aperture, lens, etc. My take? Editing tools give us options. Plus, they take away the stress of shooting the perfect photo in the moment. Below are a few tips for using Photoshop (or any editing software you’re comfortable with) to optimize your photos.

1. Crop to achieve the rule of thirds and eliminate distractions.
Take this photo of my niece and nephew as an example.

This photo as it’s currently framed ignores the rule of thirds, since both subjects are in the middle of the photo. Plus, my nephew’s foot with the big “Hanes” written across the bottom is somewhat distracting. Here’s what it looks like after I crop the photo.

This quick crop has helped eliminate distractions and focus your eyes on what I want you to see: the straws and the facial expressions of my niece and nephew.

2. Lighten it up
Lighting is an art in photography; one I’m still working on as I enhance my photography skills. Photographers also have unique preferences on lighting. I tend to like my photos brighter and lighter than what my camera takes on standard settings. In the photo above, the bright sky in the upper right hand corner made everything else in the photo dark. So, I added a “brightness/contrast” layer to this photo in Photoshop and increased the brightness to +103.
Adding Brightness in Photoshop

3. Help Define With A Boost
One of my favorite tools in Photoshop is Actions. Actions are a series of edits grouped together that allow you to quickly edit and enhance your photos with a click of a button. You can buy actions or download them for free from other photography bloggers. My favorite are the actions built by The Pioneer Woman. I used her “Boost” action to add some more contrast and detail to the photo above. Here’s what it looks like after the boost is applied.

4. Create An Edge Burn for Additional Focus
While cropping this photo helped focus the eye on my niece and nephew’s faces, I sometimes like to take this focus a step further with an edge burn. You can check out this tutorial for how to create an edge burn in Photoshop, but I prefer to use the “Quick Edge Burn” action from The Pioneer Woman’s set, because it’s quick. Here’s what the photo looks like with an edge burn at 38% opacity.
Photoshop Edge Burn

I often use these four steps to quickly enhance my digital photos. However, there is much more to the world of Photoshop that I’m still learning. While I’m doing my best to take the best photos possible with my Nikon, I appreciate that these editing tools exist to give me a boost when I need them.

What are your favorite photo editing techniques?


About Wendy from Suburban Misfit

Social Media Manager by day; blogger and amateur photographer by night.
This entry was posted in Photography, Techniques and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to What A Difference A Crop Makes

  1. Robin says:

    I’m with you on editing/processing photos. Although there are times I go purist (and really, I try to get it right in camera first), it’s nice to have other options for when things don’t turn out as planned. And lately I’ve been playing with other options just for fun.

    I like how you did this. Great tutorial, and the finished product is so cute. 🙂

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