My favorite image editing software, Adobe Photoshop Lightroom™, offers some great tools for performing a crop. In preparation for an upcoming article, I thought I would devote a little time to a discussion on Crop Presets (Aspect Ratio Presets if you prefer). If you invoke the Lightroom Crop tool from the Develop module, you have the opportunity to both use and create Aspect Ratios to match a variety of situations.
The list of Aspect Ratio presets is divided into several areas. The first bundle of ratios is common print sizes. These represent the likely sizes you will need if you are cropping your images for print. The second bundle of Aspect Ratios is designed to give you a sampling of common Display/Monitor/Projector ratios. There are even handy example pixel dimensions to help you pick the ratio that serves you best.
The third section. and the section that concerns this article, of Aspect Ratios is the 5 most-recently used Custom Aspect Ratios. This is a place to fill in the ratios you need most that are not in the first two lists. By selecting “Enter Custom…” you see this dialog. It allows you to place a custom ratio.
I tend to find the Custom Ratios which I enter remain stable with time. I also tend to reuse certain aspect ratios over and over again such that this list usually has 4 of the 5 items shown here at any given time. Occasionally a transient or seldom used ratio will bump one of these out. I thought it might be interesting to look at the ratios in my most recently used list and why they are there.
3.33:1 – This ratio is a transient ratio. It was the result of a couple of previous articles on Holy Crop! It is a crop I use for extreme panoramas. You can read that story here
8.51:3.14 – This is Facebook’s dimensions for the cover image on your profile page. I often cycle images through this header image and keep this hard-to-remember ratio handy.
2.35:1 – Think BIG CINEMA. When I want a wide-screen bigger-than-life this is the crop I try.
2:1 – I honestly think Adobe did us a disservice forcing us to use one of these common print ratio’s as a Custom Aspect Ratio. My lab makes 4×8, 5×10, 8×16, and 12×24 images. If they are looking for a quick augment for a future version of Lightroom, put this into the Print Ratio list.
1.618:1 - This is the crop that creates the so-called Golden Rectangle. Even though there is a crop guide for aligning along the golden ratio’s key rules, there isn’t a crop preset that precisely emulates the Golden Rectangle. When the goal is a classically shaped image boundary this is my go-to ratio.
Someday, it may be possible to customize further or make this list sticky so that you always have just the ratios you need. I hope that day comes sooner.
Rikk Flohr © 2013