Today’s question is from Melissa who asks:
Question: How Do I Crop My Photos For Printing?
When I print my photos I get white space at the top or bottom of the photo. The attendant at the kiosk said i need to crop my photos. I’ve now noticed there is an option to crop with the aspect ratio of the camera or for a print size in Lightroom.
How Do I Crop My Photos For Printing?
In today’s episode:
- No right or wrong to crop your photos
- Cropping for the end result
- Cropping to compose your photo
- Shooting wide to allow for cropping
- 2:3 aspect ratio
And with cropping there is no right or wrong way in general.
Photography being a creative medium, you can crop any which way you want. But what I would give advice in this case, is to crop for the end result. So, your end result being that you’re trying to print your photos, you haven’t mentioned which size.
Generally, if you’re printing, say, to like an 8 by 10, and you haven’t cropped the photo, or it’s not resized in the correct size, you’re going to get, say, the white lines at the top and bottom, which you’re pointed out here.
Cropping for end results, you should be doing that anyway, because it just makes life a lot easier. Generally, what I would do is use the aspect ratio of my sensor, which is two by three, three being the long side on the bottom, and the side being two. The aspect ratio of an 8 by 10 photo is, I think, four by five, which is close to a square. Three by two, which is what most people’s sensors are, it’s actually a rectangle, which would explain why you’re getting those white bars.
If you can imagine, it’s trying to shrink the photo into the paper. There’s two things happening. One, you’re going to get the white bars, because it shrinks into it. Or, if it tries to fill the pieces of paper completely, because your photos start off as a rectangle, and it’s trying to fit it more into a square shape, you’re going to lose the two sides, or the top and bottom. So, you’re going to lose some of your photo.
Not generally good if you’re taking portraits, because you’re going to chop heads off and the like. So, that’s just something to think about.
So, generally what I would do, if in lightroom, would when I crop, I would set it to the aspect ratio of two by three, which is what my sensor is, crop the photo in such a way that, of course, it’s pleasing to the eye.
Now generally, when you’re taking photos, you’d want to pre-visualize what your photo’s going to look like, so how the cropping’s going to be, and then how the light’s coming in, and how you’re going edit it later on.
If you can pre-visualize, say, the cropping and what you could do is either crop in camera, meaning that you use your feet, or if you’ve got a prime lens or use the zoom to zoom in. That way that’s how you’re cropping in camera.
And when it comes time to printing, you print to a print size that is suited for that aspect ratio, which would be like a 4 x 6, an 8 x 12, 16 x 24 inch, a 20 inch x 30 inch. They’re the two by three ratio prints that you won’t have to modify anything if you were just to take a photo, print them off, and you would lose very minimal, okay, very minimal off the sides or the top and bottom depending on the orientation.
Now, if you want to print, say, to an 8 by 10, that’s slightly different. As I mentioned earlier, you will lose a little bit of the photo. If you were say for instance to … when you photograph your object, or the subject I should say, don’t zoom so much in and just leave a little bit of extra space around.
And you’re doing that so when you are editing a photo and you got to crop, you can set it to the aspect ratio for the print size, which would be 8 x 10, if that’s the size. Or four x five, you know, that type of thing.
In fact, it actually doesn’t really matter, it could be any size as long as you leave enough space for when you go and set the crop to be locked in into the aspect ratio, you’re giving yourself enough space that it doesn’t matter where you print it from.
And you crop it, and when you put a memory card and take it down to the kiosk and print off, it’ll be perfect for that print size.
The only issue is, that if you crop that photo and say you want to print it to a different size that might be a different aspect ratio, that’s when you get the white lines, so that’s just something to think about.
Just remember, you shoot a little bit wider and that will give you a little bit of buffer space to play with the cropping.
What I generally would do, would be just to keep either the print sizes consistent, or my cropping consistent, that way I’ll know exactly how things will be. But also, if you’re also for instance printing, say, to a canvas, you have to put extra space around the photo anyway, because of when it wraps around the piece of wood.
If say, for instance, you’re framing your print, and you want to put a nice matt around it so you have the print and then you have a white matt, and then you have the frame around that matt, the matt is going to take up a little bit of the photo anyways. So having that little bit extra wide space may or may not affect it. It just depends on the photo.
Even if you don’t have the mat, when you put a photo directly into a frame, you will lose a little bit of that photo anyway. I think that what you’re mentioning here, the white space at the top and bottom, when I’ve printed to an 8 x 10, which is not a common size here in Australia, people do print to it, but you get those white marks. So, that’s how I know that that’s the case.
So, there you go, Melissa. I hope that answers your question, and thanks for submitting it.