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What Does Cropping Mean

Cropping is the process of trimming the edges of a photo, either digitally with photo processing software, of physically when a print is trimmed with a knife or guillotine.  Ideally, cropping should be used as a tool to improve upon the composition of the original photo, though sometimes it is necessary in order to make an image fit a specific dimension of photographic frame.

The crop tool is one of the most important and widely used tools in any image processing software, whether it is in a mobile app, or a full-blown piece of computer software like Adobe Lightroom.

When an image is cropped, the dimensions of the photo will shrink.  In other words, they will not have so many pixels and this can be detrimental to the print process iff too many pixels are chopped off in the cropping process.  Because of this, you should try not to crop too much off your image unless you are shooing with extremely high resolution cameras.

Another choice you have during the crop process is to choose whether or not to maintain the original aspect ratio of the image.  Aspect ratio is the is the ratio of the length of the long edge of a photo vs. the short edge.  Most DSLRs have a 3:2 aspect, but some other cameras have a 4:3 aspect.  Cropping a different amount from the top or side of an image will change the aspect of the image.  In general it is best to maintain the aspect of your image unless you are creating either a panoramic shot (with something like a 3:1 or 4:1 aspect), or, a square crop which is a 1:1 aspect.


Additional Reading

  • What Is Aspect Ratio
  • What Is Lightroom
  • What Does Composition Mean?