Today’s Question: When I’m trying to decide how to crop a photo in Lightroom, I’m looking for an easy way to decide if I want it 8×10, or 8×12, etc. I’ve been using the crop tool and then setting a custom crop setting then going back and looking at the photo, but it seems like there should be an easier, faster way.
Tim’s Quick Answer: It sounds like the “Crop Guide Overlays” feature in Lightroom will provide a good solution for what you’re looking for. You can choose the aspect ratios you want to compare in the Choose Aspect Ratios checkbox, and then enable the crop overlay so you can compare different aspect ratios at one time simply by adjusting the crop.
More Detail: To get started, go to the Develop module and select the Crop tool using the button below the Histogram display on the right panel (or by pressing “R” on the keyboard). Then choose Tools > Crop Guide Overlay > Choose Aspect Ratios from the menu. This will bring up the Choose Aspect Ratios dialog, where you can turn on the checkbox for the specific aspect ratios you’d like to compare. Then click OK to close the Choose Aspect Ratios dialog.
Next, choose Tools > Crop Guide Overlay > Aspect Ratios from the menu. This will cause this option to be activated, as indicated by a checkmark icon to the left of this menu option. However, initially nothing will seem to have changed for the image.
To actually see the crop tool overlay and therefore compare different crop aspect ratios, you simply need to drag one of the edges or corners of the crop box on the image. When you have the mouse button down, in addition to the outer crop boundary you will see an overlay indicating the various aspect ratios you selected. This enables you to get a reasonable preview of different aspect ratios for the crop in real time.
One minor challenge with this feature is that a certain amount of translation is required if you are seeking to preview specific print sizes. For example, there isn’t an overlay option for “8×12”. Instead there is an option for “2×3 4×6”, which of course reflects the same aspect ratio as an 8×12 crop.
If the crop tool overlay causes you to decide on a particular crop aspect ratio, you can then select that aspect ratio for the Crop tool and apply the desired crop to your photo.