Understanding Cropping vs Resizing in Photography

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Understanding Cropping vs Resizing in Photography

Understanding Cropping vs Resizing in Photography

This tutorial is the last in a three-part series covering Aspect Ratio, Resolution, and Cropping vs. Resizing.

Most digital photographers have to grapple with the difference between cropping and resizing at some point.  I keep the two straight this way:

Cropping is for when you need to recompose a picture (crop out something to get rid of it or change the focal point) or for when you need to make a picture fit a certain size paper.

Resizing is for when you need to make the picture “weigh” less for uploading to the internet, or for making it fit a certain digital space (like a blog).

It’s not uncommon to use both cropping and resizing on an image.  Let’s use this image as an example.

I am going to crop the image to make it conform more closely to the rule of thirds and to bring the focal point of the image to the model’s eyes.

Knowing that I don’t want to change the aspect ratio of the image, I enter a width of 4 inches and a height of 6 inches in the Photoshop crop tool settings.  In Elements, I would select “Use Photo Ratio” from the Aspect Ratio drop down menu in the crop settings.

After drawing out the crop area, I click on the check mark to commit the changes.  My image is now cropped and I want to post it into this article.  So it’s time to RESIZE.

In full Photoshop or Elements, I go to the Image Size dialog via the Image menu.  This is what it tells me about my photo:

Not only is 2,760  pixels way to big for this blog, it’s probably too big for your computer monitor as well.  And a quick check of how much the image “weighs” tells me that it’s currently 7.2 megabtyes.  That would take a long time to upload to this website and a long time for your computer to load the image onto your screen.

That’s why we need to resize.  No computer monitor, TV or other digital screen will display a resolution great than 72 pixels per inch.  So a quick and easy way to put this image on a diet is to change the resolution from 240 to 72.  Make sure that Constrain Proportions and Resample Image are checked.  By reducing the resolution with Resample checked, I am essentially removing pixels from this file.

Look how the width (measured in pixels) has shrunk to 828 now:

I like to size my blog images at 600 pixels wide, so you can see that this image is still a bit too wide.  I type 600 in the pixel width field and the height changes proportionately to maintain my aspect ratio (because I have Constrain Proportions selected).  I am left with this Image Size dialog:

And I finish with this cropped and resized image:

Want more information like this?  Take one of Jodi’s online Photoshop classes or Erin’s online Elements classes offered by MCP Actions.  Erin can also be found at Texas Chicks Blogs and Pics, where she documents her photography journey and caters to the Photoshop Elements crowd.

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Understanding Cropping vs Resizing in Photography