No matter what the output is for our image be it printed, projected or just viewed on a screen we need to crop and size our images correctly. When sizing an image we need to firstly consider and understand it's aspect ratio, that being the relationship between the width and height of the image. Most modern cameras produce images that are approximately 3:2 (1.5) That is to say that in landscape format the image have a width = to 1.5 x it's height. Most family snaps commercially printed in the high street are 6 inches x 4 inches which is a ratio of 3:2. This is perfect for the family snaps but rarely in our photography for printing and mounting or viewing on screen is this the optimal ratio.
Let's look at some common aspect ratios.
1:1 (1.0) Square image
5:4 (1.25) Early tv and large format monitor screens
4:3 (1.33) Later tv and computer monitor standard
3:2 (1.5) Traditional 35mm photographic film
8:5 (1.6) A common computer screen ratio
16:9 (1.77) HD video (widescreen tv)
In club photography currently the PDI (projected digital image) format is 1600 x 1200 pixels, as you can see this is a ratio of 4:3. Where as printed images are restricted to being mounted on a 50 x 40 cm mount, this being a ratio of 5:4. Note in both cases this is the maximum size permitted, some competitions will call for a specific size to be used but others only stipulate a maximum. Now here's where it gets a little confusing, when we mount a print on a 50 x 40 cm mount board we then apply a matte (a card frame) with a window cut out. There are generally no rules to the shape and the size of the window cut out but again a 65 mm border around the finished images is an accepted pleasing finish. If we take our matte of 50 x 40 cm and mark out a border of 65 mm to all 4 sides this leaves us with a window size of 37 x 27 cm i.e. a 37:27 ratio. This is important when cropping our prints that we look at the window ratio not the mount ratio. You do have to make the choice, crop the print to fit the window or cut the window to fit the print, it will depend on your image. Hover over image to see ratio.
If we tried to resize our images before we cropped them the images would get stretched or squashed. To crop our images in photoshop we need to select the crop tool from the left side tools menu by clicking on with the mouse or pressing the letter c on our keyboard. This brings up the crop dialogue.
Here at the top of the screen we can enter our desired crop ratio by clicking in the box and entering a number.
Once we have done that you will see an overlay on our image and will be able to drag to resize the overlay and drag our image around in the overlay to select the portion of the image we want.
Pressing enter or clicking the tick on the top tool bar crops the image.
We are now ready to move onto the next step of sizing the image.
Now that we have the image the right shape we require for our chosen size we can now resize the image to that size with no fear of the image being squashed or stretched.