How To: Determine the Perfect Crop for an Image

Sometimes, uncropping beats cropping

The Fix It Fast Team almost always ends up cropping an image, but when we saw Linda Morley-Wells’ quiet image of a swan, we felt it needed more space. Specifically, negative space that serves a function—here, added to the upper right to better balance the composition and place the swan closer to a true Rule of Thirds point.

In Adobe Photoshop CS5, it was a simple matter of extending the picture canvas, then using Content Aware Fill to add more water surface. While we were at it, we boosted contrast very slightly using Curves.

Total time fixing: 7 minutes.

A postscript: The Sea Ranch, CA, photographer later told us, “I had taken two shots, and after I submitted this one to Pop Photo, I decided I preferred the other one—where I left more space on the right side of the photo.” Just goes to show you.

Schollenberger Park, Santa Rosa PPH0611

Photo: Linda Morley-Wells