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Chapter 4. Editing Photos > Specific Aspect Ratios

Specific Aspect Ratios

If you wish to use a photo in a book, or for ordering prints, you should crop it to the aspect ratio that matches your intended use first (Figure 4.30).

Figure 4.30. Choose the aspect ratio that matches your intended use before cropping.


See the next page for how to crop photos and see “Understanding Aspect Ratios” in Appendix A, “Deep Background,” for more details about aspect ratios.

Uses for specific aspect ratios:

  • Use 1280 × 1024 (Display) when you’re cropping the image for use as a Desktop picture. These numbers are specific to your monitor’s resolution.

  • Use 4 × 3 (Book, DVD) when you’re cropping the image for use in an iPhoto book or in a DVD slideshow created with iDVD. TVs also use the 4 × 3 aspect ratio, which is why it works best for DVDs. Use 4 × 3 Portrait (Book) for books; iPhoto doesn’t recommend it for DVDs, since much of the screen will be empty.

  • Use 4 × 6 (Postcard) and 4 × 6 Portrait (Postcard) for 4 × 6 prints, which are roughly the size of standard postcards.

  • Use 5 × 7 (L, 2L) and 5 × 7 Portrait (L, 2L) for 5 × 7 prints (and no, I’m not sure exactly what L and 2L stand for).

  • Use 8 × 10 and 8 × 10 Portrait for 8 × 10 color glossy photographs. (With apologies to Arlo Guthrie, you’ll have to add the circles and arrows on the back of each one yourself.)

  • Use Square when you want a perfect square selection; I’ve found it useful for making images for use on the Web.

  • Use a custom ratio if some external use, such as a Web page, calls for a specific aspect ratio (Figure 4.31).

    Figure 4.31. For an unusual custom aspect ratio, edit the image in its own window and enter the desired aspect ratio in the Custom fields before selecting.

Tips for Working with Aspect Ratios

You may often find yourself wanting to switch between the portrait (vertical) and landscape (horizontal) aspect ratios as you crop different photos, and you may also find yourself cursing a specific aspect ratio as you try to select a person’s eyes to reduce red-eye. iPhoto has two hidden features to assuage your annoyance.

  • Press while dragging to switch between portrait and landscape.

  • Press while dragging to switch temporarily to None so you can more easily select eyes for red-eye reduction.


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