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Chapter 17. Workflow > Step 2—Initial Rough Crop & Straighten

Step 2—Initial Rough Crop & Straighten

The first thing I do after opening an image is to crop, rotate and straighten it. If the image was captured sideways, I'll rotate it while viewing the thumbnail image in Bridge since it has Rotate Right and Rotate Left icons that make rotation a breeze. Once the image is sitting upright in Photoshop, I'll make sure that any horizontal or vertical lines are perfectly level. To accomplish that, I click and hold on the Eyedropper tool in the Tools palette and choose the Measure tool (which looks like a ruler). With that tool active, I'll click and drag across any straight edge that should be perfectly horizontal or vertical (like a horizon or the side of a building) and then choose Image > Rotate Canvas > Arbitrary and use the default setting (which will be based on the angle of the line you drew with the Measure tool) (Figures 17.12 and 17.13). Next, I'll do an initial crop to discard any areas that I'm sure I won't need in the final image. Everything at this stage of the workflow was done for the following reasons:

  • There is no need to retouch or adjust areas that will not appear in your final image, so it's best to get rid of those areas now so you don't waste time making them look their best.

    At this stage, the idea is to get rid of elements that you are absolutely sure you don't need. At a later stage, I perform a more precise crop.

    This is also the stage at which you can attempt to correct distortion in the image by applying the Lens Correction filter. Just make sure you duplicate the original image layer first so you're never stuck with the end result of your lens correction.

  • It's ideal to have a straight image before text and other elements are added because straightening the image later might make those elements crooked, unless you're particularly careful with the methods you use.

  • Color correction and other techniques optimize the contrast of an image by making the brightest area of the image close to white and the darkest area close to black. If the image is optimized before it is cropped, areas that might be discarded (through later cropping) will influence how much contrast is added to the whole image, even though they won't be seen in the end result. It's also important to remove any black or white borders from your image if you plan to apply any automated color correction or contrast adjustments since they can also throw off your results.

  • Cropping the image now will allow Photoshop to run faster since it will have less information to process, which is more noticeable when you're working with very large file sizes.



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