This introduction to rotating, straightening and cropping food photos in Lightroom will be quite a short post.
It’s a simple edit, but cropping & straightening food photos can be an important part of post-processing, especially if you’re using food photos for a number of different channels – how do you get the right crop for Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and for use on your website too?
Read this post to find out how to quickly straighten up your images and crop them to the best size.
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This post is part of a series on using Adobe Photoshop & Lightroom for food photography. See the other posts:
– Pixlr vs Photoshop: Why I made the switch
– Importing photos to Lightroom
– Sorting & organising photos in Lightroom
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Cropping & straightening food photos in Lightroom
I’m grouping crop & straighten together here for convenience. Though they are different functions, the crop, straighten, rotate & flip options are all in the same sidebar panel in Lightroom.
Why do you need to crop & straighten food photos?
Crop to remove the edge of an image
Cropping food photos allows you to cut out any unsightly edges. Often the side of a table or a piece of equipment will end up just in
Crop to fit the rule of thirds
Another reason for cropping food photos is to improve the composition. Using the rule of thirds in photography is a simple way to make food photos more visually appealing and pleasing to the eye. For images with the subject centred in the frame, you can crop to instead place the subject
Straighten an off-kilter image
Often, when shooting food photos, images can end up slightly off-kilter. Particularly when shooting freehand, or trying to capture a particular angle in a confined space, it can be easy to make your food photos look like they were taken on the side of a mountain. Straightening food photos lets you fix a slightly off-kilter image:
Rotate an image
As well as the ability to straighten an off-kilter image, you may want to completely rotate an image through 90° or 180°. This is often the case with overhead shots, as it can be hard for the camera to detect the orientation of an image when taken directly from above. Equally, rotating a food image generally only works with
Flip or mirror an image
You can also ‘flip’, to make a mirror image. Occasionally, flipping an image can make it look better. Make sure to look out for words, or cutlery positions that can make a flipped food image look awkward:
When to crop & straighten food photos
Once I’ve selected the photo to edit, the first thing I generally do is crop & straighten it.
Do this before making any other edits, so you are working with the ‘final’ image composition when making other editing decisions.
How to crop & straighten using Lightroom
You can crop & straighten in free programmes, like Gimp or Pixlr, but the slow workflow of those compared to the ease and convenience of Lightroom, make it 100% worth the little monthly spend.
Then, open the Crop & Rotate panel in the right sidebar, to access the controls for cropping, straightening, rotating & flipping.
Straightening food photos in Lightroom
First, straighten the shot, to line up any straight vertical or horizontal lines. Move the straighten slider left & right, using the grid overlaid on the image to line up a straight line. You can also use the numbers next to the slider to insert a precise degree of rotation to straighten the image by.
Rotating food photos in Lightroom
If you want to rotate the image, you can easily do that with the Rotate Left & Rotate Right buttons, to rotate exactly 90° left or right. Use either button twice to rotate 180°.
Flipping or Mirroring food photos in Lightroom
Create a horizontal mirror image using the Mirror Horizontally button. To flip an image, creating a vertical ‘mirror’ of itself, use the Flip Vertically button.
Cropping food photos in Lightroom
Cropping your images is a powerful but simple tool in post-processing
Cropping images before you even start detailed editing can be a quick and easy way to make big improvements to their overall look & feel.
This crop is more to fix any edges or composition issues than to fit specific standard social media
What dimensions to crop food photos to
The final dimensions of your image will vary, depending on the intended use.
For this post, we’re not talking so much about resizing food photos for various channels (I’m planning a whole other post on that), but about using the crop tool in post-processing to improve your images’ composition.
If you know that you plan to use your images only for a specific platform, then cropping to a ratio to suit that platform may be a good idea:
- 1:1 (square) images for Instagram
- 16:9 portrait (long) images for Pinterest or Instagram/Facebook stories
- 16:9 landscape (wide) images for Twitter, Facebook & most website header images
If you’re not sure, or you plan to use the image across multiple channels, keep the dimensions as large as possible. Ideally, keep the original size & ratio, unless any edges need cropping out, as that will give you more flexibility down the line when you are resizing for different channels.
How to crop food photos in Lightroom
Set your aspect ratio. If you’re not sure, use Original to keep the same dimensions, or Custom if you only want to crop from one edge of the image.
Then, drag the tags on each side and corner of the image to the crop you want. Use the grid overlay as a guideline, to find the centre or one-third line in your image.
When you have the desired crop, press enter to save the image.
Now you know why & how to crop & straighten your food photos in Lightroom, the next post in this series will show you how I use the Lightroom edit panel.