Photoshop Basics – cropping for composition.

Categorized as Processing Techniques
Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon
Using the 135mm at Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon

Cropping for composition

There are many reasons why you might want to crop an image. You might want to make a smaller file size, you might have straightened an image and you need to correct it,or maybe you want to improve the composition. This article looks at post-processing tools so that you can crop your images according to the rules of composition.

Let’s first look at cropping to improve composition.
You may have a good picture but you want to get the composition perfect in terms of composition rules such as the golden mean or the rule of thirds.

Small Group Ice Caving

Rule of thirds

Open Adobe Photoshop and go to Edit=>Preferences=>Guides, Grids, slices and Count…

Photoshop Grids and Slices
Edit=>Preferences=>Guides, Grids, Slices and Count…

Open the Guides & Grids dialogue box.

Photoshop grid dialogue box

In the ‘grid’ section, enter the figures as shown above.

View=>Show=>Grids” width=”494″ height=”467″><figcaption id=

You can also use the shortcut (Ctrl + ‘) to turn the grid on and off quickly.

The rule of thirds grid should appear over your image.

Golden Mean

The golden mean is much more complex. There is no preset grid so we will steal a template from here.

Right click on the image and save it to your hard drive. Now open your image in photoshop.

Import the golden mean template and paste it over the top of your image. Resize it to suit.

fibonacci spiral

As this is a transparent file, you should be able to see your image underneath when you make it visible.

Golden mean

A lovely example of the areas of interest falling right on the golden curve. I cropped the image in line with the golden box.


By Tony Prower

Tony Prower spent over 15 years photographing the landscapes of Iceland. Tony Prower is a pioneer of the Magic Cloth Technique and ran thousands of photo tours in Iceland over 10 years.