The Photoshop Tool You Thought You Knew & How To Really Use It

Photoshop April 9th 2014 12:04 PM 6 Comments

It’s the ubiquitous photo editing tool that we all know and love or hate. Since inception in 1988 Photoshop has moved from basic grayscale displaying to rendering anything from 3D objects for printing or projection, to manipulating a photo to near perfection, and everything in between. Interestingly enough, with such a broad array of abilities, it’s still the brush and crop tools that are the most widely used, as basic as they may seem.

The crop tool may seem the most basic – section off a frame in an image, crop it, and voila, a new look and scale to your image. But like the landscape of our beloved foray, the crop tool is ever evolving, and there’s so much more to it that you may not know existed. 

I’m going to show you how to make the most of it, and I’m excited to, as I’ve shown a few people who use Photoshop on the regular, who all were as surprised as I was when I was shown.

The How To

Tip 1: Easily fix a tilt/misaligned horizon

photoshop-crop-tool-landscape-aerial-thunderbirds-f16-viper-england-devon-sheepstor-USAF-photography-aviation-2

This image taken from Sheepstor is a little problematic – namely it’s slanted, and I don’t want that. By selecting the crop tool, the entire image gets selected at the same time. [Immediately you can go to the ‘Ratio’ button and choose a ratio you like. Any preset ratio or one of your choosing. It’s simple and quick.]

photoshop-crop-tool-landscape-aerial-thunderbirds-f16-viper-england-devon-sheepstor-USAF-photography-aviation

To fix the tilt, you can hit the ‘Straighten’ tool and draw a line along the axis that you want to be straight, and once you let go of the button when drawing the line, Photoshop will automatically set the photo to be straight and level. Very quick and no fiddling needed.

photoshop-crop-tool-landscape-aerial-thunderbirds-f16-viper-england-devon-sheepstor-USAF-photography-aviation-3

photoshop-crop-tool-landscape-aerial-thunderbirds-f16-viper-england-devon-sheepstor-USAF-photography-aviation-4

note* keep in mind the ‘Delete Cropped Pixels Tool’ – if this box is ticked, once the crop is done, the rest of the image will be deleted. However if you uncheck it, and come back to the crop tool, the full original image before crop will remain.

photoshop-crop-tool-landscape-aerial-thunderbirds-f16-viper-england-devon-sheepstor-USAF-photography-aviation-5

Tip 2: Make a Landscape oriented image, into a portrait oriented image

photoshop-crop-tool-landscape-aerial-thunderbirds-f16-viper-england-devon-sheepstor-USAF-photography-aviation-7
In this image I snapped while spending some time with The Thunderbirds,  I want to cut out some of the F-16s in the background, and make the Viper in the foreground more isolated and the focus, and achieve this by changing it to a vertical image.

With the crop tool selected I hit the ‘Clear’ button, which lets me transform the crop to what I want. But instead of staying in the frame, I will extend upwards. Essentially I will be adding to the image. Crop then, isn’t just for taking away.

photoshop-crop-tool-landscape-aerial-thunderbirds-f16-viper-england-devon-sheepstor-USAF-photography-aviation-6

photoshop-crop-tool-landscape-aerial-thunderbirds-f16-viper-england-devon-sheepstor-USAF-photography-aviation-9

Once you’ve set the crop with added space, hit the check mark button up top to commit to the action and delete the unwanted parts of the image. You’ll end up with something like this:

photoshop-crop-tool-landscape-aerial-thunderbirds-f16-viper-england-devon-sheepstor-USAF-photography-aviation-11

Then take the Magic Wand tool, and select the blank area which will be filled. Go to Select>Modify>Expand and hit ‘OK’. Then hit the Delete key, and select ‘Content Aware,’ and the rest of the space should be filled quite accurately. It works wonders with skies, and even complex ones like this.

photoshop-crop-tool-landscape-aerial-thunderbirds-f16-viper-england-devon-sheepstor-USAF-photography-aviation-12

photoshop-crop-tool-landscape-aerial-thunderbirds-f16-viper-england-devon-sheepstor-USAF-photography-aviation-13

This is the result and it’s impressive for all of 20 seconds of effort.

photoshop-crop-tool-landscape-aerial-thunderbirds-f16-viper-england-devon-sheepstor-USAF-photography-aviation-14

Thoughts

There’s so much time that can be saved using these tools, and so much creativity to be born from them. I hope this is of some use and if you have any questions please do give us a shout, or even to share your usage of it. Also if you liked this do check out How To Choose Your Best Images: Top Tips On Culling Your Photos.

Advertisement

About

Kishore is a photographer and writer based in Miami, though he can often be found at dog parks, and airports in London and Toronto. With a passion for beauty and aviation photography his work is all at once focused and eclectic. He is also a tremendous fan of flossing and the happiest guy around when the company’s good.

6 Comments

  1. Beth

    OK! That expand command is going to be super helpful! Thanks for the awesome tip!!

    3
    • Kishore Sawh

      Beth, hi there. You’re very welcome indeed. I see you do newborn and family photography… but no cats. What’s up with that? ;-) Cheers

      6
  2. Waqas Zafar

    Great tutorial, even though the cloning of clouds might not work in other situations. What about content aware tool?…

    2
  3. Phil Sharpe

    Great tip on expanding the sky!

    1
    • Kishore Sawh

      Glad you find it useful Phil. I generally tend to use it for skies and walls. I like textured walls and shooting subjects/women in front of them, and sometimes this is a great help in expanding the scope. Cheers

      0

Leave a reply

Advertisement