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Lesson 4. Image Adjustment Basics > Framing Your Images

Framing Your Images

Aperture offers a number of tools that help you frame images, which is an everyday task for many photographers. These tools, located on the center right of the toolbar, allow you to rotate, straighten, and crop images. Let’s use them now to adjust the frames of some of our five-star location images.

Rotating a Single Image

The Rotate tools allow you to change the orientation of your images. You can rotate clockwise (right) or counterclockwise (left) in 90-degree increments. You may need to rotate images, for example, if you held your camera in the portrait position to capture some shots and they were imported without adjustment. All of the images in our Smart Album are correctly oriented, but let’s learn to rotate images using one of our South America shots.

1.
Click the Rotate Left tool to select it.

2.
Click the image DSC_0986 in the Browser.

The image rotates 90 degrees counterclockwise.

Tip

Aperture uses the standard keyboard shortcut Command-Z to undo an action. If you make a mistake in rotating the image, just press Command-Z. Press Command-Z multiple times to step backward through the most recent actions.

3.
Press the R key to switch to the Rotate Right tool. The R key is the keyboard shortcut for both Rotate tools. If the Rotate Left tool is already selected, pressing R switches you to the Rotate Right tool.

Tip

Pressing Option temporarily switches between the Rotate Left and Rotate Right tools.

4.
Click the image DSC_0986 in the Browser. The image rotates 90 degrees clockwise, back to its original position.

5.
Press the A key to switch to the Selection tool.

It’s a good habit to switch to the Selection tool whenever you are done using an adjustment tool on the toolbar. This helps prevent accidental changes to images.

Rotating a single image is straightforward. You can also rotate a single image in the Viewer.

Rotating a Group of Images

Things get a bit tricky when you want to rotate multiple images at once, as you’ll see now.

1.
In the Browser, select the first image in the Smart Album, DSC_0966, and then Shift-click the fifth image, DSC_0980.

The five images appear in the Viewer, and the last image is your primary selection.

2.
Make sure the Primary Only option is off. You can tell it’s off because the background of the Primary Only button is light gray and the nonprimary images in the Viewer are outlined with a thin white frame.

3.
Select the Rotate Left tool and then click the second of the five images in the Viewer. Only the image that you click rotates.

4.
Press Command-Z and then turn on the Primary Only option. The Primary Only button’s background turns a darker shade of gray and the white outline surrounding the nonprimary images in the Viewer disappears.

5.
Click the third of the five images in the Viewer. Once again, only the image that you click rotates.

Using the Rotate tool, you can rotate only single images, regardless of the Primary Only setting. There is a way, however, to rotate multiple images at once, as you’re about to see.

6.
Press Command-Z, then press the A key to switch to the Selection tool.

7.
Press the left bracket ( [ ) key. The primary selection, DSC_0980, rotates 90 degrees counterclockwise, because the Primary Only mode is on.

8.
Press the right bracket ( ] ) key to rotate the primary selection 90 degrees clockwise, returning the image to its original orientation.

9.
Turn off the Primary Only mode by pressing the S key and then press the right bracket ( ] ) key.

All five images rotate 90 degrees clockwise.

10.
Press the ] key again. Now all of the images are upside down.

11.
Press the [ key twice to return the images to their original, upright positions. Then, click in the background of the Browser to deselect all the images.

To rotate a group of selected images, you must have the Primary Only mode off and you must use the [ and ] keys or the Rotate buttons in the control bar, not the Rotate tools in the toolbar, in the Viewer. Once you know the secret, it’s easy. You can, for example, Command-click to select discontiguous images in the Browser and then use [ or ] to rotate them. Who ever knew rotating could be this much fun!

Using the Straighten Tool

Now let’s perform some needed corrections, starting with a slanted horizon line in one of our Jackson Hole images. We’ll use the Straighten tool, which offers an innovative way of adjusting horizon lines: The tool automatically crops the image as necessary. It is primarily a corrective tool, as in our project, but it can also be used to create Dutch angles for those times when you purposefully frame an image on a slant to create a feeling of disorientation.

1.
Select the Jackson Hole 8 of 23 image in the Browser.

The horizon line is just off enough to drive a perfectionist photographer crazy. A slight adjustment will work wonders.

2.
Select the Straighten tool from the toolbar, or press G.

3.
Drag the cursor close to the center. As you drag, a grid appears to help you adjust the horizon so that it’s perfectly level, and the image rotates around the center crosshair of the grid. Don’t worry about getting the horizon perfect yet.

Dragging near the center crosshair is a little like turning a steering wheel. The rotation is very sensitive and becomes more difficult to control, the closer you drag to the crosshair.

4.
Drag the cursor toward the edge of the image frame and adjust until you are satisfied.

Dragging further away from the center crosshair allows you to adjust the rotation in smaller increments.

5.
Select Jackson Hole 9 of 23. This image doesn’t need to be straightened, but practice using the Straighten tool on the image to skew it.

6.
Choose Window > Show Adjustments or press Control-A to open the Adjustments Inspector.

7.
Click the Adjustments Inspector’s Action button and choose Remove Selected from the pop-up menu.

The Remove Selected command removes the adjustment performed by the currently selected tool. The Remove All Adjustments command, meanwhile, removes the effects of all the adjustments applied to an image regardless of which tool is currently selected. These are two useful commands to know, but we do want to level this horizon line.

8.
Use the Straighten tool to adjust the horizon line in any images that you think require straightening in the Five Star Locations Smart Album, then press the A key to switch to the Selection tool when you are done.

Clients are not likely to compliment you on your wonderfully level horizon lines, but they will certainly notice if your horizons are askew.

Using the Crop Tool

Cropping images is a basic task that photographers perform regularly. You can use cropping to remove an unwanted element from a frame or to create a dynamic shift in composition. In either case, you use Aperture’s Crop tool.

1.
Press I to close the Adjustments Inspector.

2.
Select the SoBe_2005 12 of 50 image in the Five Star Locations Smart Album in the Projects panel. It appears in the Viewer. This is a nice image, but there’s a small bit of kite, or a flag, in the upper left corner that’s a little distracting. And there’s a bystander on the beach who interferes with the overall serenity of the image. So let’s crop this image to remove those two unwanted elements.

3.
Select the Crop tool in the toolbar, or press C.

The Crop HUD appears, offering options for constraining the crop action to a specific aspect ratio. We’ll learn how to do that in the next task. Right now, we want to freely crop the image.

4.
Leave the Constrain box unchecked and drag the Crop HUD out of the way.

5.
Starting in the upper left corner, below the yellow flag, drag diagonally across the image in the Viewer to the lower right corner. Keep the bystander in the background in the shot for now.

The area outside the selection appears darker; this is the area that Aperture will crop out of the image. Aperture provides eight crop handles on the selection, which you can drag to adjust the crop area. Let’s do that now to remove the man standing by the water on the right side of the image.

6.
Drag the lower right corner handle up and to the left, releasing when the cursor is at the bottom of the lifeguard stand’s stairs.

7.
Drag the center left handle inward until the leftmost building is out of the frame.

8.
Drag the upper center handle to the top edge of the frame.

When you’re ready to apply the crop adjustment, simply press Return.

9.
Press Return to accept the crop and switch to the Selection tool.

Good work! You’ve successfully cropped two distracting elements from the image.

Cropping to a Specific Aspect Ratio

Many times when you crop an image, you must preserve its aspect ratio or you must crop it to a specific aspect ratio for a certain type of output. You can use the Crop HUD to crop to a specific aspect ratio.

1.
Select the SoBe_2005 3 of 50 image.

2.
Press the C key to select the Crop tool.

3.
In the Crop HUD, select the “Constrain cropping tool to” checkbox and then choose Common Sizes > 11 x 8.5.

4.
Drag diagonally across the image from the upper left corner to the lower right corner.

Cropping to an 11 x 8.5 aspect ratio results in a narrower image. That’s OK for this shot though, because we won’t lose any important content.

5.
Drag inside the cropping frame to the left and right to reposition it until you are happy with the composition.

6.
Press Return to accept the Crop adjustment.

Choosing an aspect ratio when cropping an image is an effective way to prepare the image for a specific type of output, such as an 11-x-8.5-inch print.

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