Photoshop Friday...ish

So.. what very deep hole did I fall into? Is that what you’re wondering?

How is it not Friday, not Saturday, but Sunday and I’m finally surfacing?  

Thursday was a day of sickness and total burnout. I watched parts of Ugly Betty and American Idol, flipping back and forth and realized that part of the reason I don’t watch TV is that my attention span is WAY too short for even a 1-hour show, and that I hate commercials (yes, we live in the dark ages and don’t have TiVo). One of those yucky nights where you can’t sleep but you can’t sit still. Blek.

Friday and Saturday I was feeling better, but spent all my free (ha!) time working on projects that are due on Monday. And Elliott spent all of last night throwing up, poor sick fella. He’s still running a fever, but has been able to keep water and crakers down today. We’re hoping this was just a passing thing. I hate to see my kids sick. :(

So while I want to say I was spirited away on a surprise Carribbean weekend vacation (because that’s a much cooler story and much better excuse, and would be a lot more fun than what actually happened), there it is.

And here I am with this week’s technique.

It’s super quick and easy, and a good way to add some visual interest to your photos by cropping at an angle.

I will preface this by saying, you will either be one of the straight-up-and-down photographers that hates techniques like this, and that’s cool. Or you will like it, and think that it adds something to the occassional snapshot or portrait. A little burst of energy and unexpectedness. And that’s cool, too. Gonna show you anyway. ;)

Crop a Photo at an Angle

The technique itself is very short. It goes like this:

  1. Open a photo. This technique works best when you have a little extra room in the photo beside the subject.
  2. Select your Crop tool.
  3. Click and drag to draw a crop area.
  4. With the crop area still selected, hover your mouse over the corner of the crop area. Click and drag to rotate. Be sure that none of your cropped corners leave the edges of your photo. When you are happy with the angle, double-click inside the crop area to commit.

Click for Larger

Note: The rotation direction you use is actually the opposite of the way your subject will point after you crop . So rotating the crop area clockwise (say to 2:00), will actually place your subject pointing at 10:00. So you might need to test the crop a couple of times. I find that a counter-clockwise turn to between 10 and 11:00 has worked nicely. Too little angle and it’ll just look like a mistake.

How easy is that! :)

You should use this technique AFTER doing corrections like levels/curves, B/W conversion, and other color corrections.

Use this technique BEFORE sharpening, though. You always want to sharpen as your last step. 

The best part of this is how well it combines with some of our other photo editing techniques.

Example 1 

For example,


I converted the photo to black and white using our technique from last week.

Then I cropped using this week’s technique, rotating the crop counter-clockwise to about 11:00 before cropping it.

I applied a Smart Sharpen (PSCS2), but if you’re using PSE, use Enhance > Unsharp Mask. If you’re using PSCS, use Filter > Sharpen > Unsharp Mask.

Example 2 

In this one, I cropped the photo from a horizontal to a vertical:


The only other editing I did here was a little brightening using Curves, and a sharpen, same as above. 

Example 3 

And lastly, this one combines several of our techniques. I started out here:


 I used the Dreamy/Handtinted tutorial to give the photo that handtinted look.

Then I cropped it at an angle.

Then I added the grungy border mask (filling in the bottom layer with a white background).

Then I added text to the photo.

I ended here:

 Now you can see that none of these photos were studio-quality portraits, but just snapshots of my kids. But using some of the techniques we’ve talked about before, we were able to make them into great photo creations. :) This is, of course, the Photoshop equivalent to holding your camera at a slight angle while you shoot. That way is preferable, because of how much extra room you need in the post-processing to get an angled crop. But for all my thousands of pics I took before I started doing this for some of them? This works great. It adds an energy and interest, activates the photo, and helps it feel more dynamic.

So your challenge this week is to take two or more of our photo techniques and wrap them up into a photo to improve it.

Can’t wait to see!

Oh, and while we’re on the subject of photos, I stumbled across this great little tip sheet from the folks at National Geographic for improving your adventure photos. But you know, these tips work great for chasing your kids or your dog around, too. :)


Have a wonderful last few hours of the weekend. Here’s to good health, inspiration, and great color calibration. :)