The 8 x 10. As a photographer, you either love this print size or you hate it. As much as I want my clients to purchase larger prints and canvases for their walls, the 8 x 10 nearly always makes it into the final order somewhere. Most generally because it’s a gift for Grandma who already has an 8 x 10 frame in which she switches out the old print for the new one. And she’s been doing it that way for years. Sure, they could buy her a new frame, but then it won’t match all the other grandkids’ frames.
So, you are going to have to crop a photo. Now, if you already shoot with this in mind, cropping for the final print will be easy. For example, with a vertical headshot, I use the center focus dot on the eyes and that leaves plenty of room at the top to crop away. But every once in awhile, I get carried away and fill my frame with the subject(s). And inevitably, that’s the photo my client wants to give to Grandma. Cropping to an 8 x 10 is going to cut off limbs in very awkward places, so what to do?
You can solve this dilemma in Photoshop in 3 easy steps. I’m using Photoshop CS5 Extended.
1. Extend the Canvas
Select your cropping tool and set the dimensions for an 8 x 10 at 300 resolution.
Using one of the corner bounding boxes, drag the cropping frame beyond your photo. You can center the image by clicking and dragging until you have the frame where you would like. Then click the checkmark at the top to apply the crop.
This is what you’ll end up with:
Now we need to fill in the white spaces we have created. I usually try Content Aware Fill first. To use this tool, you will first need to select the area you want to fill with either a lasso tool or the rectangle marquee tool. Just for the purposes of illustration, I’m going to quickly select the entire left side.
Next, go to Edit>Fill. A little box will pop up. Choose Content Aware from the menu and click OK.
Depending on your photo, this is either going to look great, or it’s not. This method worked pretty well for the sides. (There are some obvious areas duplication, but we can use the clone and patch tools to hide that later.)
For the top of this particular photo, we will need to use a different method since the parents’ heads are so close to the edge.
Using your rectangular marqee tool, select a bit of the top left corner. Once your area is highlighted with the little marching ants, hit Ctrl+C, and Ctrl+V to create a new layer containing this selection.
Now with the Move tool, drag the copied area up into the white space. With this photo, we will need to move it over slightly to match up the lines in the barn siding. Repeat this process with the other side. (Make sure you go back to the background layer before you try to copy again.)
For the area directly above mom and dad’s heads, select the small bit of barn with your rectangular marquee tool and copy and paste as before to create a new layer. Then hit Ctrl+T to activate the Free Transform tool (or choose Edit>Free Transform from the menu bar). Move the selection up into the white space matching up the bottom edge. Then click and drag the top middle bounding box to stretch and fill the remaining space. I actually did this twice using two smaller selections to fill and then stretched each just a little to minimize distortion.
Flatten the layers (Layer>Flatten Image).
3. Clean Up
Now it’s time to disguise the obvious duplicated elements in the photo. First, create a duplicate of your Background layer. (In the top menu, go to Layers>Create Duplicate Layer. Or hit Ctrl+J.) Depending on your photo, you can use a few different tools to fix the area you want to disguise.
Spot Healing Brush
I used the Spot Healing Brush to remove some of the nails and knots in the barn siding simply clicking on the spot I wanted to remove. I also brushed over the harsh lines where the fill area met the original top border of the photo.
I ended up using the clone tool to match up some of the lines in the siding that were just a bit off as well as the area where the siding met the ground on the right side. With your clone tool activated (100% opacity and 52% flow) and holding down the Alt (Opt on a MAC) key, sample an area of the photo with the same tone and depth of field. (You don’t want to clone a blurry part of the photo into an area of sharper focus, etc.) Then click over the area you want to cover. Re-sample and click as needed.
For the spots in the grass, I used the Patch tool. (Right-click on the Band-aid icon to bring up the other healing tools.) Use your lasso to select the spot you want to remove, then click inside the selected area and drag to a nearby spot that you want to sample. This works best in small selections.
Once everything looks good to you, flatten and then save as a new file. Make sure you change the file name so that your original file is still intact.
The 8 x 10 “After”
A child and family photographer in Akron, Ohio, Adrienne Zwart is a nature-loving mom of three amazing kids and one fluffy cat who thinks she’s a dog. Visit her website or follow on Facebook and Pinterest.
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