Preparing Images for Presentation – Mark Pedlar

Cropping, Sizing and Borders

You’ve completed the photo shoot and selected your best images from the total harvest. You may have made modifications to the basic image using one of the many software packages available. Contrast, exposure, highlight and shadow details are now maximised and any sharpening done. Now there are a few final adjustments to be made before display your print or project your digital image. You may need to trim off (crop) portions off the image that you feel detract from its impact . Where your image is destined for projection it may be necessary to reduce the number of pixels vertically and horizontally to fall within the limitations of the projector. Finally you may wish to surround your image with a margin or border. This is particularly the case with projected images where you need to distinguish the image edge from the background.

Cropping – Photoshop

Untitled-1Most software packages have a cropping function. In Photoshop select the rectangular marquee icon on the left of the screen. Then open the ‘Normal/Fixed Ratio’ window above the image. Normal will allow you to drag the cursor across the image and select any shape rectangle. Contained within that will be the portion of the image you retain.

1If you select Fixed Ratio you can then select the dimensions of that ratio. 3 x 2 is the traditional 35mm shape and 3 x 4 is the more recent digital shape. This enables you to retain the original shape of your image. You can see a fixed ratio line of marching ants in the screen dump on the left. Then go to – Image/Crop and your photo will be cropped as seen below.


Cropping – Gimp

Other software packages offer the same feature and follow much the same process. Gimp priced ideally on the net at $0.0 uses the Image term on the toolbar to crop. In this case I can find no fixed ratio tool but you can check aspect ratio with the pixel count on both X and Y axes, see left below.


Cropping – Irfan view

In Irfan view drag your cursor diagonally across the image to select the crop you need, go to Edit on the toolbar and select Crop selection – see below


Image Size

Image sizing refers to adjusting the number of pixels used to display both the vertical and horizontal dimensions of the picture. A high definition JPEG recorded by a modern single lens reflex camera could well be 5184 pixels wide by 3456 pixels high. However, the projector may only be able to satisfactorily display a maximum of 1400 pixels wide by 1050 high. So, to show your image properly you’ll need to resize it – reduce its detail and complexity.

Resize – Photoshop

Again, several software packages will do this for you. In Photoshop go to Image and then Image size (see right). By typing into the blue highlighted cell you can select the number of horizontal pixels  you need. As long as the chain link symbol to the right of that is closed the corresponding reduction will occur in the vertical value and retain image shape. Also remember that if you have a vertical image it can still be only 1050 high. So, set this value first and the width will now be 700. At the base of that sizing window you have the opportunity to adjust the DPI (dots per inch) of your image. If this is called for, do it first as this will also have an effect on image size in pixels. If you set DPI last your image will be reduced in pixels yet again below the 1400 x 1050 you were trying to achieve.


Resize – Irfan View

Irfan shown on the left looks slightly different but offers the same service. You can still adjust pixel number and retain aspect ratio and again you need to adjust DPI first if you are required to do so. Many competition formats no longer ask you to conform to a particular DPI number.


Resize – GIMP

GIMP, shown on the left refers to this process as Image Scaling. So select Image on the toolbar and in the drop down box choose Scale Image. The process is the same and once more you can link both horizontal and vertical values to retain shape.



In this case there are several different routes, even within one software package, to achieve the result you want. So let’s look at a simple route in Photoshop CS5.

Borders – Photoshop CS5

Open an image in PS CS5. then open your layers palette. There you will see the Background layer, Click on the background layer and while still holding the mouse down drag the layer down to the Copy layer icon which is a small square within a  larger square (next to the Rubbish bin) then release the mouse, you’ll see a grab hand when you’re over the copy icon. With the copy layer active click on Edit from the selection bar at the top of the screen.


From the drop down menu select “Stroke”. You will now see the Stroke selection window. Select the size of the border in pixels you wish to make and then select a colour by clicking on the colour block. On the “Location” select “Centre” and leave the Blending at Normal and the Opacity at 100% for solid colours then click OK. Your border will be applied then you can save your image.


With this method one can place more borders as well, say we make a border 20 pixels wide in one colour and then apply another border in another colour at 19 pixels or less as long as it’s smaller than the first border.


By adjusting the blending modes and the opacity many styles of border can be achieved. By the way, to use this method you have to make a copy of your image for the Stroke selection to become active otherwise the word Stroke will be greyed out and unavailable.

Borders – GIMP

GIMP operates through a system of changing canvas size (this process is also available in Photoshop but seems more complex than that above). From the toolbar select Image and then canvas size. Note the number of pixels in each direction at the start( see image on the left) and increase each dimension by 40 pixels. This will give you a border on each side of 20 pixels.


Just one more point here. If you use this latter system and you had already re-sized your image to comply with projection needs, you will now need to repeat the re-sizing to return to the stipulated 1400 x 1050 stipulated.


Finally, thanks to Eric Budworth who provided the method of creating borders in Photoshop. The text about that item is also his. It is a much simpler system than the one I had been using.