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How To Rotate The Crop Orientation In Lightroom

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Unless you’ve managed to frame your image perfectly, you’ll probably use the crop tool in Lightroom often while editing your photos. When you rotate the crop in Lightroom, it can improve the image’s composition or provide a better orientation for social media.

Luckily it’s as easy as pressing a single button to rotate your crop orientation to unlock more cropping options for your images.

Let’s talk about how to do it in Lightroom Classic and Lightroom CC.

Changing The Crop From Landscape To Portrait In Lightroom Classic & CC

Using a quick trick, you can easily change the crop tool’s orientation between landscape and portrait mode. This method works for both Lightroom Classic and Lightroom CC. You may use this process in addition to cropping and straightening photos in Lightroom.

While working in Lightroom Classic’s Develop module, you can find the Crop Tool between the Histogram and the Basic panels.

In Lightroom CC, you can find the Crop Tool in the toolbar on the right.

Once you’ve selected the Crop Tool, the Crop panel will open, and the crop overlay will appear on your image (the below examples are in Lightroom Classic, but the same applies to CC).

Now, to change the crop orientation, press the X key on your keyboard. The orientation will switch. For instance, the X key will change the crop overlay to the portrait orientation if you’re working in the landscape orientation.

You can switch back to the other orientation by pressing the X key again.

You also want to ensure that you’re considering aspect ratio while working with the crop tool because the aspect ratio will remain the same as you switch between orientations. 

The aspect ratio is the width in relation to the height of an image. If you want to change the aspect ratio, you can head to the Crop Panel. You can select a new aspect ratio by clicking the drop-down arrows across from Aspect.

You’ll see the different options for aspect ratios you can select for your image. 

Click one, and the overlay will change to match that aspect, regardless of the orientation. For instance, if I’m working in landscape orientation and select the 16:9 aspect ratio, the overlay will reflect 16:9 horizontally.

If you press the X key to switch the orientation, the aspect ratio will switch to 9:16.

If you want to maintain this aspect ratio while cropping, click the lock icon to close it. It should look the same as the icon below.

How To Crop & Straighten A Photo In Lightroom

You may be looking to straighten an image rather than change the orientation completely. You may also need to straighten an image after changing the orientation. 

Within the crop panel, Lightroom features an easy-to-use straightening tool so that you can slightly adjust the angle of your image (below examples are taken from Lightroom Classic, but the same method applies to Lightroom CC.)

In CC, the slider is also in the Crop Panel.

To use the slider, click the toggle and drag it to one side or the other. 

If you’d like, you can click Auto, and Lightroom will automatically straighten your image. This is usually quite accurate, though it may prove less accurate if your image doesn’t feature many straight lines.

To make your changes permanent, you can either press the Enter key on your keyboard or leave the crop panel. The crop overlay will be removed from the image, and your changes will be applied.

Why Would You Need To Change The Crop Orientation?

There are a few situations where you may want to change the orientation of your image. For instance, some social media platforms favor photos that are in portrait orientation. 

If you’re planning to post a picture on platforms where images are primarily viewed on the phone, like Instagram, you may prefer to save your image in portrait orientation. Similarly, you may need your image to sit in a specific orientation for print or display purposes.

Another reason you should change the orientation is to improve the composition. Some photos may look better in portrait orientation, while landscape may look best for others. Perhaps you shot the image horizontally, but the subject stands out more in a vertical orientation. It depends on each photo and how you composed it when you took it. 

The only tricky part is when you want to make a portrait photo landscape, since it drastically reduces the size of the image and can reduce quality too. To fix this, you can try these methods in Photoshop to extend backgrounds and not lose quality when changing your crop orientation.

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I'm a Canadian photographer and photo retoucher turned founder of bwillcreative.com. Around here I help you to decode the mystery of photo editing with no-fluff videos and written guides to help you achieve your creative goals. Outside of shooting photos and my passion for educating, you'll find me mountain biking or on the trails with my dog, Sunny!

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