TN001 cropping photographs on the computer
Ali Lindley's talk on painting from photographs involved selecting the part of the photograph to be painted using a pair of L shaped masks made from mounting board. This requires a fairly big print especially if cropping down to a small part of the photograph. Ali also used the 'rule of thirds' to help position the cropping area to come up with a reasonable composition.
Since we are all using digital cameras it can be an advantage to do this cropping in the computer and then make a print of just the area you want.
I use a freeware program called Faststone Image Viewer (www.faststone.org/FSViewerDetail.htm) for much of my photographic work and its cropping tool is the best I have come across. It has two main advantages, the outside of the crop area can be dimmed from full brightness down to full black, I have it about half way which allows me to see the rest of the picture without being too distracted by it. The second feature is the superposition of a 'rule of thirds' grid which automatically adjusts as the cropping is changed. Click on the image to get a full size view.
The cropping can either be freehand or to a fixed ratio, a selection of ratio and sizes are built in but you can add your own which can be useful if you use a fixed selection of paper sizes.