How to Crop Baseball Photographs in Lightroom

Yesterday I posted four photographs from the Pleasant Valley baseball game I photographed. It was a late night and so I picked four favorite photos to share. Today I’d like to show you how I cropped two of these photographs to give you an idea on how you can crop baseball photos to enhance them and make them look better.

Let’s start with this photograph.

It’s not a bad photo but we can make it better. The nice thing is it shows the second baseman making a play with the baseball in the frame. This is a peak-action shot. There are some problems though. First, the top of the fence is bright yellow and distracts from the main subject–the player fielding the ball. Secondly, the foreground has grass and then dirt. This first patch of green grass is also distracting. So let’s crop down to eliminate the yellow on top of the fence and crop up to eliminate the first patch of grass. I prefer to have Lightroom display a grid when I am cropping to show me a graphic display of the rule of thirds. When I am not cropping a photo, I don’t like to see this overlay because it can be distracting. I set up Lightroom to only show this grid when I am actually cropping a photograph.

To set this up in Lightroom, go to the Develop module and make sure the Toolbar is displayed by pressing the “T” key. This toggles back and forth between the toolbar being displayed. Once it is displayed you will see “Tool Overlay” in the bottom left-hand side of the editing screen. Click on the double arrows and choose “Auto.” Now the grid will only display when you are actually cropping a photograph.

Here is the cropped photo alongside the original photo. Do you think the cropping made a difference? Which photograph do you prefer?

Okay, now let’s look at another example. This is a photograph of a pitcher on the mound delivering a pitch. The first image has some obvious problems. The first baseman can be seen on the right edge of the photograph. There are also two brighter rectangles near the top of the photo that I think are somewhat distracting. Besides these problems, I’d like to crop in tight to really show and highlight the face of this pitcher in the middle of his windup. Here are the before and after photos.

I am posting this last image to show that cropping is sometimes a bad idea. This photo shows a base runner sliding into home. I was first tempted to crop this image because of the coach in the right upper corner. His white shorts I thought were distracting. However, upon further reflection, I liked that the baseball bat on the left side and the ball on the right side of the image were both important to include in this action photograph. So ultimately I decided that cropping this photograph was a bad idea and simply left it as it was.

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