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Overlay Tools are just one of the hundreds of tools for photographers in Lightroom. In my Lightroom classes, the Overlay Tool is one that many don’t know about or use. I use it frequently to help me make the best composition for my images. There is a video at the end of this post, so you can see the overlay tools in action.

Instead of winging it through the composition portion of the editing process, use the Lightroom’s built-in overlay tools. To find these guides click on Tools then Crop Guide Overlay. You will see that Lightroom offers seven guides, Grid, Thirds, Diagonal, Triangle, Golden Ratio, and Golden Spiral. Lightroom also provides Aspect Ratio Guides. I usually know how I believe that the finished image should appear; it’s good to see what the potential is with other aspect ratios.

original

original

Let’s edit this Smooth-billed Ani!

I’ve made the basic adjustments, and now we need to polish the image by improving the composition. The first step is to bring up the Overlay Tools. Go to the Develop Module and click on the crop tool. You then use the O key to cycle through the available options.

I’ve selected the diagonal overlay tool because it is my favorite for birds.

Crop Overlay Diagonal Unaligned

Crop Overlay Diagonal Unaligned

The first thing that I see is the bright and out of focus foreground is a distraction. I will drag the edge of the crop overlay until that edge is gone. Then resize the image so that more emphasis on the bird than on the tree. Now, this is where the diagonal overlay helps. You should rotate the crop, so the bird’s body and the tail follow the diagonal of the guide. Next, I reposition the crop, so the bird’s eye is on the intersection of the diagonals.

Crop Overlay Diagonal Aligned

Crop Overlay Diagonal Aligned

This photo has another problem, and that is the shiny spot in the corner. I loathe bright shiny spots, especially on the edge of the image. The best way to fix that glaring (see what I did there) issue, it would be best to take the picture to Photoshop. It would also be best to show you how to fix that in another post!

Aligned Crop

Aligned Crop

Overlay Tool Video Tutorial

I hope that you found a new one to increase your images impact using the diagonal crop overlay tool. Leave me a comment and let me know how it worked or if you need more help. Do you have a photography topic that you would like me to explain, let me know, and I will add it to the queue.