More on cropping

I know that this post is only a couple days after my last one but during the current 52Frames challenge “Fabric” the idea of a good crop applies. Here is the image that I submitted for this week’s challenge.

Scarves shot in studio, 60s @ f20

For this image I took two of my wife’s scarves. My first challenge was how to display the scarves in a way that would provide a good photo. After some digging around in the studio I decided that a studio light with a beauty dish would make a good hanger.

After I had them hung I had to decide the best way to light them. I decided to use the beauty dish light at the absolute lowest power output. Then to help light the front of the scarves I used another studio light with a 30 degree grid.

Because of the amount of light that was still being put out by the lights I had to go with a much higher f-stop. To get a tight shot on the fabric I used an 80-200mm lens at 100mm setting.

Ok, so by now you’re probably asking yourself “So what does all that have to do with cropping?”. Well during the post processing I decided that an 8″x10″ crop ratio gave me the area and detail that I wanted but the lines of the scarves were straight up and down. That is when I decided to rotate the image along with the crop.

With a bit of a vignette to help draw attention to the center of the image I’m very happy with the shot. Hope you found this article of use. Feel free to let us know what topics you would like to see in the future.

Cropping for effect

After last week’s challenge for 52Frames it got me thinking about how cropping can make or break a photo (in my humble opinion). I think most people, at least those not familiar with the art of photography, tend to think of image sizes in the most common sizes (4″x6″, 5″x7″, 8″x10″ and so on). I suspect that this is primarily driven by the availability at the local merchandise store of these common frame sizes.

Let’s start this discussion with a look at the original image that I submitted for the challenge.

Original image – uncrossed

The basic proportions of the image from the camera are 8″x12″. As you can see from this image the main subject, Pikes Peak, seems lost in-between the foreground prairie and the sky. Bearing in mind that the mountain is our primary subject let’s start looking at the more common crops.

Cropped to 6″x4″

In the image above we begin to bring more focus on our subject, however there still seems to be a disproportionate amount of foreground and sky to our subject.

Cropped to 7″x5″

In comparing the first crop to this one you can see that all we’ve done is add one inch to both the width and the height. This is obviously going the wrong direction for what we’re trying to achieve. Cropping to the next common size, 8″x10″, only makes the issue worse

Cropped to 10″x8″

For a sweeping landscape such as this I lean towards crops that are twice as wide as they are tall. For the final image I used a 20″x10″.

Cropped to 20″x10″

Here the subject has a very nice mix of foreground and sky compared to the subject. You’ll also notice that the mountains are not directly center in the image (think Rule of Thirds).

Final thoughts

As you can see the way that your crop your images can have a dramatic impact on the final image. One could say that maybe I should have used a longer lens. While that is true, the fact still remains that any cropping would have given the same effect.

When I first started in photography I was taught to crop the image in the view finder. Experience has taught me that this is not always the best practice. For as you see, if you crop in the view finder you’re likely to limit your options for cropping during post processing. Because of this and the fact that today’s cameras produce such high resolution images I shoot a bit wider. That said be careful not to lose focus on your main subject.