To Crop or Not to Crop. That is the question.

Discussion in 'Casual Photo Conversations' started by davidrosen, Jun 25, 2019.

  1. After reading the Images > Seeking Critique > Babie-face thread I thought about cropped photos. I crop most of my photos because of my method of shooting. They’re not planned shots, with a tripod setup, waiting for perfect lighting, framing the view from edge to edge. Often I don’t fully realize what I have captured until I have downloaded into the computer and studied the results. I may discover an area in the photo I want to zoom in on, and so I have to crop. When I do crop, I try to conform to the rule of thirds to end up with an intentional composition. One downside to my method is the obsession over megapixels is rendered moot (because of cropping). Whenever possible I try to keep it to a minimum. I’m always pleasantly surprised when I have a final image with no crop.
  2. Sandy Vongries

    Sandy Vongries Administrator Staff Member

    Trick is - get a film camera that works well, use slide film. Six to ten rolls, it will become perfectly clear.
  3. Me, too. But I don't see it as a goal and am just as happy when I come with a crop that works.

    Interestingly, the photo of mine you reference seemed to generate some passionate opinions in terms of my crop. It's a crop I don't particularly care much about and don't think it much affects the overall feel of the photo, at least to me. I cropped it more as a lark than for any essential reason. I actually cropped just the small jpg that I uploaded to PN, but left the larger print file in tact to give me flexibility if I wind up printing and displaying it. I do that with a lot of my cropping, because aspect ratio may become as important as specific crop at some later date.
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  4. I think Sandy has it exactly right. Shooting a lot of Ektachrome back in the day forced me to shoot it like I wanted it and I have maintained that for the most part.

    Rick H.
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  5. Different cameras have different sensor aspect ratios, which is a compelling indication that there’s no ideal format lurking out there. I’ve never seen a benefit to letting my images be constrained by someone else’s engineering decision (and yes, I used to “crop” my slides with opaque tape). I usually shoot with a particular crop or format in mind for an image, and it’s rarely the one that my camera tries to dictate.
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  6. I thought I wanted all my images to at least match the camera’s native ratio even when I crop. But 1) I think most digital cameras offer at least two aspect ratios (my MFT offers two); 2) Lightroom offers a handful of standard aspect ratios; 3) square often begs to be used sort of like a photo begging to be b&w when viewed originally in color. So perhaps it is the artist who decides and not the film or camera manufacturer.
  7. Actually, wouldn't the tendency to crop make the megapixel count more of a consideration?

    Anyway, I used to always try to crop in-camera, but often found that I wished I'd left a bit more room in the frame afterward for more flexibility, so now, while I still try to compose in-frame, I often leave a little more space "just in case." With digital, it just makes more sense than regretting that you didn't quite catch as much as that tree as you thought you had, for example.
  8. When I was printing in the darkroom, I would almost always crop and rotate the final print, made particularly easy by using a 6x6 negative carrier with integrated 'crop blades' for 35mm film (you use what you have). I've got a little out of the habit with digital, but in general, I need to crop more.

    I'd rather shoot at the max size the sensor offers, then crop later, despite the fact that I'd rather do everything else in camera. Just habit I guess.

    I only ever shot colour slide with a 6x6 slr, so it was rather a slow, delibrate process and I paid far more attention to composition, which is also something I need to do more these days.
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  9. I try to crop in camera as much as possible but often find out there is a more interesting tableaux buried in the image that I didn't see in the view finder. Exploring that buried image and cropping to come up with something completely different than what I originally saw is quite interesting (to me at least) and often I can make two images I like from one frame.
  10. Sandy Vongries

    Sandy Vongries Administrator Staff Member

    I crop carefully in the viewfinder, but on occasion find a completely different photo "buried" within the frame - I think of it as image mining!
  11. My past history is similar to Rick's but I.m thinking of exploring print options (relatively small prints) so I will have the chance to crop.
  12. Tony Parsons

    Tony Parsons Norfolk and Good

    Not trying to hijack this thread (I can see much of interest on 'both' sides), but to me, an ancillary issue is the 'cloning out' of unwanted detail or irrelevant material. Anyone any thoughts ?
  13. If we consider digital technology on the timeline with painters, Daguerre, and film, they all changed the methodology of art. Digital photography does not necessarily have to be a technique of “catch all” and then cull like the fisherman and his net, or the miner and his mining pan. Some photographers are very intentional and methodical. I wish I was more like that. But for now I have to cast my net.
  14. Of course this discussion goes waaay back.
    Here is a March, 1953, summary of an article in Modern Photography
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  15. I do what I want. Sometimes, what I consider the integrity of a given photo will suggest to me not to clone things out. Other times a photo just seems to be asking for it. I don’t approach photos with a one-size-fits-all mindset.
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  16. If cloning has to do with artistry, no problem. If it has to do with deception, big problem.
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  17. They're often not distinct. Sometime, artistry IS deception.

    With apologies in advance to Ludmilla (he's just so good at this!) :) :
    Seriously, though, I know what you mean. Deception in documentary or journalistic photos is problematic. Deception in art can be a problem but is also often also point, or at least part of the methoc. Moving pictures, indeed!
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  18. The problem with shooting wide and cropping later, is that you may have missed the best angle that can only be captured by moving the camera. Cropping afterwards will not change the perspective. Also, if you shoot wide, you're probably not paying attention to the aspects of what makes the shot better. So you may leave out that very thing that makes the picture work by moving the camera a half an inch over to the side. If you want your photos to improve, start framing in the camera.
    davidrosen likes this.
  19. We practice both art and science -- art as no rules! We crop to obtain the image that is our quest. Don't worry about the pixel count. Most if not all of your work will be viewed on a computer screen or a sister device. None of these are capable of displaying your image will all its pixels intact. In fact, most every image you put up on the screen will have been shaved down (pixels discarded) by the computers display software. In other words when eating a watermelon, don't let the seeds get in the way, just spit them out!
  20. "We practice both art and science -- art as no rules! We crop to obtain the image that is our quest" Alan

    And there you go. I might add with street photography its about the capture, and is often full of chaotic unwanted elements-hence the need to crop.

    "If you want your photos to improve, start framing in the camera." Someone.

    If you want your photographs to improve, listen and learn, on how to improve that photographic middle eye. The seeing.

    It is not about cropping or how expensive your camera simple is that to understand.
    Ed_Ingold and davidrosen like this.

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