#26 in the Judging a Photograph Series
Cropping is pretty much the most basic photo editing action, but there’s a lot you can do to an image. If you’re a regular reader of my blog then you will know that I rarely leave my photos alone SOOC (straight out of camera). In my view photography isn’t just the bit where I click the shutter, it’s also the vision I have for the finished image. Sometimes I have that vision when I take the photo, sometimes I come up with an idea later when I see it on the computer.
Editing is not tampering, it is purist photography. Why? Because since the dawn of photography there has been a developing process after the shutter has been clicked. Post processing skills are an essential part of becoming a better photographer.
Best Cropping Thoughts
I’ll just ease myself gently off my soapbox now because I’d like to share some ideas about cropping.
If I need to crop a photo, then it’s about finding the stand-out image within the original image. To do that I mainly look for
• the rule of thirds
• the image edges
• the action
• strong lines and perspective
• errors to remove
My shot of families trying to cross stepping stones on the river Wharf at Bolton Abbey has lots going on. The main action in the image is the Dad helping his little girl to leap the gap. I want this to be the focus of the final image so I want to place this to suit the rule of thirds, i.e. one third of the way into the image from an edge.
The line of stepping stones goes the full width of the shot and marks out where the action is taking place, so I want this to be on a third line as well. As with nearly all my photos, I have shot it slightly wonky (I think I have right-hand dropsy). I have to straighten this up when I crop.
On the left hand edge is a man looking out of the frame, backwards. That’s a distraction as he’s pointing away from the action so I will crop him out.
On the right hand edge of the frame is a couple sitting on the bank, watching the family in the centre. Their viewpoint frames the image nicely and if I can leave them in, I will.
At the top of the frame are people on the hill, I would prefer not to crop their heads off even though they are very far away. Lastly the foreground contains a nice reflection and it would look a hundred times better if I left that in.
Which Crop is Best?
When I crop an image I need to think about where it is going. The original size on this camera is 6×4 and that’s a common printing size. Instagram looks best square. Pinterest and mobile phones in general usually work better with tall, thin images. Sometimes I like to crop letterbox style, wide and thin, if the image just looks better that way.
It’s a long list of cropping shapes but the wonderful thing about this Bolton Abbey stepping stones image is that ALL of these crops work.
Which crop do you prefer? Please let me know in the comments.
This is number 26 in the Judging a Photograph blog series which has now been running every Sunday for half a year. Wow, that’s a lot of blog posts! If you have enjoyed my blog then please sign up for the mailing list to get an email each time I publish. Sign up in the sidebar, or if you’re on a mobile then you can find it below.
The series continues with Number 27 about Eye Contact.