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Author Topic: The "Art" of Cropping  (Read 17978 times)
Pete JF
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« Reply #20 on: February 02, 2007, 01:10:48 PM »
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When I shoot 35mm I try to use the whole frame as much as I can, I like the proportion and when im shooting im comfy in that box.

I also love the 4x5 proportion and when i shoot 4x5 I hold that proportion religiously.

I do crop though, sometimes the 35mm spec is to long for an image so i crop. if something is annoying me i'll crop it out. However, in 4x5, I always try to hold the strong, original proportions.

With my digital cam I crop like crazy...Im not sure why but i guess im totally grown into the other two ratios.

With regard to Michaels example of the "Cart" image. I think he got lost trying to accomodate that cart. I also think he was being to precious with his edges. A lot of people get precious with those edges IMHO. The edge is powerful thing and sometimes those balanced edges just kill an image...using the edge is important.

Yow, i messed with Michaels image and am posting it here. I feel that the most interesting part of this image is the  tension between the figures with the walking man being the real object of my attention. the two other figures relate to him as well in an almost foreboding way...plus the door at the end of the street, that door is a very important part of the image. This picture has a sort of potential for being creepy.

As far as color goes..I'm not a fan of big chunks of color without other colors present. For me, color has to have pretty good reason for being there...meaning...colors that are working together, or, causing some kind of tension or relationship to happen. I feel that color is mostly misunderstood in terms of relevance and actual theory by many photographers. IMO this image is stronger in black and white. The version i picked to mess with was Michael's conversion, though, i played with values and some burning and dodging. I notice that the flat light in a lot of those pictures needs a bit of help, adding some shading and stuff. IMO, of course

When the cart crosses the edge things start to get more interesting for me.

With crop:




Original:

« Last Edit: February 02, 2007, 01:22:53 PM by Pete JF » Logged
Robert Spoecker
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« Reply #21 on: February 02, 2007, 01:37:41 PM »
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When I shoot a 3 mega pixel camera I tend to want to crop in my view finder as much as possible and when I shoot my 5D I dont care as much as I can crop out a lot of 'real estate' and still print a nice larege image.

I did learn some time ago that prints with a lot of un interesting garbage is a lot worse that a tightly cropped shot at any aspect ratio.

Robert
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Ray
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« Reply #22 on: February 02, 2007, 04:23:42 PM »
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I didn't realise this thread was a response to Michael's latest article. Having now read the article, I see nothing there that's not good, sound advice. I crop all the time into all sorts of aspect ratios. I was even considering recently making an elliptical crop of a stitched panorama because I couldn't figure a neat and easy way of bringing the bottom edge into a straight line without messy cloning and/or obvious distortion, or without losing some features in the foreground which I wanted to keep.

Since most of us here are concerned with lens resolution and pixel count, it makes sense to maximise the number of pixels one will get in the final cropped image. The way to do this is to use a zoom lens. If the aspect ratio of the camera is not ideal for the subject, it helps to be aware of this factor at the time of shooting.

However, one practical disadvantage of cropping images to all sorts of aspect ratios lies in the printing. If you print from a 24" wide roll as I do, you can waste  paper trying to fit an assortment of different sizes images when they are all smaller than the width of the roll. However, I wouldn't recommend subordinating one's artistic sensibilities to such minor practical considerations   .
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Ray
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« Reply #23 on: February 02, 2007, 04:28:27 PM »
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Ray - what a hell of a spot to pick to have a beer!

Ciao - Rob  C
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Convenient, though!  
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simonr
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« Reply #24 on: February 02, 2007, 08:37:14 PM »
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Hi all,

I have a question on cropping:     do any of you simply crop to what you think works best, or do you crop and try to constrain the ratios/proportions to some formula ?

Thanks,
Simon
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John Camp
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« Reply #25 on: February 02, 2007, 10:19:40 PM »
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Hi all,

I have a question on cropping:     do any of you simply crop to what you think works best, or do you crop and try to constrain the ratios/proportions to some formula ?

Thanks,
Simon
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=98957\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

To what' s best, with some limitations.

I would have to think for a long time before I cropped something into a shape other than a rectangle; some people like ovals for portaits or even (occasionally) circular shots for landscapes, but I don't. That means accepting some extraneous or undesirable matter that might be eliminated with a non-rectangular crop. There are times when I would lose the edges of a photo, but I'd still want to see it on a rectangular form.

At one time, quite a few photos *were* round, because the plate simply showed everything that came though a lens; and you could make an argument, I suppose, that that's the most efficient use of a lens, if not of the photographic plate. But the general preference for rectangles (including squares) quickly asserted itself, maybe because of painting, which had a whole theory of the use of rectangles.

To use an analogy, beginning writers sometime obsess over the use of "he said" or "she said" in dialogue, finding, as they're writing, that it seems obvious and repetitious. But a reader really never sees those words, if they're skillfully placed; they're simply stage directions that the reader  unconsciously takes in as he absorbs the dialogue. I think the rectangle functions the same way -- it serves up the image on a culturally neutral background, orienting us to "up" and "down" and left-right, and, with perspective cues in the photo, to depth. Most rectangles, until they become extreme, will do that; if they become too extreme (as Oriental paintings sometimes do to the Western eye) then they become visible again, and are no longer neutral backgrounds.

JC
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Stephen Best
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« Reply #26 on: February 02, 2007, 11:29:22 PM »
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I have a question on cropping:     do any of you simply crop to what you think works best, or do you crop and try to constrain the ratios/proportions to some formula ?
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=98957\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

If you absolutely have to crop and you're doing it for exhibition etc, consider using the aspect ratio of the original. A set of images on the wall all with different aspect ratios says that either you're uncomfortable with your chosen format or the images have been overcooked in post-production. It's a giveaway that the photographer is a beginner in my books.
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Stephen Best
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« Reply #27 on: February 02, 2007, 11:46:59 PM »
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It seems absurd to me to try to jam any particular human composition into a 2:3 aspect ratio; most things just don't fit.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=98882\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Maybe manufacturers can sell the real estate of the ends of the frame as advertising. You just crop it off in Photoshop. This way everybody's compositions could improve and cameras would be cheaper.
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Jack Flesher
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« Reply #28 on: February 03, 2007, 10:10:48 AM »
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I agree that when capturing, we should try and use the maximum area of the sensor available to us.  

I also agree there is no point saving/printing distracting or otherwise undesirable elements in the image.

Corollary; leave at least one side full length when possible. And yet I agree that even that is not always possible -- like when the subject is too far away for your longest lens -- but feel one should at least strive for it when it is possible.

For me, this usually means some part of the long dimension of the 35 frame is going to get cropped out.   While I frequently leave the image at 3:2, I have standard crop panels for 4:3 and often crop to that -- and almost always crop to at least that from my 4x5 or 8x10 film scans. I also have 1:1, 2:1 and 5:2 crop frames, though I use them less frequently -- basically, it depends on the image and how I feel when I'm processing it.  

Cropping to fill standard inkjet paper sizes with reasonable borders also makes some sense to me,  though I get frustrated when trying to fit an image I regularly print on 17x22 paper into a 13x19 or 11x17 sheet.  I'd be curious how others handle that as I have resigned myself to leaving larger borders on the edges of those papers...

Bottom line is Michael's article makes perfect sense to me.  I see no reason to toss an image because you later realize you didn't frame it ideally from the outset.

Cheers,
« Last Edit: February 03, 2007, 10:12:48 AM by Jack Flesher » Logged

Jack Flesher
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« Reply #29 on: February 03, 2007, 10:17:02 AM »
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If you absolutely have to crop and you're doing it for exhibition etc, consider using the aspect ratio of the original. A set of images on the wall all with different aspect ratios says that either you're uncomfortable with your chosen format or the images have been overcooked in post-production. It's a giveaway that the photographer is a beginner in my books.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=98974\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

So are you suggesting if I capture a wide, six frame, 4:1 aspect ratio stitched pano with my DSLR, I have to crop it back to 3:2 when I display it?  Or are you saying if I were to choose to exhibit three images in that pano aspect ratio along with other "non-pano" images, it is a giveaway I am a beginner?

Cheers,
« Last Edit: February 03, 2007, 10:19:21 AM by Jack Flesher » Logged

russell a
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« Reply #30 on: February 03, 2007, 10:28:37 AM »
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If you absolutely have to crop and you're doing it for exhibition etc, consider using the aspect ratio of the original. A set of images on the wall all with different aspect ratios says that either you're uncomfortable with your chosen format or the images have been overcooked in post-production. It's a giveaway that the photographer is a beginner in my books.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=98974\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

That is if you want to conform to the abstract notion that a set of mono-narrative images that likely have been "overcooked" in the conceptual stage somehow represent maturity.  I see too many boring "body of work" sets of images where one decent idea/image is replicated with an accompanying set of diminished clones - in size and aspect ratio lockstep.  I would much rather see a set of images that has been treated (cropped, etc.) with attention to the particular narrative of each.  I guess any retrospective exhibit must smack of amateurism.
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russell a
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« Reply #31 on: February 03, 2007, 10:36:39 AM »
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Pete JF's example (above) of his approach to cropping Michael's image is excellent.  His crop yields a meaningful narrative that transcends mere documentation.  The viewer is given more meat and fewer springs of parsley from which to construct his own sense of narrative.
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Rob C
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« Reply #32 on: February 03, 2007, 11:06:38 AM »
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Convenient, though! 
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Thanks for that, Ray, first chuckle of the day!

Ciao - Rob C
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Jack Flesher
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« Reply #33 on: February 03, 2007, 11:08:25 AM »
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 Different strokes I guess -- I prefer the original. IMO the road is also an important element in that shot as a leading line into the people at the other end.

As long as we're on this image, I also liked MR's version that showed more of the small windows above the cart -- another leading line, but also a very interesting repeating pattern element.  Though the above "original" crop is probably my favorite version, I think it works well as a square too:

Cheers,
« Last Edit: February 03, 2007, 11:21:45 AM by Jack Flesher » Logged

Rob C
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« Reply #34 on: February 03, 2007, 11:33:01 AM »
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Hi - Mention has been made of the suitability or otherwise of the 35mm frame as upright portrait. This depends, somewhat, on what you deem to be portraiture. If you are willing to include waist upwards then it fits (for me) quite comfortably but with tight headshots it's a little more difficult and, if anything, works better if you cut in very tightly.  Frankly, with women as my principal subject, lowering the bottom edge of the frame down the model has yet to solicit complaint...

I'm also surprised that it seems some people imagine that in horizontal format there is almost always extra, unwanted stuff at the sides. Why should this be so? It's under your control at the time of shooting or, at least, it should be if you take enough care with what you're doing. Yes, of course there are difficulties if you happen to be doing shots of people in old factories or areas like that: the best light and background might well contain a pipe just where you didn't want it to be. But it can usually be incorporated  into the design as a plus. Fine, if all else fails, then crop at home, but don't look on this technique as being any healthier a norm than leaving rubbish lying about in shot just because Photoshop exists.

I can't take to the notion of zooms being a panacea for framing problems; I think there is a vast difference between getting one's butt into the right place and standing either too far away or too close to the subject and trying to correct by changing focal lengths. It's a tired old saw, but it seems people forget: perspective depends totally and solely on position. You don't change that by standing still and swapping focal length!

My advice - clearly self-offered so don't bother telling me that - is if you can't get to the right spot walk away. For the non-pro it's just meant to be fun.

Ciao - Rob C
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Jack Flesher
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« Reply #35 on: February 03, 2007, 12:44:48 PM »
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Yes, of course there are difficulties if you happen to be doing shots of people in old factories or areas like that: the best light and background might well contain a pipe just where you didn't want it to be.

Good point.  I'll go out on a limb and link to an album with some images like you are describing from a recent shoot, though no people. It contains a mix of full-frame (3:2), cropped 4:3 and these are shown in both portrait and horizontal orientation. Also there are a few 5:2 panos and even one square -- I think it is going to be reasonably obvious why I chose the crops I did for each image...  

ALL of these were captured with a 5D.  The lighting is weird because of the mix of lighting from various combinations of Sodium, Mercury, Tungsten, Fluorescent, daylight through cruddy windows or open doors, and the gas-fired kilns.  FWIW, the pano aspect ratios are all two frame shift-stitches. Click the thumbs for larger views:  

http://jack.cameraphile.org/gallery/view_a...bumName=album21
« Last Edit: February 03, 2007, 12:55:05 PM by Jack Flesher » Logged

larsrc
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« Reply #36 on: February 03, 2007, 01:06:32 PM »
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I can't take to the notion of zooms being a panacea for framing problems; I think there is a vast difference between getting one's butt into the right place and standing either too far away or too close to the subject and trying to correct by changing focal lengths. It's a tired old saw, but it seems people forget: perspective depends totally and solely on position. You don't change that by standing still and swapping focal length!

My advice - clearly self-offered so don't bother telling me that - is if you can't get to the right spot walk away. For the non-pro it's just meant to be fun.

Ciao - Rob C
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=99034\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

There's the too-infrequently mentioned corollary to that:  Your position totally and solely determines your perspective.  "Zooming with your feet" does not work for a lot of subjects, simply because you're not zooming but changing perspective.  Zooming is just an in-camera crop.

-Lars
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Jonathan Wienke
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« Reply #37 on: February 03, 2007, 01:24:21 PM »
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A set of images on the wall all with different aspect ratios says that either you're uncomfortable with your chosen format or the images have been overcooked in post-production. It's a giveaway that the photographer is a beginner in my books.

Or alternatively, that I've discovered that all images are not best presented in 4:5 vertical; some are best presented as 3:1 horizontal panos, or square, or even circles or ellipses. Consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds...
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howiesmith
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« Reply #38 on: February 03, 2007, 01:29:08 PM »
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There's the too-infrequently mentioned corollary to that:  Your position totally and solely determines your perspective.  "Zooming with your feet" does not work for a lot of subjects, simply because you're not zooming but changing perspective.  Zooming is just an in-camera crop.

-Lars
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=99043\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
From an article on dpreview:

"... changing the focal length while keeping the subject distance constant has—just like cropping—no effect on perspective."
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Jonathan Wienke
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« Reply #39 on: February 03, 2007, 01:30:00 PM »
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There's the too-infrequently mentioned corollary to that:  Your position totally and solely determines your perspective.  "Zooming with your feet" does not work for a lot of subjects, simply because you're not zooming but changing perspective.

Very true. Additionally, foot zoom isn't real practical when you're on a mountain ledge and need to levitate over a 500-meter drop to get a few hundred meters closer to the mountain on the other side of the valley, or need to back up through solid rock to get the entire thing in the frame. Zoom lenses are irreplaceable for such situations.
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