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Author Topic: The "Art" of Cropping  (Read 16829 times)
dbell
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« Reply #80 on: February 05, 2007, 04:08:58 PM »
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In my opinion, cropping is  a visual tool, in the same category as burning or dodging. It can be overused, but it can also make an image stronger. I don't see it as an automatic sign of poor capture technique or poor visualization (although it CAN be indicative of those things, just as having to make tons of  tonal adjustments in printing CAN be, but isn't necessarily so). I like to print big, so I try to fill my frame with the  subject to the extent that I can. I can't always do it (don't always have the right lens, physical constraints,  blah, blah, blah) and there are times when I'll visualize an image as being square and having only a 2:3 camera, I'll make the shot knowing that I intend to crop it. I agree with the posters who have pointed out that edges are important and how we read them has a strong influence on the overall impact of a photo.  If  my approach bugs you from a philosophical standpoint, that's fine with me. Not everyone is going to like my work (cropped or not).

ANY technique can be overused or applied badly, resulting in a boring show or one I dislike. When I hang a show (or when I look at one), it doesn't bother me at all to have pieces in different formats if the overall visual effect works.

Finally, this argument (the one about whether or not cropping is a mortal sin) is as old as the hills. I've been hearing it for as long as I've been talking to other photographers, and I doubt if anyone is ever going to agree on much of anything .


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Daniel Bell
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BJL
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« Reply #81 on: February 05, 2007, 04:09:39 PM »
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The point I was attempting to make was that I have historically used the frame "I had with me at the time" to generate most of my more successful images...
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Thanks for the clarification.  But I have to ask: what do you think you would do if you had a 24x36mm format camera in hand and needed to take a "head shot"? Would you make it fit 3:2 shape and suggest something like an 8"x12" print, despite usual aesthetic preferences of a somewhat squarer shape like 8x10" for such images? I know I also find myself trying to compose to fit the frame in hand, especially with 35mm film where my initial framing often has dead space at the sides, but that it does not always work.


Looking at the works of Ansel Adams (who worked with cameras in aspect ratios 3:2, 7:5, 4:3, 5:4 and 1:1) I see an intermediate tendency: print formats tend to follow film formats to some extent, with prints from 4x5 and 8x10 cameras typically squarer than those from 5x7 or 35mm cameras, but there is also a significant amount of shape changing in the cropping. In fact, I see a similar trend in all my photographic books: a substantial proportion of images from 24x36mm film are cropped to various shapes somewhat different than 3:2. Most often less wide shapes such as 7:5 or 5:4, but with some going in the more "panoramic" direction.
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howiesmith
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« Reply #82 on: February 05, 2007, 04:29:46 PM »
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... I have to ask: what do you think you would do if you had a 24x36mm format camera in hand and needed to take a "head shot"? Would you make it fit 3:2 shape and suggest something like an 8"x12" print, despite usual aesthetic preferences of a somewhat squarer shape like 8x10" for such images?
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Maybe put a hat on them to make their head w/hat more 2:3,

or modify their head shape with a hammer.

Or if the person had an 8x12" frame and really wanted a portrait to fit it, explain the effects and give them what they wanted.  There may be many reasons a person would want a print shaped differently than their photographer.
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jani
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« Reply #83 on: February 05, 2007, 05:03:57 PM »
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There may be many reasons a person would want a print shaped differently than their photographer.
I certainly wouldn't want a print shaped like my photographer, he was a bit too chubby.
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Jan
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« Reply #84 on: February 05, 2007, 05:10:05 PM »
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I certainly wouldn't want a print shaped like my photographer, he was a bit too chubby.
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Let me change the quote: "There may be many reasons a person would want a print shaped differently than their photographer's choice."

Sorry about that.
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Jack Flesher
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« Reply #85 on: February 05, 2007, 05:41:02 PM »
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what do you think you would do if you had a 24x36mm format camera in hand and needed to take a "head shot"?

I think that is a perfect example of when I might consider cropping my DSLR to 4:3 or 5:4 -- but as I stated earlier, I would strive to fill up the 24mm dimension with relevant image data so nothing needed to be cropped out of those sides AND most likely include more neck and shoulders than I thought I needed for the final image to give me the most flexibility with after-the-fact cropping
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Ray
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« Reply #86 on: February 05, 2007, 07:35:06 PM »
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I just had a thought about another visual art - painting.  Painters as far as I know, select a canvas (size, aspect ratio) while planning the painting.  They paint to fit the image onto thecancass.  Also as far as I know, they start with a plan, rather than just pick up a brush and start painting.  I assume the plan may change from time to time, but never outside the lines.  And I would be surprised if the orange crate became a canoe.
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There was an interesting TV series I saw recently hosted by the Australian ex-pat painter/entertainer, Rolf Harris, where each week a small group of contemporary painters were invited to paint a well known celebrity. The group of painters, usually about 3, would be different each week as well as the celebrity. The painters would begin their portraits in the TV studio, then take a number of snapshots of their subject (with camera), go home and finish the painting to be presented the following week to the viewers and the elebrity who would make the difficult choice as to which he/she liked best.

Quite often, a painter would change plans. Scrap his/her initial effort and start again. Considering the long, deliberative process of painting and the many corrections that are often made along the way before the painting is finished, I think it hardly surprising that an 'art' photographer might have second thoughts about a mere cropping issue.

Some of you guys are making a mountain out of a molehill.
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John Camp
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« Reply #87 on: February 05, 2007, 10:34:43 PM »
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I watched the Super Bowl yesterday.  The quarterback didn't just tell the center to hike the ball and I'll figure out what to do next.
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You must not have been watching the Chicago offense.  

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I just had a thought about another visual art - painting.  Painters as far as I know, select a canvas (size, aspect ratio) WHILE [emphasis added] planning the painting.  They paint to fit the image onto thecancass.  Also as far as I know, they start with a plan, rather than just pick up a brush and start painting.  I assume the plan may change from time to time, but never outside the lines.  And I would be surprised if the orange crate became a canoe.
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I'm primarily a painter. The key word in your notion is "while." I actually paint on furniture-grade plywood. I work out a painting in advance with pencil and paper, drawing little thumbnails of the concept. Sometimes it's easy, and a particular landscape will dictate a particular approach or aspect ratio. Sometimes it's more difficult. In any case, I buy sheets of plywood and cut it with a table saw and then finish the edges, and coat it with gesso, and have, a few times, gone back and recut after trying to work out a particular painting. So while I always work in rectangles, the actual aspect ratio is almost infinitely mallable.

JC
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BJL
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« Reply #88 on: February 06, 2007, 09:09:05 AM »
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I think that is a perfect example of when I might consider cropping my DSLR to 4:3 or 5:4 -- but as I stated earlier, I would strive to fill up the 24mm dimension with relevant image data ...
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makes sense to me of course.

But I am posting to refer back to the photo in post #70 in this thread by Pete JF.

For those who do not know, the image in the marked crop is the rather famous final product. Only years after I had seen that portrait many times did I see an exhibit which shows the original (medium format) frame from which it was made.

What atrocious planning! Not only did the photographer end up cropping massively, wasting so many "silver halide pixels", but he even got the orientation wrong, and had to rotate the crop.

Never mind: we can all make our own choices about if, when, where and how to crop.

At least this thread has not indulged the silliness of suggesting that images must all conform to the shapes and sizes of available printing papers. (Very few of my B&W prints from 24x36mm film on on 8"x10" paper end up either 3:2 or 5:4 shaped.)
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