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Author Topic: History of The Religion of Cropping ?  (Read 596032 times)
RSL
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« Reply #20 on: May 10, 2009, 08:55:27 PM »
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Quote from: k bennett
Does anyone else recall that Hasselblad used to advertise their square format cameras specifically for cropping after the fact? -- Shoot square, then crop out a vertical for the cover, or a horizontal for the inside spread. Infinite flexibility. Here's a quote from a 1993 NYT article:

"Ernst Wildi, technical director of Hasselblad in the United States, is a champion of the square format. He says 120 roll film gives a photographer more film area for higher-quality results than 35-millimeter and allows one to shift easily -- with a little cropping -- to making either vertical or horizontal pictures from the square format. He likes to point out that internationally known photographers like Mary Ellen Mark and Greg Heisler are Hasselblad users."

Not many beginners using 'Blads back then. I used the Bronica SQ-A, great camera.

I can understand -- sort of -- this bias against cropping if we're talking about landscape or architectural photography. Camera, tripod, locked down, with a careful and almost obsessive attention to every detail. And this is The Luminous Landscape, and many members shoot that sort of work.

But I find it laughable that so many responses here basically say the same thing: that anyone who crops is by definition a bad or beginning photographer. Tell that to old Ernst, why don't you....

Kind of makes the $30,000, 50 megapixel Hasselblad sound like a loser against the $8,000, 24 megapixel Nikon D3X if you're going to crop away half the Hasselblad's pixels to turn a square format into a rectangular one doesn't it? Wouldn't it be better to use the D3X? After all, it has a vertical release built in, and it's a heck of a lot easier to flip the camera to vertical than to hassle with post-processing cropping.
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Jonathan Wienke
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« Reply #21 on: May 10, 2009, 09:29:26 PM »
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Quote from: dalethorn
Those who crop regularly are probably taking a lot more photos of a bigger variety of subjects.

i.e. the inverse of the quoted statement is: "People who rarely crop are usually concentrating on getting that "one good shot" and miss many opportunities that other photographers are taking advantage of."

B.S. Paying enough attention to what is going on around you so that you can frame the shot reasonably tight does not prevent you from taking advantage of a photographic opportunity. You are more likely to capture something interesting if you are sufficiently in tune with the action to frame a decent capture than if you merely point the camera, machine-gun the motor drive, and hope to crop something interesting out of the resulting mess. I've been known to shoot well in excess of 1,000 frames at a wedding or concert, but most of the time I crop only to change aspect ratio. It is a rare thing for something "interesting" to happen while I'm shooting without getting at least one reasonably good shot of it. If you are paying attention to what's going on around you, most of the time you can anticipate the "decisive moment", and the fraction of a second it takes to tweak the zoom setting and double-check focus does not impede you from nailing the peak of the action, whatever it is.

3 Principles Of Being An Excellent Photographer
1. Know your gear intimately, inside and out. Making the correct adjustment for any given situation should be instinctive. If shooting conditions change, you should know whether changing ISO, aperture, or shutter speed is the best option, and why. You should be familiar enough with your gear to make those changes immediately, so that you aren't missing an opportunity while attempting to figure out how to adjust a setting. The less time you spend futzing with your gear, the more time and attention you can devote to observing what is going on around you and capturing it well.

2. Know your subject just as intimately as your gear. Anticipating action is critical if you expect to photograph it well. Knowing what is going to happen before it happens give you time to prepare yourself and your equipment so that when the time comes, you are already there and all you have to do is press the shutter release. If you're shooting an event, go to the rehearsal if there is one. This will not only give you some excellent opportunities for candid shots, but it will also allow you to test various camera settings and shooting strategies, rehearse the sequence of events so you can find the best shooting location for each part of the ceremony, and iron out any conflicts between what you are doing and the expectations of the client, venue staff, and other participants. Learn as much as you can about the cultural significance of what is going on, (like the significance of changing shoes at a quinceanera); this will help you recognize and anticipate significant moments so you are ready to capture them when they happen. Learn as much as you can about the people around you; the presence of a particular person my be much more meaningful if you know that they are significant to what is going on. For example, if you are shooting a Black History Month event, knowing that that old guy sitting in the back is one of the Tuskeegee Airmen will probably affect how you shoot the event and enhance your client's satisfaction with your work, especially if you're an albino cracker like me.

3. Have a backup plan. You'll eventually need it. All your skill and creativity as a photographer mean exactly dick if something quits working and you have no backup plan. Don't even think about shooting a wedding or similar event where "do-overs" are not an option without one. Having backup equipment is expensive, but the pain in your wallet is much less than the pain you'll experience the first time you have an "oh s**t" moment in the middle of a wedding ceremony and haven't even shot the formals yet. You should be able to take any piece of gear you have, light it on fire, and still successfully complete the job.
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Jonathan Wienke
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« Reply #22 on: May 10, 2009, 09:46:55 PM »
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Quote from: k bennett
Does anyone else recall that Hasselblad used to advertise their square format cameras specifically for cropping after the fact?

You are being intentionally obtuse here. I specifically stated that cropping for the purpose of achieving a print aspect ratio different from that of the camera is not what I am arguing against. You can't change aspect ratio without cropping; in such cases, cropping is a necessary evil.

And yes, if someone shooting with a D3X shoots tightly framed and gets 20MP into the final print, and another photographer with the Hasselblad shoots sloppy and ends up cropping away all but 15MP of the capture, the print from the lightly cropped D3X capture might well be better than that from the heavily cropped 'Blad. And the 'Blad shooter would be a fool and a loser for doing so. While MFDBs tend to be more square than 3:2, there is no reason to crop away half of the original capture to get a 16x20" print.
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dalethorn
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« Reply #23 on: May 10, 2009, 11:52:00 PM »
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Quote from: Jonathan Wienke
B.S. Paying enough attention to what is going on around you so that you can frame the shot reasonably tight does not prevent you from taking advantage of a photographic opportunity. You are more likely to capture something interesting if you are sufficiently in tune with the action to frame a decent capture than if you merely point the camera, machine-gun the motor drive, and....

No B.S. at all.  A, I don't use a motor drive (signature says LX3 and ZS3), and B, you can't claim that framing shots carefully to minimize cropping can allow you to look around as much as someone who sees what they want but doesn't spend extra time framing carefully.  That's just plain absurd.  That's the same as saying the guy who's shooting from a tripod is as flexible as someone shooting freehand, to catch a bird flying by, or a deer jumping across the road.  Just plain absurd.
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dalethorn
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« Reply #24 on: May 10, 2009, 11:58:09 PM »
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Quote from: RSL
Dale, Those who are capable of framing what they actually want in their pictures are just as likely to shoot a series of shots as those who aren't quite sure what they want and keep banging away, hoping something worthwhile will turn up. That's exactly why, when he was evaluating the work of people who wanted to join Magnum, Cartier-Bresson always looked at contact sheets instead of individual prints. Contact sheets told him whether or not the photographer had a clear idea of what he was after. He and Magnum weren't interested in people who tried to make things work out from a fuzzy approach after the fact.

Straw man argument. I never claimed I don't look carefully and "bang away".  I look just as intently as anyone, but I don't waste time getting the edges of the frame "exactly right".  No need to - I just allow a little extra around what I want so I don't have to waste time.  Your argument is like saying it's better to fold the napkins exactly precisely in half so they don't look unsightly, or make sure the labels on the cans in the cupboard are aligned exactly, in case someone thinks they look sloppy.

Now I'm not so dumb as to argue that there is NO reason to *ever* frame very precisely, but, certain habits have a way of turning into compulsions.
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pegelli
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« Reply #25 on: May 11, 2009, 02:49:34 AM »
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I think a any print (AA called it the performance) should be solely judged on it's qualities as a picture, not on the means it was produced. So if this involved some cropping so be it.
I think a general statement like "people who crop don't know how to take good pictures" is as useful as saying "I never believe people who make general statements"  
« Last Edit: May 11, 2009, 02:51:36 AM by pegelli » Logged

pieter, aka pegelli
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« Reply #26 on: May 11, 2009, 08:04:55 AM »
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I always try to fill the frame with a well composed image.  In fact I have the opposite problem, where often I have not left enough room around the image I wanted to account for some overlap when matting.  On the other hand, I was also taught, early in my film days, to take a pair of L-shaped pieces of cardboard and play with my negatives after the fact, to discover pictures I had not thought of or seen when taking the picture.

I do not consider post-shoot cropping to be "making up for a shooting deficiency" nor do I consider always filling the frame in the camera to be the proof of "the best photography."  I do both, and I am sure many others do, as well.  I do resent having to throw pixels away when I crop to correct what I should have seen in the first place, but I have many final images that came from suddenly seeing something in a small part of the image, even years later, that all of a sudden spoke to me.

My motto when it comes to cropping is to be flexible rather than arbitrary and rigid.
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Dick Roadnight
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« Reply #27 on: May 11, 2009, 08:37:10 AM »
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Quote from: RSL
Kind of makes the $30,000, 50 megapixel Hasselblad sound like a loser against the $8,000, 24 megapixel Nikon D3X if you're going to crop away half the Hasselblad's pixels to turn a square format into a rectangular one doesn't it? Wouldn't it be better to use the D3X? After all, it has a vertical release built in, and it's a heck of a lot easier to flip the camera to vertical than to hassle with post-processing cropping.
I find the proportions of the 50Mpx (8,175 * 6,132) Hasselblad very acceptable, but my preferred format is "one to the square root of 2", partly as it exactly fits A1 and other A-sized paper: the 35 mm 24:36 would be very nice for 24 * 36" paper.

Panoramic normally means wasting half or more of your res, or panning and stitching and distorting and cropping... and not getting much more res that you would have done if you had not bothered... but the logical solution is to use a sliding stitching back and nearly double your res without having to distort or crop.
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Hasselblad H4, Sinar P3 monorail view camera, Schneider Apo-digitar lenses
bill t.
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« Reply #28 on: May 11, 2009, 02:27:55 PM »
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I just now opened the drawer with the old Kodachrome slide in it.  That's where I got my attitude towards cropping.  Frame it in camera, or weep!

That was back when photographers were real men.  Moma don't take my Kodachrome away.  They used to know me by name at the Kodak Hollywood Kodachrome plant, my shop was a short walk away.  What a luxury...same day Kodachrome!  Didn't need no stinkin' CF card!


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Jonathan Wienke
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« Reply #29 on: May 11, 2009, 03:09:31 PM »
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Quote from: dalethorn
B, you can't claim that framing shots carefully to minimize cropping can allow you to look around as much as someone who sees what they want but doesn't spend extra time framing carefully.  That's just plain absurd.

I do claim exactly that; framing tightly so that little or no cropping is necessary (other than the minimum needed to match the aspect ratio of a given print size) and consistently capturing action going on around you are not mutually exclusive. The key is to be intimately familiar with your equipment and what is going on around you so you can capture the moment quickly when it arises. When I decide to shoot something, I can bring the camera up, zoom in/out as needed to get the framing I want, focus, and take the shot in about two to three seconds. If I already have the camera up, even less time is necessary. But even shooting that quickly, most of the shots I take (>90%) are well-focused and composed, allowing me to choose the "keepers" on the basis of the artistic/creative merit of the selected images, rather than their technical merit. IOW, the choice is made on the basis of things like the subject's facial expression or most interesting moment of action, not which shot is the least misfocused. Obviously, if I am shooting a static subject or waiting for a particular moment, I reserve the right to take more than three seconds to capture the image. But in the great majority of situations, I can consistently get a technically and artistically competent capture requiring <10% cropping (excluding aspect ratio changes) in <3 seconds if I had to. It's not absurd, it's simply being competent.

If you can't consistently capture an arbitrary image in less than 3 seconds from the time you recognize the opportunity to shutter release, you need to practice with your equipment more. If necessary, practice with your equipment on a regular basis. 3 seconds may not sound like a lot of time, but with practice and responsive gear it is easily doable. If you are using a digicam that takes 3 seconds or more to lock focus, practice anyway; if you have to wait for the camera, it is even more important that you minimize the time the camera is waiting on you.
« Last Edit: May 11, 2009, 03:11:02 PM by Jonathan Wienke » Logged

dalethorn
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« Reply #30 on: May 11, 2009, 04:40:38 PM »
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Quote from: Jonathan Wienke
I do claim exactly that; framing tightly so that little or no cropping is necessary (other than the minimum needed to match the aspect ratio of a given print size) and consistently capturing action going on around you are not mutually exclusive. The key is to be intimately familiar with your equipment and what is going on around you so you can capture the moment quickly when it arises. When I decide to shoot something, I can bring the camera up, zoom in/out as needed to get the framing I want, focus, and take the shot in about two to three seconds. If I already have the camera up, even less time is necessary. But even shooting that quickly, most of the shots I take (>90%) are well-focused and composed, allowing me to choose the "keepers" on the basis of the artistic/creative merit of the selected images, rather than their technical merit. IOW, the choice is made on the basis of things like the subject's facial expression or most interesting moment of action, not which shot is the least misfocused. Obviously, if I am shooting a static subject or waiting for a particular moment, I reserve the right to take more than three seconds to capture the image. But in the great majority of situations, I can consistently get a technically and artistically competent capture requiring <10% cropping (excluding aspect ratio changes) in <3 seconds if I had to. It's not absurd, it's simply being competent.
If you can't consistently capture an arbitrary image in less than 3 seconds from the time you recognize the opportunity to shutter release, you need to practice with your equipment more. If necessary, practice with your equipment on a regular basis. 3 seconds may not sound like a lot of time, but with practice and responsive gear it is easily doable. If you are using a digicam that takes 3 seconds or more to lock focus, practice anyway; if you have to wait for the camera, it is even more important that you minimize the time the camera is waiting on you.

I don't have any disagreement with this.  Looks like your initial disagreement (the 'BS' comment) was based on your misunderstanding.
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Guillermo Luijk
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« Reply #31 on: May 11, 2009, 04:59:51 PM »
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Cropping is not desirable as a rule. It will reduce image's resolution and also considerations about the pre-visualization of the scene and the good photographer (already commented in the thread) can be made against cropping.

But cropping can also benefit us or even be necessary under some circumstances, I don't see any problem in cropping in a clever way.

In fact sometimes not-cropping can lead to worse consequences than cropping:
- If you are quick shooting over a scene, allowing some extra room around the subject assuming some cropping can prevent us from loosing important information of the scene.
- If you are using a prime lens, to have the perfect field of view can mean have an undesired point of view. Cropping allows to have both FOV and perspective.
- If you are not generating final images, but images that will be used by third parties (a graphic designer for instance), they will be pleased that you allow some extra room around each subject to crop according to the final print format.

If you have a good lens, and a high resolution camera (>20Mpx), there is no reason at all to care about the drawbacks of cropping.

BR


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RSL
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« Reply #32 on: May 11, 2009, 08:53:35 PM »
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Quote from: dalethorn
Straw man argument. I never claimed I don't look carefully and "bang away".

Actually, that's exactly what you said, and I quote: "I use small cameras, but still crop. Cropping is very valuable because I can spend much more time in the field looking for possible images and capturing "around" them a dozen different ways..."

Quote
I look just as intently as anyone, but I don't waste time getting the edges of the frame "exactly right".  No need to - I just allow a little extra around what I want so I don't have to waste time.

When you see and understand what you want from a scene you don't "waste time" getting the edges of the frame exactly right. You do that intuitively. I understand that people who haven't practiced their art sufficiently to be able to do that intuitively may have to resort to winging it, and hope something worthwhile will show up in post-processing, but it's always worth your time to work on that deficiency until you can frame your pictures correctly.
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RSL
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« Reply #33 on: May 11, 2009, 08:55:44 PM »
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Quote from: Jonathan Wienke
I do claim exactly that; framing tightly so that little or no cropping is necessary (other than the minimum needed to match the aspect ratio of a given print size) and consistently capturing action going on around you are not mutually exclusive. The key is to be intimately familiar with your equipment and what is going on around you so you can capture the moment quickly when it arises. When I decide to shoot something, I can bring the camera up, zoom in/out as needed to get the framing I want, focus, and take the shot in about two to three seconds. If I already have the camera up, even less time is necessary. But even shooting that quickly, most of the shots I take (>90%) are well-focused and composed, allowing me to choose the "keepers" on the basis of the artistic/creative merit of the selected images, rather than their technical merit. IOW, the choice is made on the basis of things like the subject's facial expression or most interesting moment of action, not which shot is the least misfocused. Obviously, if I am shooting a static subject or waiting for a particular moment, I reserve the right to take more than three seconds to capture the image. But in the great majority of situations, I can consistently get a technically and artistically competent capture requiring <10% cropping (excluding aspect ratio changes) in <3 seconds if I had to. It's not absurd, it's simply being competent.

If you can't consistently capture an arbitrary image in less than 3 seconds from the time you recognize the opportunity to shutter release, you need to practice with your equipment more. If necessary, practice with your equipment on a regular basis. 3 seconds may not sound like a lot of time, but with practice and responsive gear it is easily doable. If you are using a digicam that takes 3 seconds or more to lock focus, practice anyway; if you have to wait for the camera, it is even more important that you minimize the time the camera is waiting on you.

Exactly! Or, as HCB said, "Photographing is nothing. Looking is everything."
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RSL
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« Reply #34 on: May 11, 2009, 08:57:04 PM »
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Sorry -- double post.
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John Camp
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« Reply #35 on: May 11, 2009, 09:55:42 PM »
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I almost always agree with Jonathan, but in this case I think he's wrong. (But not utterly wrong.) There are a number of assumptions built into what he is saying, and they are (1) resolution is more important than composition. I think is almost never the case. (2) That good composition on any subject can be forced into whatever frame you're carrying that day -- square in some cases, 2x3 in others, 4x5 or 6x7 in others, and all you have to do is maneuver around a little. I think that is almost never the case. (3) That when you crop, you throw away a huge proportion of the pixels. I think that's almost never the case, unless you're cropping from square to something else (a big problem with the square format) or you're too lazy to switch your camera orientation. (4) He's also implicitly suggesting that nature (or at least the external world) should dictate to the photographer. I think most artists go the other way around - they take from the world what *they* wish, and that usually involves cropping. The real world doesn't necessarily come in 2:3 bites. Sometimes times it's necessary to take a 1:5 photo with your 2:3 frame.

...and Jonathan concedes this when he says it's sometimes "necessary" to make a few trims. Well, yes. Isn't that what we're talking about? We really weren't talking about unnecessary or frivolous trims. We're talking about trims that help the photo more than the extra resolution will help it.

He's not utterly wrong because the idea of cropping in camera, as a goal (but not a requirement) will get you the most usable pixels; when you see your composition, you fit as much of it as you can. Then you plan for a crop. You PLAN for a crop because that is the way you'll get the most final pixels.

And, I think most people know all of this. The full-frame idea is simply a worthwhile consideration that some people have hardened into a rule; but a foolish one, IMHO. It's as if Rembrandt were required to paint only on sizes and shapes dictated by some clerk in the canvas factory.

JC
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Jonathan Wienke
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« Reply #36 on: May 11, 2009, 10:02:12 PM »
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Quote from: dalethorn
I don't have any disagreement with this.  Looks like your initial disagreement (the 'BS' comment) was based on your misunderstanding.

So was it your evil twin or an alternate personality that wrote these?

Quote
i.e. the inverse of the quoted statement is: "People who rarely crop are usually concentrating on getting that "one good shot" and miss many opportunities that other photographers are taking advantage of."

Quote
B, you can't claim that framing shots carefully to minimize cropping can allow you to look around as much as someone who sees what they want but doesn't spend extra time framing carefully. That's just plain absurd.

There is no misunderstanding here; you are clearly stating that you believe that photographers who compose in-camera and frame so that little or no cropping is needed later miss more shooting opportunities than those who shoot "loose" and crop heavily later. I disagree strongly with that notion, for the reasons detailed in my previous posts.
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dalethorn
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« Reply #37 on: May 11, 2009, 10:41:31 PM »
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Quote from: RSL
Actually, that's exactly what you said, and I quote: "I use small cameras, but still crop. Cropping is very valuable because I can spend much more time in the field looking for possible images and capturing "around" them a dozen different ways..."
When you see and understand what you want from a scene you don't "waste time" getting the edges of the frame exactly right. You do that intuitively. I understand that people who haven't practiced their art sufficiently to be able to do that intuitively may have to resort to winging it, and hope something worthwhile will show up in post-processing, but it's always worth your time to work on that deficiency until you can frame your pictures correctly.

In legal situations, this is called being argumentative.  You understand my intent clearly yet continue to beat a dead horse.
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dalethorn
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« Reply #38 on: May 11, 2009, 10:51:40 PM »
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Quote from: Jonathan Wienke
So was it your evil twin or an alternate personality that wrote these?
There is no misunderstanding here; you are clearly stating that you believe that photographers who compose in-camera and frame so that little or no cropping is needed later miss more shooting opportunities than those who shoot "loose" and crop heavily later. I disagree strongly with that notion, for the reasons detailed in my previous posts.

Again, argumentative.  You either have an obsession with "getting it perfect" or an obsession with winning an argument (of some kind). The simple answer is, you line up a good shot the best you can based (in my case) on 40 years of shooting experience, and then fix the imperfections in the lab. The details aren't so important to know here - nearly every lurker here knows them. I make process mfg. software for customers who lose 95 percent of their raw material on the way to making a finished good, and other customers who lose only 5 percent.  Is one more right than the other?  It's absurd to say so without knowing what they're making (usually secret) and how much they're selling it for.  If I crop a lot because it's serving my artistic vision, who are you to say it's wrong?  If you have a technical point, make it, but you can't make such final judgements as you're trying to, because you simply don't know enough.
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ErikKaffehr
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« Reply #39 on: May 11, 2009, 10:54:44 PM »
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Hi,

My view on cropping is that there no need to be religious about it. Some cropping is necessary.

1) The aspect ratio doesn't fit the media
2) The subject requires some kind of extreme aspect ratio. What I call semi panoramics are a good example of that. I often shoot more frame and stitch rather than crop in order to preserve pixels.

My suggestion is essentially: Compose in the viewfinder. Crop if cropping improves the picture. Learn from misstakes.

A final note: 3:2 or 4:3 are not optimal aspect ratios! Each subject may need it's own aspect ratio. With the arrival of HD 16:9 is a new aspect ratio we need to learn to live with.

Best regards
Erik


Quote from: Melodi
It seems that there must be some history that I'm missing regarding the comments from those who like to compose with the view finder versus those who like the freedom of cropping later.  

I've heard and read comments about the conceit of those who like to use the view finder and don't like to crop later.  I even heard some strong opinions on this in an LL instructional video.

I feel it to be a very different experience and do prefer one over the other, and I must add, this is at this time in my life and experience...Things change.  

I don't see any need for regarding one or the other as a correct or incorrect way or consider people in either group to be conceited or not conceited, and certainly don't exclude people in either group as artists.  

I'm just curious, is there some history to these strong opinions that I'm not aware of?
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