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Author Topic: What size should a picture be?  (Read 2282 times)
dreed
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« on: July 27, 2009, 08:55:25 AM »
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I've been looking at some pictures I've taken on a HDTV and coming from a 4:3 camera, there's a little bit of vertical black strip thing happening with most pics.

That leads me to want to crop them to fit the 16:9 display it has...

But then if I want to look at a picture on a computer monitor, that's 5:4 or 8:5 (e.g. WUXGA)

And then there's the size of paper - different ratios again!

Sometimes a picture is only right in one size but sometimes there's a desire to fill the entire screen (or piece of paper..) because the subject is well centred and it's just a matter of how much ... trimming to remove.

Ideally I'd like to create just one set of jpegs or "to print" picture files, but I'm starting to wonder if that's too naive on my part.

What do others make of this conundrum?

Are there any software packages (or file formats) that allow you to store a "recipe" for rendering a picture from a raw file that contains different instructions depending on what the output device is?

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walter.sk
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« Reply #1 on: July 27, 2009, 09:22:27 AM »
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Quote from: dreed
I've been looking at some pictures I've taken on a HDTV and coming from a 4:3 camera, there's a little bit of vertical black strip thing happening with most pics.

That leads me to want to crop them to fit the 16:9 display it has...

But then if I want to look at a picture on a computer monitor, that's 5:4 or 8:5 (e.g. WUXGA)

And then there's the size of paper - different ratios again!

Sometimes a picture is only right in one size but sometimes there's a desire to fill the entire screen (or piece of paper..) because the subject is well centred and it's just a matter of how much ... trimming to remove.

Ideally I'd like to create just one set of jpegs or "to print" picture files, but I'm starting to wonder if that's too naive on my part.

What do others make of this conundrum?

Are there any software packages (or file formats) that allow you to store a "recipe" for rendering a picture from a raw file that contains different instructions depending on what the output device is?

I really try to compose in the camera, and when I work on an image I try to make every pixel contribute to the over-all effect.  As a result, I don't like cropping good information out of an image.  (Of course, if I am printing to a certain aspect ratio, I have to go back on this principle.  If I know ahead of time that I will have to end up with a 3:4 or 4:5 aspect ratio rather than my camera's 2:3 I will try to shoot with lots of extra around the image so that what I wanted will still be there after the crop.)

When it comes to producing images for the web or peopl's monitors or TV screens, if they are images that are already worked on, I leave them at 2:3 and hope that they will be shown to "fit the screen," meaning that the longer dimension will just fit the screen.  This of course will leave black borders on the other 2 sides, but I find that preferable to cropping out part of the image or "stretching" the image to fit the whole screen.

On the other hand, if I am doing a digital slide show for specific output, I will find a complementery, nondescript border for all of the images, that will fill the screen in that format, if it is different from my camera's aspect ratio.

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feppe
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« Reply #2 on: July 27, 2009, 11:07:19 AM »
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This is a common question which you'll hear as many preferences as there are respondents. It's also a somewhat controversial subject, and some have almost religious convictions

Many photographers adhere to their camera's aspect ratio diligently, these seem to be mainly fine art photographers. Others shoot for a certain end-use® preference, especially those who shoot for magazines. I think those who crop each image differently depending on the end use® are in the minority, though, and most prefer to have just one crop of each image. Reason for that is that even a seemingly trivial crop which doesn't cut any subject matter from the frame might have a big impact in how the image is perceived.

As for me, I'm a brütal cropper: I ignore all format-dependent aspect ratios, and crop to whatever aspect ratio each image "requires," wholly dependent on my eye for composition. I use my cameras' native aspect ratio only occasionally (ie. I crop almost all my shots vertically and/or horizontally), and I almost never use screen or paper aspect ratios. This means there will be black or white edges around my images in whatever form they are presented in, but I'd rather have those than let myself be constrained by set aspect ratios - which to me are artificial, arbitrary and not helpful in producing good images for my purposes.
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JeffKohn
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« Reply #3 on: July 27, 2009, 11:31:50 AM »
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5:4 monitors are pretty rare these days, aren't they? The only screen resolution I can think of is 1280x1024. Most computer displays are 3:4 or 16:10, with the latter steadily taking over.

I've standardized on a handful of print ratios: 3:2, 4:5, and the occasional square (3:2 being the most common since that's the format my cameras shoot). I usually have one of those in mind when composing. Having a few standard formats makes matting and printing much easier, especially since I like to rotate out prints and reuse the frames/mats.

I don't worry too much about computer/TV display. People should be used to seeing black bars on the TV when watching wide-screen content. Besides, it's not really a photograph until you print it.
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cmi
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« Reply #4 on: July 27, 2009, 12:19:28 PM »
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Just know you aspect ratio beforehand. You could automate a batch workflow for different aspects, but for what purpose? At the end you have to make the decision if something works or not.
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bill t.
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« Reply #5 on: July 27, 2009, 12:30:10 PM »
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Quote from: dreed
Sometimes a picture is only right in one size but sometimes there's a desire to fill the entire screen (or piece of paper..) because the subject is well centred and it's just a matter of how much ... trimming to remove.
Think about using roll paper.  You can get any ratio you want, any time!  Rolls are much cheaper than sheets.  If your printer isn't set up for rolls you may be able to cobble together a simple roll holder thing above your printer, or cut sheets to length as you need them.

The only thing wrong with the "any ratio" paradigm is that you can easily fall outside the rather unimaginative set of standard picture frame ratios.  Squarish is just so blah.

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JeffKohn
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« Reply #6 on: July 27, 2009, 12:43:17 PM »
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Quote from: bill t.
The only thing wrong with the "any ratio" paradigm is that you can easily fall outside the rather unimaginative set of standard picture frame ratios.  Squarish is just so blah.
On the other hand if you have any hopes of selling prints, I would think the 'any ratio' approach is going to be pretty annoying to customers. I just don't see the point in cropping an image to 3.1:2 or 5:4.05 when 99% of the time it will make no difference if you had cropped to 3:2 or 5:4. Using only a single format for every image could be limiting, which is why I've standardized on 3 ratios for standard images, and additional ratios for panos (usually 3:1 or 2.5:1). That still gives me a quite a bit of compositional flexibility, but makes matting and framing a whole lot easier.
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joedecker
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« Reply #7 on: July 27, 2009, 12:46:01 PM »
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Quote from: dreed
What do others make of this conundrum?

I'm not religious about it, but I tend to compose pretty tightly in-camera, which means that most of my own images end up as 3:2 and staying that way.

I would suggest that you not worry overly much about the dimensions of people's monitors if you're talking about displaying your images over the web.  Not only do monitor aspect ratios vary, but their effective ratios change even more when you add the space the browser and operating system take up.  Even worse, most folks aren't going to full-screen your images, and they put their browser windows in all manner of different window sizes, and most users find attempts to change those sizes to be annoying or worse.

--Joe

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Joe Decker
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Chris Sanderson
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« Reply #8 on: July 27, 2009, 01:10:14 PM »
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also remember that video pixels are not square...
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Christopher Sanderson
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« Reply #9 on: July 27, 2009, 02:49:04 PM »
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Quote from: ChrisSand
also remember that video pixels are not square...
They are on HDTV's, unless you have one of those funky 1366x768 panel displays. 1080p displays have square pixels.
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Chris Sanderson
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« Reply #10 on: July 27, 2009, 03:45:05 PM »
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Yep, strictly HD is no problem - it's the older NTSC & PAL SD conversion that gets weird. Pixel Aspect Ratio (PAR) might more properly be in a separate thread - but for the technically curious there is a very good analysis of video aspect ratio challenges on this page. Perhaps it suffices to say, that the conversion of stills & graphics to various video formats is not straightforward  
« Last Edit: July 27, 2009, 03:52:35 PM by ChrisSand » Logged

Christopher Sanderson
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