I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately on the subject of cropping photos and while there are some photographers that subscribe to the unwritten rule that you should never have to crop a photo because a good photographer always gets the image right in the camera – I am definitely not one of those photographers! Yes I crop my photos and yes I understand the caveats that cropping comes with when it comes to printing images and I’m okay with that. I treat cropping a photo as just another editing tool that I have available to me to make the final image that I present the best that it can be. Here’s a few examples of using cropping to improve the final image…
I shot this great blue heron image in my canoe. I had the camera pointed to the right shooting something else when my husband called out that a heron was coming in from the left. I swung the camera around, focused and fired off a few shots. I figured that the resulting image was going to be blurry but I was pleased when I got back to my computer, zoomed in and saw the heron was nice and sharp.
But the problem is that it’s in the wrong place in the frame. I prefer to have more space in front of the bird rather than behind and it’s a little lost against all that white sky (it was a very cloudy overcast day) so I decided to change the composition by cropping the image.
Yea I know, a pretty severe crop right? But the final image is way better than the original. Now because I cropped so much of the sky out, printing this at 16″ x 20″ probably won’t be an option and I’m okay with that. It’ll look just as nice as an 11″x 14″ print and it looks great viewed on screen.
Here’s another example:
This image was also taken from my canoe. I saw this mute swan swimming around with her baby on her back but I didn’t want to get too close so I shot from a pretty good distance even for my 600mm lens.
I was thrilled when the baby popped his head up for a second and was lucky to get this shot but the resulting composition is just not pleasing to my eye. So I cropped it to make it better.
Cropping off a bit from each side improves the overall composition and helps draw your eye to the baby nestled on her back. I think it works much better this way than in the original shot.
Here’s one more example:
Another cloudy overcast day resulted in a nice image of this little yellow warbler against a lot of white sky. The yellow warbler is a very small bird so they don’t take up a lot of room in the frame and I think in this case it looks lost against all that white background.
So I cropped the image just slightly:
Taking just a little bit off the top and the left edge puts more of the focus on the bird and helps the overall composition of the image.
So here’s my take on cropping your photos – go right ahead and do it but keep these tips in mind:
1: Cropping an image is going to highlight any out of focus, noisy or blurry elements so make sure that you are working with an image that is nice and sharp.
2: For best results shoot in RAW or if you have to shoot in .jpg then make sure you are shooting in the largest file format that you can. (read your camera manual!)
3: Cropping is going to change the size of your image so keep that in mind if you are going to want to print it.
You can view (and purchase) the images in this post here on my website.