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This week’s Compose Yourself Photo Challenge (CCY) Theme is Cropping.   As of January 2016, this challenge runs on the 2nd and 4th week of each month.  Challenges will be open for two weeks.

5-gold-starsFor your weekly assignment I would like to see at least 4 cropped photos showing the before and after results.  Please describe what you learned in this lesson as well.

Each week I will select several features from everyone who submits an entry.  And from those posts that I feature, I will grant one blogger the Gold Star Award.  To find out who was awarded the Gold Star Award and Features for this week, please see CCY Features Week #14 Symmetry.

Note:  Participants who do not have at least 4 photos showing their attempt at this week’s topic in their post will not be featured nor be considered for the Gold Star Award.


Cropping – My Most Powerful Tool

My favorite and most powerful tool is cropping.  Rarely do I publish a photograph that isn’t cropped, at least a little.  Cropping can take a mediocre photo and make it good, and a good photo and make is great.  Not always.  But it is true more of the time then not.

Cropping is the first step in really being creative with your photography.  You don’t have to know how to do fancy post-edits or have expensive software.  Cropping can dramatically change the feel of a photograph with little time, effort and money expended on your part.

Here are some handy rules for effective cropping:

  • Take multiple shots, especially if there is a lot of background noise in the picture.  Tighten your focus for one shot.  Move out a little for the next, then a little more.  Digital memory is cheap, so use it to your advantage.  You can never predict what is a picture that you can crop to more dramatic effect, so give yourself plenty of “canvas” to work with.
  • With digital cameras, always have your resolution set to fine detail.  You want to grab as many pixels as possible, so that you can crop a picture down to a quarter of its original size, for example, and still have beautiful detail.
  • When cropping, remember your Rule of Thirds and the other ideas of good composition we’ve been talking about.  Think about what you want your subject to be and how to highlight it, then crop the picture to get things just the way you want them and WHERE  you want them.

Now let me show you where I’ve done some cropping and let you know my thinking during the editing process.

012616crop MacKenzie originalIn this photo of MacKenzie I thought she was just so adorable.  I happened to have my camera next to me and I knew if I got up and walked to get a close up shot of her, she would move.  So I settled for a photo that had a lot of “noise” in it.  I knew I could crop this photo because my camera was set for a fine resolution.  This photo was taken about 7 years ago with a Sony Point and Shoot.

Here is the cropped version.

012616crop MacKenzie

012616crop seagull originalWhen taking photos of seagulls that are flying, or in this case looking for food Chris was throwing out, it is hard to capture them in a good spot on your photo.  So I tend not to zoom in too closely and if I get a clear shot, I can then crop to what I feel gives me the best photo.

Here is my final result.

012616crop seagull

012616crop hands originalIn my first two photos I made some dramatic crops.  In this photo of with the woman’s hand spinning, the crop wasn’t as significant, but I think there was a dramatic difference, because it really focus on the strength and artistry of her hands.  Note that the bobbin on the spinning wheel on the right bottom corner is spinning quite fast.

Here is my final result.

012616crop hands

012516crop column uncroppedChris took this next photo with her wide angle lens on her Nikon D60.  She loves the wide angle effect.  I did the post processing on this photo.  Chris decided she wanted to crop the cars and she wanted the Astoria Column more centered.  Although the Column still looks a little off because she took the photo at a slight angle, if you follow the side walk.

Here is here results.

012516crop column

Here are some other examples that I found.  Simply click on any photo to see them full-sized.


Old Barn

Deranged Charlie

Upcoming Challenges

  • #16 Complementary Colors (starts 2nd Wednesday of February)
  • #17 Contrasting Colors (starts 4th Wednesday of February)
  • #18 Geometry (starts 2nd Wednesday of March)
  • #19 Balance (starts 4th Wednesday of March)

Qi (energy) hugs


60 replies »

  1. Your cropping on all of these makes such a difference! I love the photo of deranged Charlie – so cute!

    I don’t do much cropping because I can’t crop off much without losing image quality. I was excited to read what you said about setting your camera to fine resolution because I thought that might solve my problem. But I checked and it’s already on fine. :/ I’m going to have to do some research and play around a bit to see if I can get more crop-able images.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Yo no tengo ni idea de fotografía y cámara es una de esas digitales pequeñas y planas tan grande como mi teléfono móvil, de 14 pixels y buen tiene un poquito de zoom, modo automático para hacer las fotos (que es el que utilizo) y modo manual para que fijes tú los parámetros. Aparte de esto es adorable la foto del bulldog durmiendo. Me gusta mucho el primer plano de la gaviota. Gracias Cee. margarita141


    • Fortunately I learned early on to pull back and leaving me a little more canvas to work on. I think what helped me was doing floral macros. I needed the space to get the center of a flower where I wanted it. Plus I tend to be real steady taking photos, so I could zoom in and still get a sharp macro.


  3. You might guess that the seagull and your baby are my favorites…Amazing how clear and unblurred the seagull is!!! I’ve been shooting and cropping since I first saw your prompt, but haven’t had time to post–plus kept losing the pics. My earlier problem with the photos not being saved in my photo library was solved by Apple support staff, then once again, a few days later, the same problem reappeared. It turned out that the first time it was caused by some glitch in photos but the second time it was my fault–because I was trying out my new underwater camera and the date was set wrong so they were filing them with pictures from over a year ago. I never would have figured this out!! Amazing that two separate things in a 4 day period would be responsible for the same malfunction. A coincidence. So, hope it is okay to post a few more crops!! Must be harvest time.


  4. Hi Cee.
    Thank you for this post about cropping. I use cropping as my main editing tool because my hands shake so much when using a long lens I find it easier to take wide angle shots, less shake, and crop. However,, and this may say something or a lot about me, I have never heard camera club members talk about cropping and in three years of blogging it is the first post I have read about cropping.
    Again thank you.


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