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CCYL 14: Cropping – My Most Powerful Tool

Since most of us are stuck inside our homes or yards, I decided to rerun a series I did several years ago, called Cee’s Compose Yourself Lesson (CCYL).  This is not a challenge, but I suggest you play with new ideas or ways of looking at taking photos.  Hopefully this will fill your day with a little excitement and joy.  Please feel free to play along and join in the fun.

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 than 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.

In the image on the right I could tell I had a clear photo of the fly.

In this next image, the fly is more visible and the object of the photo and not the flower.

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.  (See fly photo above)
  • 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.

 

In 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 10 years ago with a Sony Point and Shoot.

Here is the cropped version.

When 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.

In 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.

Chris took this next photo with her wide angle lens.  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 sidewalk and you will notice the angle of the photo better.

Here is the cropped version.

Here are some other examples that I found.  Simply click on any photo to see them full-sized.  Cropping is matter for you decide on what is pleasing to your eye.  That is where the artistic aspect comes in to play.

Horse Play – I think these look like two totally different photos.  Which version do you like the best?  There is no right or wrong answer.

Old Barn – which version do you like the best?  There is no right or wrong answer.

Deranged Charlie – Which version is your favorite?

I’ve gathered a list of challenges and their hosts.  So if you know a challenge host, please direct them to my blog.  Feel free to contact me anytime.  I hope everyone will be able to use my lists.

Qi (energy) hugs

Cee

34 replies »

  1. I usually have to crop because lately, I’ve been printing pictures of forms of id sent to my phone by my children. Cropping does enhance these small pictures when printed. I enjoyed your pictures a lot more. Thank you for sharing and for your advice.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Depends on the resolution of your initial photo and the size you want to print. In the world of camera and today’s high resolution, cropping really isn’t as problem, unless you crop out like 75% or more of the photo. Then you will get pixelation. Cells and pad photos don’t have high resolution, so I wouldn’t recommend cropping those or very little. This could be a whole lesson in itself. Hmmmm

      Liked by 1 person

      • “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.” Hmmmm 🤔

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        • I’ve actually gone down to about an 1/8 of a photo and could still get a good 2’x3′ poster. But I have a lot 24 million pixels and it’s a full frame too.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Oh I can believe that. With me its more of an obsession (surprise!), I zoom in on every image 100% and then reduce it to a fifth of the size if I post it. We have framed photos I took over 10 years ago with a cheap camera that look just fine.

            Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for these tips. For the horse photo I prefer the uncropped one as with the crop I cannot see the jump standard on the right. But that’s just me!

    Like

    • It depends on if you just want to see the horse and rider … or if you want the photo to tell a story. Like I said there are no wrong answers (especially with this one).

      Liked by 1 person

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