Cropping can have a huge impact on the final photograph. Yet so many new photographers (and some experienced) overlook how much impact this can have on a photo. The photo above is the original frame of Claire, a young model straight out of the camera.
The next photo is the same aspect ratio, merely cropped in tighter and rotated slightly.
This crop is one that many would say you should do in camera. Meaning that when the shot was taken you should have framed it like this.
This next one is cropped to a standard 4×5 ratio as you would use to print 8×10. When shooting you have to consider what your final aspect ratio is and leave enough image to chop off if needed. In this case I also cropped in tighter.
The next two crops are back to the 2×3 ratio which is the ratio my camera captures. The primary difference in these two crops is the rotation of the crop.
Once again these examples could have been in camera. Notice how this slight rotation has a huge impact on the look of the photograph.
Of course there are plenty of other aspect ratios for cropping photographs. A very popular but not often used is a square ratio – 1×1. Look how this format changes the look yet again.
In this case the crop makes the face for of a focal point then some of the other crops we have looked at so far.
Of course with today’s printing, you can crop to just about any ratio that works. Here is a panoramic type crop wide and then in tight.
As you can see by now, some crops are better than others with this image. Each image is unique, and the perfect crop is very content dependent.
Here are two more crops in the classic 5×7 ratio. These crops really focus on Claire’s face.
And with some rotation we get.
When I crop in Photoshop I will leave the opacity of the crop at 100%. That way I am not influenced by the areas outside the crop when I am framing it.
There is some debate as to when to crop. I will do a generalized crop in Bridge prior to bringing the image into Photoshop. Final cropping is done after most of my retouching is complete. Some of my techniques are final crop dependent, so I do have to hold those until after the crop is made.
The Bridge crop leaves some extra image when possible as I may need that area to sample from it when creating the final photograph.
Don’t be afraid to play around with crops of your photos. And remember you can rotate your crops to add even more variety. I know I have found more than one treasure by just re-cropping a photo.
Hopefully you will find some joy in the cropping of your own photos.