PhotographyTips.com - the #1 guide to better conventional and digital photography Become a Member iPhone Posing GuideGuide to Posing the Female Model BookGuide to Posing the Model CD
Search
Login

Member Login

Find us on Facebook
Follow us on Twitter
Find us on Flickr
Connect with us on LinkedIn

SPONSORS

Sell Photos Online

FEATURED SITES


Cropping considerations to be aware of


Cropping an already tightly-framed image can lend greater emphasis to the center of interest, in this case, the fighter and his expression.
Cropping an already tightly-framed image can lend greater emphasis to the center of interest, in this case, the fighter and his expression.

Correctly cropping a picture for one purpose may be incorrect for another.

The extent to which you crop a photograph will depend on several factors, such as the need to eliminate an unsightly element, removal of too much irrelevant space around the subject of the picture, placing greater emphasis on the picture's center of interest, and so on. But the main factor in how much cropping should be done is the picture's suitability to its end use.

CROPPING TO EMPHASIZE THE CENTER OF INTEREST

There is nothing wrong with the way in which the top picture on the left was framed when the picture was taken. But, you will note that the lower, cropped version of the same picture brings the viewer in much more tightly, giving increased emphasis to the fighter and less importance to the fighter's trainers. It makes the viewer almost feel as if he or she is "right in there" and a part of the drama.

PARTIALLY CROPPING OUT ELEMENTS GIVES THEM LESS IMPORTANCE

These pictures illustrate an important effect of cropping. When an object (or person) is near the picture's frame and you crop into the picture so that more of the object is removed, falling outside the frame, that object is given less importance. It is still a valuable picture element in that it contributes to the picture's story, but partially cropping it out makes it less valuable, and places more importance on the remaining components.

In the cropped image on the lower left, your eye is automatically directed more quickly to the fighter than to the other two persons, even though they also draw your attention. It is clear, though, that the photographer intends you to look at the center of interest - the fighter himself - rather than other elements of the picture. This emphasis is achieved by very tight cropping.


DON'T BE TOO HASTY TO DELETE YOUR ORIGINAL PICTURE AFTER CROPPING IT

When you have cropped a digital image and are pleased with the results, you are probably inclined to simply save the cropped version with little thought given to preserving the original.

If the original image has no redeeming features compared with the uncropped version, then go ahead and save only the smaller, cropped image file. But, if there is a chance the original might be used in its uncropped state, you might be wise to save it, just in case.

The images on the right help to illustrate this advice.

There is nothing intrinsically wrong with the larger, uncropped picture on the left, but the cropped version on the right brings the viewer closer to the center of interest, which a photographer may feel improves the picture. The larger image may still be quite useful, though, since it contains a good deal of secondary space that a publisher might need for, say, a magazine cover or to introduce a feature article.

You may feel that cropping brings the viewer closer to the center of interest (the horse herd) and improves the picture. But, don't delete the original. You may need it for another use.
You may feel that cropping brings the viewer closer to the center of interest (the horse herd) and improves the picture. But, don't delete the original. You may need it for another use.

You will be happy you saved the original when it is chosen for the cover of a publication that needs the extra space for text placement.
You will be happy you saved the original when it is chosen for the cover of a publication that needs the extra space for text placement.

Here is the uncropped original as it might appear on a magazine cover.

You will note that the title and other text of the imaginary magazine occupies areas of the image that were removed in the cropped example shown above on the right.

Those extra areas became essential space in which to place the text without infringing on the center of interest and still maintaining good compositional balance and spacing among all the elements on the cover.

Had the original not been saved and had the cropped version been the only one that was available, it probably would not have worked as well for a cover photo.

You may not intend for your pictures to appear on magazine covers or in other major publications, but they may be used by you in the creation of a personalized Christmas card or greeting card, or you might want to include them in a family newsletter, a poster advertising a garage sale, or a picture-in-picture image file.

Saving an uncropped original that has useable secondary space may provide you with just the right picture for your project.


THINK TWICE BEFORE CROPPING

It is always a good idea to take a moment to consider the effect of removing elements from a picture by cropping it. Cropping or cropping too severely may be a mistake.

You may believe you are improving the picture by moving in closer to fill the frame with the center of interest, creating better balance among the picture's elements, or improving your composition by abiding by the Rule of Thirds, but consider whether you may also be removing important information that the viewer will need to fully understand the picture.

The pictures on the right illustrate when cropping should perhaps not be done, although it may have seemed a good idea at first.

The subject certainly fills the frame nicely in the cropped picture, but the uncropped picture shows the locale and gives a better impression of the height from which the subject is falling.
The subject certainly fills the frame nicely in the cropped picture, but the uncropped picture shows the locale and gives a better impression of the height from which the subject is falling.

Cropping brought the viewer closer to the young man letting go of the rope, filling the frame with the center of interest. But, it also eliminated information needed by the viewer to fully grasp the picture's story. Keeping the water and trees in the picture shows the viewer that the shot was taken at a lake, and adds the element of scale, showing how high up the young fellow is.


Further information...

Composition
Related topics...

Rule of Thirds

Cropping digital images

Cropping landscapes to create panoramas