View Full Version : Cropping Techniques

01-27-2008, 10:17 AM
Does anyone know of an online resource to learn the ins and outs of cropping pictures to get that wow factor?

01-27-2008, 11:22 AM
This video is the only one I can think of.
Creative cropping (http://www.steveharringtonphoto.com/creative%20crop%201206.wmv)

01-27-2008, 11:30 AM
Cropping is subjective.

01-27-2008, 12:00 PM
Cropping is subjective.

Well so is photography itself. Thank you very little for your uninspiring comment.

01-27-2008, 12:12 PM
Sorry, it just seems to me there will not be many "rules" to be found about a subjective thing.

You don't have to be an ass about it.

01-27-2008, 12:45 PM
Sorry, it just seems to me there will not many "rules" to be found about a subjective thing.

You don't have to be an ass about it.

Sorry for coming off ass'ish. Must have had too much coffee today. I was just trying to make a point that while replies to my thread are appreciated, ones that don't help answer my question aren't really neccessary.

01-27-2008, 01:03 PM
Cropping can sometimes improve an image. Usually I just try some different things and see what looks the best. Be sure to compare to your original and make sure the best crop is really an improvement! Also, make sure that you are not cropping out too much of the photo. If you crop too much, there is not enough "photo left" to make a good print.

The video gmtech provided is really interesting. It took me a minute to catch on, I thought, why are they making a straight photo crooked? But then I realized it really was a cool improvement. Those of us without Photoshop could first use the Straighten tool to make it "crooked," and then crop normally.

I found this site (http://www.lunacore.com/photoshop/tutorials/tut023.htm) that addresses cropping to the Rule of Thirds, which can really improve an image. Most of the tutorial is spent on telling you how to make a graphic overlay to be able to see where the thirds are. I don't have to make an overlay -- my editor (Paint Shop Pro) will show "grids" that can be set to any parameters. A grid of 2 lines across and 2 lines down shows me the thirds.

If you are going to print your cropped photo from a "standard printer," it gets a little more complicated.

Be aware of the ratio when you're cropping. Your camera creates an image ready to be printed at 4x6 (a 2:3 ratio.) If you want to print an 8x10, it's best to crop it to that ratio (a 4:5 ratio) yourself rather than having it happen automatically when you print the picture, because that way you can have control over what gets left out and what stays in the picture.

If you want to crop to an unusual size (let's say a square, or a panoramic ratio) most printers would automatically crop your cool image into the 2:3 or 4:5 ratio. What I've done to "trick" the printer out of cropping is to add a huge border (http://www.dcresource.com/forums/showthread.php?t=33815&highlight=border+crop&page=3)on the "short" side to make it fit the 2:3 ratio. That way the printer sees it as a regular shape photo and doesn't crop anything out. Then when you get the photo, you can cut off the entire border, or if you are printing it, you can cover the entire border with the mat.

On the other hand, you can just go to a custom printer such as Americanframe.com (http://www.americanframe.com/) and you won't have any problem with aspect ratios.

Okay I hope that wasn't too much information :o

01-27-2008, 01:36 PM
Thanks for the post.

Does anyone care to post some before/after examples of some crops for inspiration?

01-27-2008, 03:06 PM
I think you'd be better off learning to frame your picture well before you take it than trying to get a "wow factor" because of a crop.

01-27-2008, 07:30 PM
I think you'd be better off learning to frame your picture well before you take it than trying to get a "wow factor" because of a crop.

That sounds great, but as Toriaj pointed out every print format is not the same. This was true even with film, but it has gotten even more wacky under digital formats where the output might not even be for print. Sometimes an image might just look it's best square, but I have yet to see a square format digital camera. And what about those 'classic' oval mats on portraits?

01-28-2008, 04:24 AM
Cropping depends on what you want it to do. Do you want to bring attention to a certain part of an image? Do you want to remove part of an image that is distracting? There are no hard and fast rules about cropping. No one can tell you "Well, crop it this way and it'll knock your socks off" It's just not going to happen. What I think makes an image pop, might not be the same that you see. I've seen images cropped so severely that all you see is noise, but I've also seen images cropped the same amount, that are incredible. So you see, cropping is subjective and needs to be handled on a case by case basis.

06-23-2009, 08:16 AM
OK, I am going to try and resurect the cropping thread, because I think I have a few valid questions, hopefully they won't result in some flames or brutish comments... so here goes.

I am wondering about cropping in a couple situations. First off, how would you crop to display images for a personal portfolio, website portfolio or otherwise? Obviously you want to show your best work. For example I enjoy taking photos of horses and racehorses. Often times photos at the track result in a lot of background and foreground distractions. To enhance the focus of the shot on the subject, like the jockey or the horse, I find the need to crop the photos frequently. Is it best to try and crop to a particular aspect ratio, like 2:3 or 4:5, or to just any height/width combination that captures the subject? What approach would give the photo that "professional" look that I would be looking for in a portfolio style picture?

Second would be for "sale" such as a stock photography site, for display on a personal site for sale, or just for displaying photos in the hopes that someone would say "hey that's a nice shot, I could really use it in XYZ publication" etc. I realize stock photo web sites have their own sets of guidelines for stuff like this, but often questions like this don't get answered. Question: Is it best to not crop, or hardly crop at all to leave the photo in its max resolution/unaltered state? Would a viewer be able to recognize that they can zoom in on the subject and ignore the stray head, lamp post, or other distractions to recognize the great shot within? Or should they be helped to crop a little? If so, what height/width guidelines are there? Or should you default to a "photo" type aspect ratio?

I hope this is a valid question, and maybe this evening I can post an example of a photo demonstrating my questions, and a few ways it could be cropped. Basically I am trying to learn to be a better photographer and to show my work better without getting "laughed away" for "amaturish" displays of my work.

06-23-2009, 06:48 PM
cropping is subjective

That's exactly what I said :-)

06-23-2009, 10:30 PM
First off, how would you crop to display images for a personal portfolio, website portfolio or otherwise?

Don't restrict yourself to one ratio. Use whatever looks best for each shot.

06-23-2009, 11:25 PM
I take a lot of sports photos and I crop extensively. The people who say to compose and not crop obviously don't try to take shots of two people running from different direction at a Soccer ball or a group of motorcycles or horses racing around a circuit. Generally I crop to 3x2 or 5x4 aspect ratios because they are the ratios we are mentally programmed to expect so they tend to look "normal" but ratio should be secondary to the image. Crop to what the image needs. Square photos can look really neat and long thin images portray the panorama effect of a suitable shot really well. The only rule that you need to concern yourself with is what are you trying to achieve in the photo. If it's a photo of a horse then it should be a photo of a horse not a photo of a very large paddock with a small horse in one corner if it's a photo of a horse race or horse event then you may need a bit more background to convey the mood or overall action, there again a really tight shot of three horses heads with flared nostrils will convey a totally different sort of action.
To me something that is equally as important as cropping is rotation. Things that are horizontal should be horizontal and things that are vertical should be vertical. I often rotate before I crop even if it's only a couple of degrees. If you are going for the arty tilted look make sure that it's really tilted. :)

06-27-2009, 07:40 AM
thank you all for your comments and suggestions, they were helpful to me.

MT Stringer
06-28-2009, 09:47 PM
I also shoot a lot of sports and I found that if you set your cropping tool to 2166 pixels x 1600 pixels @ 300 dpi, you can crop your image as needed, and leave a little extra space all the way around. Then you will be able to print up to 16x20 without losing any part of the image.

Hope this helps.