To Crop or Not to Crop? That Is a Loaded Question - Trust Me Shops
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To Crop or Not to Crop? That Is a Loaded Question

To Crop or Not to Crop? That Is a Loaded Question

B&H explora - All posts
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For many photographers, cropping is a dirty word. For some photographers, the very mention of the “C” word is enough to make them shudder. Me? I do it all the time, and I have my reasons… lots of them. But before we move on, let’s talk about the fact that the pictures we “create” are to a certain extent pre-cropped before we even press the shutter button.

Huh?” Yes. You read my words correctly. The photographs we compose through our viewfinders are a small central portion of a much larger circular image projected by the lens. The central portion of the image circle is the sharpest and least distorted portion of the image circle, and this is the portion of the image we see when we look through our viewfinders. To reiterate—the photographs we compose through the viewfinders of virtually all consumer cameras are the central portion of larger round photographs cropped to rectangles with 2:3, 16:9, or 4:3 aspect ratios. Unless you have a thing for round photographs with blurry edges, premeditated rectangles are something we should be thankful for. Also, every single time you decide to move to the left to take something out of the frame before you hit the shutter, you are essentially “cropping” the scene. Cropping happens all the time.

It’s worth noting, painters do not have this problem. When time comes to choosing the dimensions of a canvas, there aren’t any industry standards. The artist can make their painting as big, as long, as small, or as square as they want. Photography? That’s another story.

Get in Closer… Whenever Possible

Question: If I cannot, for whatever reason, get closer to my subject due to physical or optically imposed restrictions, is it OK to crop a photograph if doing so improves the visual or emotional dynamics of the photograph?

How many times have you heard the experts tell you, “You have to get in tighter to your subject. There’s too much stuff going on in the background—who needs it… move in… get in closer!”? You’ve heard it lots of times, and it’s rock-solid advice. But what about times you physically cannot get closer to your subject, or alternately, zoom in tighter? We’ve all been there. If cropping into a photograph improves the composition or otherwise better guides the viewer’s eye across the image field, why not?

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