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05-03-2021, 02:32 PM   #1
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Crop Ratios, Fine Art Prints, and Project Unity

I want to start a six month photography project. It will be on the theme "found objects." I will print them all on the same paper, and cropped to the same size, so they have a unified format.
The eventual prints will be done on 8 1/2" by 11" paper to keep costs down. I am struggling a bit about what crop ratio to use. I want to use the same ratio for every print.

Is it crazy to go with a 1:1 ratio, when I am using a K-50 16,3 MP camera? I know I am discarding quite a few pixels that way, but after buying and looking through a stack of old LensWork magazines, I really like the look of a square print.

I want to see what other people prefer when doing prints? What crop ratio do you use when making fine art prints?

05-03-2021, 02:41 PM - 1 Like   #2
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Very interesting question.
Lately I made a new photographer friend who was fixated on this, and eventually made me think about the frame ratio, so I decided to part with the native 3:2 or 4:3 ratio of my cameras and decided to explore further. the formula usually is nn-1) but the bigger the n the more you get near to the square. for example 7:6 (or 6x7 if you prefer) is just shy of a rectangle. I've found my sweet spot to be a 5:4.
I would recommend, take a bunch of your favorite photos and try cropping them in different ratios until something clicks in you, and just stick with it!
05-03-2021, 02:44 PM   #3
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How about 3:2 (the K-50's native ratio)? The printer will do a mild downsize to make it fit, but the result should be pleasing.


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05-03-2021, 02:46 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by shyrsio Quote
I've found my sweet spot to be a 5:4
The classic 8x10


Steve

05-03-2021, 02:50 PM   #5
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I generally shoot in 4x6 and sometimes crop to 4x5. In the past it was harder to find mats and frames for 8x12 so I cropped a lot of images to 8x10 but it seems that is not so hard anymore.

Right now I am working on a project that is all done in 1:1. You can take a look here if you want to see how they came out: Rural Structures Art Prints | Shop Prints | Zigzag Mt Art
05-03-2021, 03:04 PM   #6
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Found objects as in isolation or as where they are found? If objects tend to be square or round a square frame is good. If objects tend to be more rectangular then a square will squeeze the framing. If you need environment in the frame to show where found, a wider frame is more helpful. That said, if the collection is going to be like a book, I would probably use 4x5 or 5x4 depending on if the short or long side would be the binding.
05-03-2021, 03:12 PM   #7
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Square aspect ratio is somewhat harder to compose for, but for some subjects it is the natural choice. If I was picking out a ratio a priori for a bunch of photos I hadn't yet taken, it wouldn't be my first choice without a good reason, but in any case I wouldn't let the native ratio of the camera be the determining factor, or a factor at all really.
05-03-2021, 03:38 PM   #8
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I now crop most of my work as 4x5 (I think it's 5x4 in England ). That crop ratio will resize to 8x10, 11x14, and 16x20 without any problems. The 11x14 crop is very slightly different but not significantly so. There are easily available mats and frames to fit these sizes of prints.


Last edited by cpk; 05-03-2021 at 04:11 PM.
05-03-2021, 03:40 PM   #9
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Actually everything you photograph is a found object or a collection of objects. It depends how you define 'Found Object', as the classic 'objet trouvé' known in art, or simply an object that is found.

See the series of photos of found objects on my website:
BAP - Found Object

All photo's are in a square format (as are 90% of all my other photos).

p.s. Billy Axeman is my other pseudonym.

Last edited by Kobayashi.K; 05-03-2021 at 03:50 PM.
05-03-2021, 04:16 PM   #10
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I try to think of the crop when i take the photo. I tend to crop either 4:5 or 16:9, and on occasion I'll go for a square. Not much fond of the 3:2 aspect ratio itself, but for me it's a good balance for cropping.

Maybe frame a bit looser as you start the project, and see where it goes before deciding. 16mp should be plenty for printing 8.5x11, it doesn't matter if you crop to a square if one edge stays constant (8 inches or so, depending on the border). You can experiment with a dpi print size calculator, though they tend to assume high dpi of 300 for viewing up close.

Last edited by aaacb; 05-03-2021 at 05:08 PM.
05-03-2021, 04:22 PM - 1 Like   #11
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To me the subject always defines the ratio, cropping to fit a shape just seems backwards to artistic creation, but I understand what you are doing, it's the "Instagram way". On the other hand we always shoot within borders too.
05-03-2021, 05:11 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Kobayashi.K Quote
See the series of photos of found objects on my website:
I like the wry annotations. It's an interesting collection.
05-03-2021, 05:16 PM   #13
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I am so used to composing photos in a 3:2 viewfinder, it is now very difficult for me to compose a photo thru a 3:2 viewfinder that will be displayed well in another ratio.
05-03-2021, 05:23 PM - 1 Like   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by swanlefitte Quote
Found objects as in isolation or as where they are found? If objects tend to be square or round a square frame is good. If objects tend to be more rectangular then a square will squeeze the framing. If you need environment in the frame to show where found, a wider frame is more helpful. That said, if the collection is going to be like a book, I would probably use 4x5 or 5x4 depending on if the short or long side would be the binding.
For this project, I am going into antique shops and thrift stores to find something out of the norm, so I am "finding them" and bringing them home or to an interesting location to photograph. My finds in the last week were:

A General Electric PR-1 Exposure Meter with tan case in mint condition for $10 CAD *introduced in 1948)
An old metal canteen with patterned wool covering for $5 CAD.
A Canon TX film camera with 50 mm 1.8 lens for $20 CAD

With this project, the photos will probably be done in B & W. I have tried cropping previous images to 1:1 and liked what resulted in many cases. The problem is, using a 1:1 ratio places equal weighting on every part of the image. Composition becomes quite important, if using a 1:1 ratio in the camera itself, but if you keep the default 3:2 setting and crop it later in post-production things often work out okay. The potential problem is that by discarding at least 1/3 of my digital image, I am cutting the usable pixels down to just over 10 MP. That's okay for an 8" square print, but you can't push things too much further without losing details.

I will say this much: If you really want to focus on image composition, cropping to a 1:1 ratio will really help...
05-03-2021, 07:25 PM   #15
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Crop at will...

The quick crop to 1:1 is one of my favorite K-1 features. I'm disappointed that it isn't offered on the K-3lll. It may be the reason I don't buy one. I find square composition much easier than 3:2. Something between 4:3 and 4:5 is my favorite. I think it's always better to select the aspect ratio in camera, where you still have the choice of changing your viewpoint to make a composition "click."
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