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11-19-2014, 07:07 AM - 1 Like   #1
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Photo Cropping help

Hello,

I'm having the hardest time with cropping of photos. There seems to be a really fine balance with the including of environment for context purposes without drawing from the primary point of interest in the image. Are there any recommended reads (posts or books) that provide guidance and best practices for cropping of photos? Any tips?

Example:

Here I tried to make the fire alarm the primary subject yet wanted to include enough of the surrounding area to show that it was in a restaurant. The alarm seems to get swallowed up in the picture.



Not necessarily looking for help on this one picture, just open to any constructive advice and sources for learning more about cropping in general.

Thanks!!


Last edited by ripper2860; 11-19-2014 at 11:16 AM.
11-19-2014, 07:23 AM   #2
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It's a constant challenge for sure.
In this image, I think the chairs provide context.
11-19-2014, 08:13 AM   #3
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I generally follow the rule of thirds...vertically and horizontally...bascially dividing the area to be cropped into 9 areas...Trying to put the point of interest near the 1/3 or 2/3 verses in the center or a corner. Alternate between landscape and portrait...It really comes down to your call as to what stands out to you. I like your photo as it is and agree with Ter-or about the chairs.
11-19-2014, 09:08 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by Hogdriver Quote
I generally follow the rule of thirds...vertically and horizontally...bascially dividing the area to be cropped into 9 areas...Trying to put the point of interest near the 1/3 or 2/3 verses in the center or a corner. Alternate between landscape and portrait...It really comes down to your call as to what stands out to you. I like your photo as it is and agree with Ter-or about the chairs.
This image is probably better as portrait now that you mention it. You could probably also rearrange the chairs to give some natural eye movement toward the fire alarm at a top third point. Staging isn't my strong suit, though, so take it for what it's worth.

11-19-2014, 11:07 AM   #5
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I would have no idea where to start on that pic. Leave it alone
11-19-2014, 11:16 AM - 1 Like   #6
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I try to imagine the final picture in my mind to decide if perhaps I should be changing my angle of shooting to place the subject in a better position.
Studying compositional approaches such as rule of thirds mentioned above is a good way to start thinking this way.
Having knowledge of composition will guide you in your cropping you may need to do later on.
Here are some videos on youtube you may want to sit through. https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=composition+in+photography
11-19-2014, 11:25 AM   #7
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Thanks all. I do struggle with cropping even when using rule of 3rds, I can sometimes leave too much in or take too much out. And then there's the portrait vs Landscape crop and when to use one or the other. The advice and comments are very helpful and the links to composition, extremely helpful. I completely failed to consider that composition best practices not only apply to the framing the shot, but also applies when cropping a shot. Duh!
11-19-2014, 01:07 PM - 1 Like   #8
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Actually I kinda like your original framing, for the context-providing chairs, and for the use of positive and negative space. (Maybe not a killer shot, but sure not bad either.) If you want more compositional weight on the fire alarm, you could indeed try a portrait version (watch for deterioration of noise and sharpness levels, though.)

Rule of thirds is certainly a good starting point for crop decisions, but don't be afraid to break it, if you find an even more compelling framing. Often it will pay to break such rules fairly boldly, as it will make your decision appear deliberate, but even that rule can be broken, if it yields a more appealing frame.

Most of the time, I try to force myself to crop as little as possible. To lose as little IQ as possible, but also to hone my make-every-shot-count framing skills. Even when I crop, I will try to do so within the original aspect ratio, before trying different things - again, to discipline my composition. On some occasions, I've experimented with square frames, which can enhance some subjects in surprising ways.

Otherwise, as with so many aspects of photography, practice makes perfect, I guess. A-B crop and no-crop shots, or differently cropped versions (that's one of the charms of non-destructive editing, right?), ask other people which framing they prefer, but most importantly practice, practice, practice ... Isn't that part of the fun?

11-19-2014, 03:36 PM - 1 Like   #9
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When cropping, I only follow the rule of thirds and keeping crop ratio locked. It doesn't have to be perfect!
11-19-2014, 05:24 PM - 1 Like   #10
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You can find a lot of theories and rules of composition, you can find a lot of articles on these. Cropping of course is composition in post processing. Probably none are wrong, but none are always right. You can often take the same photo and crop it into various compositions, and get decent results. I took a journalism course in college on newspaper layout and surprisingly use it in composition all the time. Beside the rule of thirds, a couple of important elements can be direction and balance.
11-19-2014, 09:30 PM - 1 Like   #11
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You have to keep looking at it fresh after each change, to see if the eye naturally goes to that main subject. Cropping might not be your only step to make that happen - you could emphasize the alarm with color, sharpen just the alarm, clone some distractions, something like that. The goal is to have the viewer know the fire alarm is the subject without you telling them.
11-19-2014, 09:38 PM - 1 Like   #12
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Cropping is hard (for me).

I think the pic is successful as-is. There is texture and context. IMO a successful composition.
11-20-2014, 05:11 AM - 1 Like   #13
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My 2 cents: crop out the dark areas on either side of the frame, there's no detail there that adds to the image. Don't know if it would be better or worse, but just another option to try.
11-20-2014, 08:58 AM - 1 Like   #14
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I think a key isn't too think of this in terms of cropping but rather in terms of composition. Think about how you would take the shot if you weren't going to crop it. In other words, if you are going to look for a reference, consider composition books in general.

As for the rule of thirds. It is a great start, but I love to break it to the extreme... i.e. I like putting things further to the edges at times. It can be more exciting. I also like cropping to uncommon ratios as that can help as well (square, 2:1, 3:1).

I am quite an amateur and my composition skills are never that great. It isn't that I'm resigned to be bad but more that I shoot what I think will be a great photo and end up a little disappointed in the initial shot. Back to my previous comment, I think I get bored easily of the 2:3 ratio (SLR) or 3:4 ratios (P&S etc) most cameras shoot at. Cropping does often help me out. The other flaw in my own composition is that I ignore items that cause distractions in a photo. I think so much about the part I think will look great, but those distractions ruin the shots more than I expect once I see them back home.
11-21-2014, 05:52 PM - 1 Like   #15
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That's my take on it:



A horizontal won't work (for me) because of the resulting black bands that are distracting.
This is tight enough, "works" following the rule of thirds, you conserve some out of focus areas (the chair) to give you a sense of depth and it's not excessive.
My 0.02$
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