Chop and Crop…Let’s Try It!

“No animal should ever jump up on the dining room furniture unless absolutely certain that he can hold his own in the conversation.”

~ Fran Lebowitz

If you pet could hold his own in the conversation, the first thing he would want to recommend would be to do a simple chop and crop on your animal images. Well actually, this concept works with any image you make, so if you are into photographing people and not animals, that’s ok. Read on.

Cropping is an important tool because it is one of the easiest ways to edit without doing a lot of fancy manipulations. I would much rather my spend time making images, not fixing them later in Photoshop. You too?

Great. So let’s start with our camera and work at cropping each image as we make it. This is called naturally enough, cropping in the camera.

Once you begin to practice cropping your photographs as you make them, your ability to see will vastly improve. You will begin to cut out all the extraneous information in front of the lens and focus instead on only what you want to convey to the viewer.

An added bonus is that you will spend a lot less time fixing images later on your computer. You’ll have “fixed” them already as you make the image.

As always, it’s easier to see the concept with photographs. Let’s start with an image where there is a lot going on, but no real subject in the photograph.

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 It’s a cute snapshot of your dog swimming in a pool.

 But if you move in and give this image a tighter crop, your dog becomes the most important element in the image. The first photograph said…what? This one says, “I’m really enjoying swimming in this pool!”

 Let’s try another one.

While this is a strong image, a tighter crop would transport the viewer into the photograph so that there is nowhere else for their eyes to go.

Here is the tighter crop. There is not a great deal of difference between the two images, but now the viewer is right there.

Here’s another one that needs cropping in the camera.

It’s  a nice image of a girl riding her horse at the county fair.

Now the viewer is pulled into the action. Much better.

Of course you can crop your files later when you have them loaded onto your computer, but remember that when you crop after the fact, you are throwing away pixels and thus reducing the quality of your final image.

So your assignment for this week is to work on cropping your images in your camera. Try it. Before long you’ll be a pro at this technique and your images will be even stronger.

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