Photography can be a fun hobby, even for amateurs like myself. Creating an aesthetically pleasing image often requires more than simply clicking the shutter on a camera. There are many things to consider before clicking that shutter and many options to employ after the digital image is in your computer.
As I develop my photography skills, I enjoy sharing tips I’ve learned that have helped me improve. Today I’d like to encourage you to think about the artistry involved in simply cropping a photo.
Take this photo for example:
I asked my daughter if she liked it, and she replied “It’s alright.” Since I had already (slightly) edited the image with PicMonkey for contrast, sharpness, and color, I decided cropping the photo might improve it.
When I first clicked the crop button, a box popped up in the middle of the photo; and I thought, “That’s not bad.” I applied the crop and showed the frosty photo to my daughter again.
“That’s a little better,” she said, still with an unimpressed tone of voice.
So, I thought I’d randomly play around with the cropping tool and see what evolved. It’s interesting how cropping a photo, even a little bit, can sometimes change the impact an image has on the viewer.
I tried pushing the initial cropping box into the bottom left corner of the photo, and swiveled my laptop toward my daughter. This time I was rewarded with “I like that one!”
“Hmmm…” I thought. “I wonder why…The ‘rule of thirds,’ perhaps? Let me see how different the other corner looks.”
My patient daughter’s critique this time: “Yeah, I really like that one, too.”
“Maybe she just likes the focal point being in the corner? Let’s see what it looks like when you really put it tightly into the corner.”
I changed the size of the crop this time, while keeping the original proportions. Then I decided to compare a horizontal to a vertical image, being careful not to move the top left corner out of position.
Changing the orientation definitely gives the final image a different look. I’m not sure which one I like better.
Realizing that the two buds near the center of the photo were the focal point of each cropped image, I worked around the edges of the photo to see if I could come up with a decent alternative. This was the best of the crops I tried:
In this case, the long icicle became the focal point — again following the rule of thirds, as well. There is so much detail in those icicles that I didn’t notice in the original photo!
If you had not viewed the original photo, you would not realize the two previous images came from one shot. This is an example of how cropping can allow you to get more than one image out of a single photo, if your original photo has enough information in it to really zoom in without things becoming blurry or pixelated. I’ve done this more than once on this blog for images that were too busy or too far away from the subjects.
The photos I typically use on this blog are only 640 pixels on the longest side, so having large file sizes on my photos is not necessary. However, I have learned to set my old camera to the largest file size available, so that I have more opportunities for creative cropping.
If you are rather new to photography, like me, here’s the simplest way to get the most out of your cropping function: Set your camera to take images at a large size (2,000+ pixels per side) and set it on the most detailed setting (“super-fine” on my Canon Power Shot, though shooting in RAW could be even better, if you have a good photo editing program to process it).
Did this photo seem familiar to you? You may have seen (part of) it before…