Fun with photo cropping!

Jonathan has been graciously letting me borrow his fancy shmancy DSLR camera.  I have always loved photography, but I didn’t (and still don’t) have the slightest clue as to how to take a picture.

He has patiently described things like aperture, ISO, and shutter speed to me, while my brain melted into my skull.

Pretending that I could learn everything there is to know about photography in one day or even one year is silly billy.  Instead, I am trying to take things one step at a time.  For my first lesson, I chose cropping.

Sounds easy, right?  Toooootally.

Until I read this post from Jodi Friedman.  Scary, right?  Yes.

It’s ok, we hold hands and carry on together.

For this project I used a picture from Josie’s recent trip to the beach.  (Please ignore all of the other problems with this picture while we talk about cropping.  Because otherwise my feelings might get hurt and I might cry.  Mmk?) This is the original snap:

Apparently this shows a classic rookie mistake of centering your subject.  The “Rule of Thirds” breaks your picture down into a 3×3 grid.  Our brains love to see subjects on the intersecting lines of those grids.  Go figure.

These lines aren’t exact, but it gives you a better idea of the grid system I’m talking about:

Josie should be on one of those intersections to make the picture more aesthetically pleasing and to make the photography gods happy.

So let’s put her on the top left intersection:

Uhm…weird.  That’s weird to you too, right?  I think the main reason this is freaky to me is that I have no idea what’s going on with the water.  And what is Josie looking at over there?

Let’s try putting her in the bottom right corner in order to get more water:

Ahhh…that feels better.

The one thing I really love about this picture is Josie’s reflection.  By cropping in closer, I might be able to get a better look.

Yes.  I think that the reflection is cool, but cropping the pic this much takes away from the overall story.

Maybe if we do a vertical crop instead of horizontal?

Well, this brings back the problem of what’s going on with the water.

I think we’ll stick to the bottom right corner crop.

Do you go through a process when cropping your pictures?

Any tips for amateur croppers?


12 thoughts on “Fun with photo cropping!

  1. I’m a cropping maniac. Usually I look to see where there’s a line that will draw the eye across the photo and then use it as a natural frame.

  2. Cropping is always a problem for me. But I have to admit, the smaller the frame, the more interesting the picture is. It suggests to you that there’s more to the picture than what is shown which is so much cooler than showing the whole thing. It leaves more to the imagination which . brings more to the whole thing.

    • You’re right. Sometimes the unexpected crop is the most interesting. I have a hard time figuring out what is creative and interesting vs. plain weird. It’s a fine line. haha

  3. I’m still reading Plate to Pixel by Helene Dujardine, which is an excellent photography guide. It’s based on food photography, but the same principles apply to lots of other photo types. Of course, I’m also the girl who bought a “Dummies” guide for my big-girl camera when I bought it. Hey… every little bit of help helps, ya’ know? I love the vertical crop (tall & skinny) of Josie, her reflection & the waves. It would look really cool framed. I’m thinking whitewashed/used white frame.

    • I’ve had Plate to Pixel in my Amazon cart for a few weeks now. It’s time.
      I hear reading the user’s manual is some of the best help you can get for your personal camera. Zzzzzz

  4. You’re gonna want a horizontal crop with lots of water to the left. A vertical cropping has no relationship to your subject. The natural ocean wave pattern is horizontal – flat sand. Vertical view conflicts with this. Besides Josie, the imminent wave coming at Josie is the focus of the picture and is also the subject of her attention. Good idea for to get the reflection!

  5. I think cropping is God’s gift to photography. I hate zoom. I like being able to take an all-encompassing picture in the moment and then being able to be more thoughtful about it later. I am quite appreciative of the tips though. It will help me look like I might actually know what I’m doing sometime.

  6. If you are using a fancy schmansy DSLR, you’ve got plenty of megapixels. So don’t worry about cropping it too tight when youa re shooting it. Leave a little extra room all around so you have some flexibility when cropping. I hink I’d have cropped this to Upper right.

    Also, try keeping Josie in color and changing everything else to black & white.

  7. Pingback: The Fall Five | La Petite Pancake

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