The Cutting Edge of Photography


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The question is not “should you crop”? If you shoot small insects, if you shoot wildlife, you are almost always going to, regardless of length of lens etc. have to crop. Most of the time you have to crop to fit a normal picture frame. In the age of cameras with ever-larger numbers of pixels our ability to crop and get fine detail are increasing.

Cropping is part of the artistic process, just like editing film is part of the process of movies (though it was a lot more fun when you actually cut film in the dark room and wadded through the shreds and smelt the acetate). Not surprisingly there are strong views. People argue about cropping.  Sometimes their advice is great, other times its “what were they thinking.”

In many photographic forums the assumption is you are posting for comment and criticism. Criticism often comes in the form of suggested crops.

Here is an unofficial crop, and my original is above – the unofficial crops out part the batman shadow but more closely follows the rule of thirds.


Two out of three times the suggestions on cropping are a lot more dramatic than this, its your choice to subject yourself to this and/or accept the criticism.

So what is the lesson I have learned? It’s great to share, participate in forums but accept that there are costs, different views, some confusion and sometimes more help than you expected or than you needed. I have and will continue to post in the same places with the same risks of criticism.

I post in specialized forums so I can learn a thing or two. Passion, in my view, includes the desire to learn do better and explore new things. It does not easily happen in isolation.

10 responses

  1. I like the shadow 🙂


    February 17, 2013 at 5:44 am

  2. I agree with the cropping principle, but not always. Mostly as rule of thumb for me when the background is overcrowded detracting from my main subject. I studiously avoid programmes such as Photoshop, what I show is what I saw.


    February 17, 2013 at 5:48 am

  3. Wow, you’ve written about a subject that I think about a lot. I try to control as much as I can to shoot images that I like, but most often I have a desire to crop in post-processing. We already to a lot of “cropping” before we shoot when we choose our lens and angle–I find nothing wrong in continuing the process afterwards. For me, it’s about assisting the viewers to see what we want them to see, using whatever tools we have at our disposal. Since I started shooting in RAW, I have really gotten used to the idea that I am going to adjust all of my photos to some degree and cropping is part of that process.


    February 17, 2013 at 6:21 am

  4. Phoport

    Nice shot, however, it is missing a sharpness and the yellow tone behind the grasshopper almost hides the grasshopper. And in turn, lessens the sharpness around the grasshoppers head and body .


    February 17, 2013 at 10:16 am

    • Phoport, the shot, in the fact the whole series (that you can see on my website) was taken handheld. I think you are the first to notice that there was a narrower depth of field, than I would have liked. On the other hand I think overall impact, sometimes makes up for other shortfalls. Regards,


      February 17, 2013 at 1:46 pm

  5. Phoport

    And I’m with you on the overall impact. 😉


    February 17, 2013 at 3:51 pm

  6. As I wade into the photography waters deeper, cropping becomes more of prominent factor. Most of my photos I post online, I tend not to crop. I also try to fill the frame of my shots as much as possible (not always to good effect, but I have a magnification addiction :), I don’t know how to zoom out) which makes me hesitant to do a lot of cropping.

    Another nice post, Viktor, keep them coming! Also, I like the original and the crop of the grasshopper; hard to choose between the two.



    February 17, 2013 at 4:38 pm

  7. I never crop insects. I’m a vegetarian! Tee hee! 🙂


    February 17, 2013 at 8:55 pm

  8. I certainly agree that shooting wildlife inevitably means I will crop. It’s too bad people started talking about rules rather than principles or guidelines which would be more helpful. The beauty of advice is that you can take the good and file the rest!

    Just curious if you have have any forums more helpful than others? I haven’t participated but wondered about it sometimes.


    February 18, 2013 at 1:15 am

    • Good question. Nikonians and Cambridge in Color are excellent. Everyone tries to be helpful.


      February 18, 2013 at 6:03 am

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