Insects and a Comment on Cropping (Two Photographs)

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Is it possible that there are people who do not appreciate insect photography? In my defense insects in the wild are best, insects, found in the house or eating the garden are not so good (we have a catch and release policy in our house). In any event one of my photographic passions is the photography of insects. My aim in posting insect photography is to show a world of animals most people will never see. In this case we have some flower flies (family Syrphidae) mating.

I was told early on by a published insect photographer that cropping was inevitable with close-up photography. Most cameras today, apart from the point and shoots have 16 to 40 megabyte sensors with most in the 16 megapixel to 24 megapixel range. This was taken with a 24 megapixel camera and heavily cropped (over 80%). Obviously the closer you get the less you need to crop, but how close you can get before your subject leaves or before you are out of your comfort zone are equally important. (One caveat is that there is a limit to cropping when the picture starts pixelating.) The photo below cannot be cropped much more that it is. But there are other considerations to take into account and they have affected all of my photography regardless of size or type of subject. The center focus point in most cameras, dead center in the frame is most accurate and most effective. Using it to advantage means centering your subject, there are a lot of circumstances where fast critical focus is needed. Shooting like this means cropping in post. Our focus on a given subject can be like tunnel vision and we may miss things in the frame, shooting wider and cropping later helps. If we want to apply rules (rule of thirds, golden triangle etc.) it is easier in post than in camera under these conditions. In effect the crop gives us another artistic tool, to create our final product. Most nature photographers crop most if not all of the time and how a picture is cropped can lead to all sorts of debate on the web. One of my photos a few years ago was re-cropped by a participant on a forum. Had this person not been the officer who prepared the U2 photographs for Adlai Stevenson to present at the UN during the Cuban Missile Crisis, I might not have been so happy to see the results 🙂 Lastly, and I am thinking along the lines of those challenges where a photo is processed in more than one way, cropping can mean one frame has more than one photograph in it. Purists who believe that out of the camera perfection is possible and the only approach will be disappointed with my suggestions. I won’t be taking their calls.

Flies mating 2

18 responses

  1. great shot, cropped or not 🙂


    September 7, 2015 at 2:10 am

  2. Midwestern Plant Girl

    I love insects. They are as interesting as furry animals 😃


    September 7, 2015 at 7:44 am

  3. Excellent hoverfly shot. I’m ashamed to say I have no idea how many mp by camera has. Maybe 22? I don’t remember. Every creature has a circle of fear. If you cross the line it flies. That’s why we crop!


    September 7, 2015 at 5:02 pm

  4. Honestly Victor, before I started looking at your images, I was one who didn’t like insect photography. Your photos of this small world has changed my mind though. I love how you exude personality in your insect photography!


    September 7, 2015 at 5:53 pm

  5. Victor an excellent image and thank you for the insights on taking photos of insects at a macro level and then cropping.


    September 7, 2015 at 5:55 pm

  6. I use cropping a lot for things like insects and small flowers, fungi, etc… and I find it helps to reduce blurring and shake by photographing subjects from even just twice the normal distance away and then post-cropping.


    September 7, 2015 at 8:07 pm

  7. I really love your insects photos. You’ve increased my appreciation of this vast array of creatures. And I was relieved to learn that you use the same technique as I do – shooting on center then cropping. It seems to work well for me that way.


    September 7, 2015 at 9:48 pm

    • Thanks. All these little things that add up to a satisfactory result, very rewarding, and great to pass along.

      Liked by 1 person

      September 7, 2015 at 10:23 pm

  8. It’s a great shot and it’s detailed and crisp so the cropping has not impaired its success. I’m an insect fan. We had pet cockroaches when we lived in Scotland.


    September 7, 2015 at 10:57 pm

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