Tuesday, November 5, 2013

To Crop, Or Not to Crop?

As in any field of artistic endeavor, in photography there are several different kinds of "Purists". They, alone, are the self-proclaimed protectors of the art form, deciding what should and should not be done. A few years back, the film purists were the most vocal, boldly proclaiming the supposed superiority of film photography over upstart digital. The film snobs have mostly been silenced now, the overwhelming majority becoming digital converts. Another small sub-set of the Purists are those who say you should never crop a photo. According to these experts, if you know what you are doing, you will always frame your composition perfectly at the time of exposure, and print full-frame. To that I say, well, er, being a family friendly blog, I won't say it.

Do I crop my photos? Yes, and often extensively! I offer up today's photo as an example. Sunday afternoon I did a family portrait session with some friends. We did it outdoors, taking advantage of the beautiful weather and the remaining Fall foliage. We tried some photos of the children playing in the fallen leaves. As always happens with action photos, it's more misses than hits. The photo below is one of the misses.

Original, non-cropped version

The exposure is a little off, there is an elbow protruding into the frame from the right, and a brother cut off on the left. At first glance, a definite cull. But wait, look at the little girl's expression - pure joy as she plays with her big brothers in the leaves! I can work with that! Enter the crop tool!

By cropping out all the offending details, and focusing attention on the little girl's joyous expression, we have a winner. To better deal with the tricky exposure situation (bright sunshine and dark shade), I converted it to a toned B&W and softened the contrast. I went with a square format because I just like square sometimes. The photo below is the finished product.

Allie Grace, Clyde, NC  -  2013
(Click on photo to enlarge.)

Should I have cropped? I'll let you decide.

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