Sunday 4 February 2007

Permission to Crop

Michael Reichmann has recently produced an excellent article on cropping. It has always seemed strange to me that many photographers would not be seen dead using the automatic modes on their cameras yet somehow see it as cheating to break away from the aspect ratio that their camera manufacturer provides.

Cropping is all about finding the shape an image wants/needs to be. As an example lets look at an image I took on Friday at Limehouse Basin in Docklands. Looking at the image as it came off the camera the first thing I did was to use a LAB move to boost the colours and increase the contrast:

20D & 100mm f/2.8 Macro un-cropped image
(Click to view large)

I was trying to convey the feel of the area with the boats surrounded by the very expensive flats, all of which is over shadowed by the giant towers of Canary Wharf. Yet the sheer quantity of things in the image disrupts the message I was aiming for, so I decided on a narrow crop to give the tight vertical feel of a Japanese wall hanging:

final cropped image
(Click to view large)

I still feel its too cluttered and that colour doesn't actually add to the image at all. So the final version ended up as a black & white:

As an image maker it is important to give yourself "permission to crop" and develop a feel for the shape an image should be.


David Toyne said...

I quite agree with the nonsense people come out with about not cropping images. I think its important to consider if you want to crop to change format before the image is taken. I know many pro's who regularly compose to crop into panoroamas or pseudo 645 format but they all consider it while composing. Jost my tuppence 'hapeny worth.

Chris Shepherd said...

I suppose its all about how you work, a lot of people aim to get everything right in camera every time. Which is fine if that's the way you like to work.

Personally I aim for the image I take to provide the "feel" I am after and I further develop that feel on the PC. Looks like Michael Reichmann comes more from my view of the world.

Everyone works in a different way I suppose.