Friday 27 July 2007

Full frame and Cropping

I have been thinking about Paul Indigos interesting article on the almost lost art of composing Full Frame. If you haven't already read it, why not pop over and read it now - its OK I'll wait.

A couple of points strike me about the article that I feel is quite interesting. Paul says:
"Cropping both the longest and shortest sides of the frame is in my book almost sacrilege and to be avoided at all costs."

I have been trying this for a while and have noticed that the viewfinder on my camera actually doesn't show me all of the image that is actually recorded. Sometimes a little all-round crop is needed to get what I actually saw through the viewfinder rather than something with the corner of a leaf poking in.

High Dam - Composed full frame but a leaf on the right cropped out.
(Click to view large)

It seems to me that a lot of photographers are looking for a set of rules to use in taking photos: Subject must be on the thirds, horizons must be straight, no work should be done in photoshop, you should compose full frame, etc, etc. Personally I feel it is quite a sterile idea to tie yourself to a set of arbitry constraints that are dictated by photography magazines and books in the hope of producing a shot that is "perfect".

Instead these disciplines should be looked upon as ways to fire your creativity. Composing full-frame forces you to think more about the image you are producing and exactly what elements you want in the picture. In the same way working with a prime lens increases the amount of thinking you have to do when you are trying to get the picture compared to a zoom. Work full-frame with a prime and you have a challenging yet enriching experience.

I have always been surprised that I often produce my best images when I have the "wrong" lens on the camera as it forces me to go for shots that arn't the obvious, clich├ęd shots...that's why the 100mm macro is my favourite "walkabout" just makes getting the shot a bit harder than a zoom would.

I was interested to hear at a talk by on of the Magnum photographers (sorry the name escapes me at the moment) that he found having the wrong lens on spurred him towards more creative images too. In fact he was taking it further; for a recent series of images, rather than lug a whole lighting rig with him he took just a single light and all shots were taken within a flex length of a plug socket. The constraint forced creativity or as they say these days - less is more.

As an antidote to all this prime lens/full frame/hair shirtism, don't forget that you can always give yourself permission to crop - there are really no rules, just what works for you.

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