Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Cropping to Change Perspective

When you take a photo you inevitably thing "What do I want in it?" and then frame your photo accordingly.  But sometimes there are instances when you can change the entire aspect and subject of a photo just by cropping.

This photo, while pretty, is fairly boring and utilizes poor photo technique.  There is no real subject.  Your eye has a difficult time being drawn to either one flower or the other.  While it makes a cool background and is aestetically pleasing there is a way to make this photo better. Crop it.

This is a cropped image from the first one.  I zeroed in on one of the flowers and cropped it closer, giving the photo a clear subject.  This photo was brought from good to better.

So how do you go about choosing exactly where and what to crop in a photo?  
As in... why did I choose this flower versus the other and compose it how I did?

  1. Look for a subject.  I had an obvious choice of one of the two flowers with this example.  The one I choose had to do little with how the flower looks, but with what was around the flower.  The lily pads surrounding the first flower are clumped together with little water appearing between them making for a less dynamic background than around the flower I chose. 
  2. Utilize the rule of thirds.  Divide the photo in thirds vertically and horizontally.  Place the subject at one of points where the horizontal and vertical lines intersect.

    Still confused about the Rule of Thirds? More on that in another post... 

  3. Look for leading lines (such as the water pointing towards the flower between the lily pads above) that help draw your eye to the subject in the photo.

  4. Try both a horizontal and vertical crop.  Note that my flower is wider than it is tall and so are the lily pads, because of that a horizontal crop is a better choice.  

  5. Don't rely on cropping to "fix a photo" where you did not have a long enough zoom! If your photo is  very large you can get away with it a little bit, but remember, the more you crop the smaller your photo dimensions will be.  

Don't forget, when you crop a photo it may lose some of its quality.  There is a way in Photoshop to remedy this problem...  Before you crop the photo go to the image menu, select image size, and in the box for resolution you'll see "pixels per inch".  Usually its 72 pixels per inch as a standard setting.  You'll want to adjust the resolution higher, as in more pixels per inch.  The higher the number you choose the larger the file size will be.  Once you change the resolution then you can crop and not worry about quality loss! 


  1. Thanks for the hints. I love the lily pads and the flower. I just want to sit by them and read a book.

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  3. Wow, your blog is so great, I really like your blog. I love the The ABCs of Photography, very helpful for me. Thanks :)


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