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Cropping
Old 06-28-2007, 01:22 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Old habits die hard... Coming from a lot of years of portrait photography it's sometimes hard to get away from standard cropping. Doing things like never cutting into the head, centering the subject, or posing to balance the shot, etc. just come naturally. Some of the best shots I see on G1 chop off the top of the head or fly totally against basic framing rules. How do you veterans decide? Is it all decided in post processing? Or do you shoot it that way and the rule is that there is no rule?

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Re: Cropping
Old 06-28-2007, 02:42 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I'm guilty of cropping too large in the camera, and almost always cropping again in the computer.Probably from my days of trying to show the whole story.
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Re: Cropping
Old 06-28-2007, 02:51 PM   #3 (permalink)
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For my self, I find that many times some of the crops that chop off the top of the head "do not work". But often because the viewer is overwhelmed by the beauty of the subject, that they'll be less aware of the little cropping peccadillos.

I generally try to decide my cropping in camera since that's when you are most aware of the total scene and can include what you want at that time or exclude what needs to be excluded. Some people shoot very loose and later crop out distractions, but that has the downside of throwing away part of your data and thus you have less to work with in other corrections in the photo. In other words if you crop away 50% of a 10 megapixel photo then you only have a 5 megapixel photo to work with.

Ultimately we are judging what looks good to us. Often we do not really consider all of the factors but we react subjectively to a photo. On the other hand the same photo examined by a editor for a magazine may be discarded if it violates basic rules of good composition. But the other factor about cropping off body parts is that sometimes a photo must fit the context of a magazine or advertising page and thus is cropped less based on rules and more on expediency.

There are times when it works to crop off the top of the head but this will be less often the case than when it doesn't. And keep in mind, that just because 10 people say how much they like the cropping and one says he doesn't like it, that does not mean the 10 are right and the 1 wrong. Because the 10 may be saying what they're saying for "other reasons".

Quite a philosophical diatribe isn't it? Always remember, "the map is not the territory" and things will work out okay.

Cheers,
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Re: Cropping
Old 06-28-2007, 05:04 PM   #4 (permalink)
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R Fredrick Smith,

Quote:
Originally Posted by R_Fredrick_Smith View Post
For my self, I find that many times some of the crops that chop off the top of the head "do not work". But often because the viewer is overwhelmed by the beauty of the subject, that they'll be less aware of the little cropping peccadillos.

I generally try to decide my cropping in camera since that's when you are most aware of the total scene and can include what you want at that time or exclude what needs to be excluded. Some people shoot very loose and later crop out distractions, but that has the downside of throwing away part of your data and thus you have less to work with in other corrections in the photo. In other words if you crop away 50% of a 10 megapixel photo then you only have a 5 megapixel photo to work with.
Are there rules as to what is permissible and what is not with regard to the head?

The photo below was not cropped. I didn't include her whole head. I wanted a close-up at ƒ/2.8 with one eye sharply defined and the rest slightly out of focus.

I am still very much learning and experimenting. From my point of view, I think we photographers have artistic license to shoot or crop as we see fit. Obviously, there are some conventions (don't cut below the joint) that should be observed. As long as the end result results in a pleasing picture, why not?

I am curious as to what others have to say.



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Re: Cropping
Old 06-28-2007, 05:47 PM   #5 (permalink)
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The cropping of your shot works because you are closeup on the face and there is not a lot of stuff below the face that needs balance from what is above. The hair works for framing and the eyes are the central focus and also the shot has the rule of thirds working in its favor.

The classic rules of art and photography may seem like something that we should freely break if it makes a more "pleasing" shot. The problem with this idea is that we may have had an even "more pleasing" shot if we had obeyed the rules. But because we sometimes lock are selves into the shot that "breaks" the rules, we have nothing to compare it to.

So try this experiment. Shoot each shot with enough "looseness" that you can then prepare two crops of each shot --- one that follows the rules and one that breaks them. Then look at the images side by side and see which one is really the more pleasing. Then show the contrasting shots to a art professor, a magazine editor, an art critic, and so forth and get their judgement. I feel that you'll probably find that the shots that follow the rules will win out more often than those that break them.

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Re: Cropping
Old 06-28-2007, 05:57 PM   #6 (permalink)
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R Fredrick Smith,

Quote:
Originally Posted by R_Fredrick_Smith View Post
The cropping of your shot works because you are closeup on the face and there is not a lot of stuff below the face that needs balance from what is above. The hair works for framing and the eyes are the central focus and also the shot has the rule of thirds working in its favor.
Okay, I wasn't sure if the head rule applied to all shots or just some.

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Originally Posted by R_Fredrick_Smith View Post
The classic rules of art and photography may seem like something that we should freely break if it makes a more "pleasing" shot. The problem with this idea is that we may have had an even "more pleasing" shot if we had obeyed the rules. But because we sometimes lock are selves into the shot that "breaks" the rules, we have nothing to compare it to.

So try this experiment. Shoot each shot with enough "looseness" that you can then prepare two crops of each shot --- one that follows the rules and one that breaks them. Then look at the images side by side and see which one is really the more pleasing. Then show the contrasting shots to a art professor, a magazine editor, an art critic, and so forth and get their judgement. I feel that you'll probably find that the shots that follow the rules will win out more often than those that break them.
I am positive that the majority of the pleasing shots will be those that follow the conventions or rules. Nonetheless, your exercise is a good one.

In one of my prior shots, I lost points for cutting off part of the head--and deservedly so. (http://www.glamour1.com/forums/photo...gislature.html) I am already convinced of the need or desire to generally follow the rules. Still I like your exercise.

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Kevin
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Re: Cropping
Old 06-28-2007, 08:32 PM   #7 (permalink)
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if it looks good, screw the rules. if not, a few rules can be a good thing.
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Re: Cropping
Old 06-28-2007, 08:49 PM   #8 (permalink)
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if it looks good, screw the rules. if not, a few rules can be a good thing.
But my observation is that it may "look good", but what if following the rule makes it "look better"? I think too often we shortchange the "rules" by only shooting the "rule breaking" shot and then having nothing to compare it to.

And how often were the "rules" broken on "purpose" as opposed to being broken from either not knowing them or just forgetting, or being in too much of a hurry?

So the test I suggest might have merit for most photographers to teach them when they "really" should break the rules. What do you think?

Cheers,
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Re: Cropping
Old 06-28-2007, 09:08 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by R_Fredrick_Smith View Post
But my observation is that it may "look good", but what if following the rule makes it "look better"? I think too often we shortchange the "rules" by only shooting the "rule breaking" shot and then having nothing to compare it to.

And how often were the "rules" broken on "purpose" as opposed to being broken from either not knowing them or just forgetting, or being in too much of a hurry?

So the test I suggest might have merit for most photographers to teach them when they "really" should break the rules. What do you think?

Cheers,
rfs
Obviously, rules (aesthetic rules, that is) aren't usually broken to great results without the rule breakers first having a working knowledge of the rules they're breaking. Most of the great painters, for instance, who first pursued impressionistic, abstract, and other artistic genres were first educated and became accomplished in the classical approaches to painting. They then went on to break the rules and, literally, founded new schools of art. Some people have the imagination, the eye, and the skills to effectively break the rules. Other don't and are better suited to applying the rules.
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Re: Cropping
Old 06-29-2007, 10:49 AM   #10 (permalink)
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About those "rules", they are not really 'rules' at all, instead they are guidelines. A mistake many make is to feel free to break those 'rules' before they know what they are and why they are there in the first place. I had a similar problem when I first began serious commercial work, but my problem was going too tight in the crop. One advantage I had was that I was dating a pro graphic designer, one of those gals who actually does the layout in the mags and ads. She used to scream at me, "More room, leave "me" some room for my layout". She wanted negative space outside of the main image area to allow room to add ad text and/or to arrange the crop in the mag space allocated it. As a result I often found myself shooting the same image twice, once with negative space around it and once for my taste. Give that a try, it might help and you know you'll like one of them.
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