To Crop or Not To Crop

There were interesting discussions tonight during my Street Photography workshop at Bellevue college surrounding cropping versus getting it right in camera.  Though I do crop when I have to, I’d say that I’m in the “no cropping” school of thought.  While I’m in this category, that’s not to say that I don’t take advantage of my 36 megapixel D800 and crop like crazy when it benefits the image. 

That said, my goal is to get it right in the camera so I have a fully visualized image from the get-go.  This attitude has sharpened my vision, honed my technical skills and made me a better photographer by taking my time to compose in camera.  It also gives me more exercise because I have to use my feet to move around or get closer!  When I look at a scene, even without the camera, dog-picture2I am able to visualize what it is I want to convey in an image and how I would compose it within the frame.  This drive to get it right without cropping has, indeed, improved my technique and skills as a photographer.  I’m forced to look around the edges of the viewfinder and make sure there are no unwanted objects.  It slows me down, which in this case, is a good thing.

Then, there are those, like my student tonight, who sees nothing wrong with cropping.  He’s also right.  I personally like the 4×6 ratio that comes out of my camera.  But, admittedly, there are images that benefit from a 1×1 square crop or a panoramic crop.  And, yes, there are times when I just can’t get the shot I want because I don’t have the right lens or can’t get close enough to my subject.  OK, I admit it, I’ll crop to get what I want instead of hitting the reject button.  That doesn’t replace the feeling of accomplishment when I get it right in the camera!  And, I don’t want to be a sloppy shooter because “Hey, I’ve got 36 megapixels.  I’ll just shoot away and fix it later.” 

So, in the end, my goal is to do less and less cropping as I become a better photographer.  Maybe someday I won’t need Lightroom or Photoshop at all.   Hey, I can dream, right?

One thought on “To Crop or Not To Crop”

  1. I, too, believe in cropping post shot. Not that I wouldn’t love to always be able to get it SOOC, but I often find that what I envision isn’t readily available from my vantage point. EX: I was once stuck in traffic behind a refrigerated truck with a leaf stuck on one of its doors. The truck was a shiny stainless steel looking thing and the door was quilted and I loved the look of it. But I was not in a position to 1) get out of my car for the shot, and 2) Didn’t have the lens necessary to be able to zoom in to get the capture. I knew what I liked and wanted out of the image but it simply wasn’t feasible. So, I took what I had and cropped later and loved my image. If it comes down to not getting it right in camera or losing the shot, I’d rather take the image and play with it in PP.

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