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An effective crop can transform a photograph. Unless you're a purist who believes that all cropping should be done in camera. Most images will benefit from being cropped. Here are some things to consider. Crop non-destructively. Programs like Photoshop and Lightroom allow you to crop images by hiding, rather than permanently deleting, the cropped portion. Your photographs may be used again in different scenarios. A crop that works for one situation may not be suitable for another, so you'll want to be able to return to the uncropped original.
You can combine your crop tool with an overlay like a rule of thirds overlay which can aid you in composing the crop. The rule of thirds is a compositional technique that predates photography. It divides an image into three rows and three columns. By aligning the subject of your image with the points of intersection of the rows and columns. You create more tension, more energy, and more interest. It may sound overly formulaic, but it really does work for most images.
Should your crop be constrained or free-form? That is, do you want the cropped result to retain the image's original aspect ratio. Or should the new cropped shape be determined solely by the subject of the image. Personally, I like to retain the 2:3 or 3:2 aspect ratio of my camera, where possible. This is because I frame the image this way in camera. And because the photo book will benefit from the consistency of having all the images at the same aspect ratio. That said there are certain subjects that just work better with a one to one or square crop.
And others that acquire a more cinematic feel from a letter box or 16 9 aspect ratio crop. Ultimately it's down to personal preference. Lastly, we return again to the issue of resolution. After cropping you will have fewer pixels then you started with make sure your image still has enough information for a good quality print.
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