Join Chris Orwig for an in-depth discussion in this video Why cropping matters, part of Photoshop and Lightroom: Cropping.
In this movie, I want to continue our conversation about how when we crop or recompose our photograph it, really changes everything. What I want to do is focus in on one specific example. We'll focus in on this image here. It's a portrait of a surfer. His name is Rob Machado. And here you can see the image basically as it appeared straight out of the camera except I've cropped this image significantly. Now later I'll talk about how we actually use the cropping tools. Yet here what I want to do is show you the original composition of this photograph.
Now this is something that I actually rarely show people. But I want to show it here because I think it illustrates an important point. If we access the crop tool here inside of Lightroom, you can see the original photograph as it was composed. I'll click reset so that we can see that a little bit better. Now, in this image you can see that the photograph is a little bit off center. And in this case I think it's showing too much of the subject. So, what we can do obviously, is we can crop into the image. Now as we do this we're thinking through a couple of things.
One of the things that I'm always thinking about is that often, if you can reduce and simplify, often you can say more with your photographs. I also want to think about how the hair might touch the edge of the frame so it seems like his hair, which is so wild and crazy, even goes beyond that edge and it fills up the frame. And I want to have a connection with the subject. With this particular crop here, you can see that we're closer to the subject. Even if the crop is too tall and narrow, well then, the image can feel a little bit sort of skinny and tall.
Yet we can change that, of course, by changing the overall type of the crop here, and I'll just go ahead and bring this down a little bit and change these characteristics of the crop. In doing that, you can see we have a different mood or feeling with this photograph. And as we start to crop our images, we really want to pay attention to our gut feeling. Well how does this feel? Well in this case, at least to me, I feel more connected with this subject, I feel like this image is about his wild hair, those eyes and also that splash of color on his shirt. Want to think about the lead in minds and how the lines touch the edge of the frame and were they connect with the frame and sometimes we can experiment when we are cropping, for example, with this image, perhaps we want to experiment with a little bit of a tilt and maybe an even tighter crop.
So I'll go ahead and tilt this a bit. And then we'll go ahead and apply that so you can see that here. Well now, I feel like I've lost a bit of the connection. The tilt feels a little bit gimmicky or maybe even a touch trite. And you know, we can create that tilt on camera or after the fact. And the great thing about cropping after the fact is you can teach yourself a lot about photography. Once you crop an image a certain way you can mentally log that and say, you know what, I wish I would've shot that differently. And then the next time you go and when you capture those images, you'll do that.
And in this case, I don't really like what's happened here, so my mental note is. Make sure not to rotate the camera with a photograph, like this. With other images, though, it might work well. All right, well, here I'm going to go ahead and bring this back to a little bit of a closer crop to the one that we started with. It's a little bit tricky to crop and re-compose while you're talking, or while I'm talking, but I'll try to do that. And in this case again, I'll just apply this crop here so that we can view this image a little bit closer. And perhaps most importantly, what I want to highlight here is just the importance of cropping, and how it, really shifts our images.
And this is true, whether it's a portrait, a landscape, a product, an architecture shot. And as we start to, seek to improve our photography, whether on camera or after the fact, keep in mind that often what we're looking for is that picture within the larger scene. In this case, in order to find that picture, I needed to crop in closer. And sometimes by cropping in closer, by getting closer to the subject or just reframing the image, it can help to make a stronger photograph. On the other hand, sometimes we can get too close that we're removing too much of the overall context that we're sort of lessening or diminishing a picture.
So there is no one right answer of how you should crop your photographs. Rather, what I think you want to start to do is experiement and trust your gut, and ask yourself well, how does this make me feel. Am I following these rules and guidelines, or maybe do I need to break those rules, and guidelines in order to create a more interesting frame.
- Choosing a custom aspect ratio
- Cropping and straightening quickly
- Constraining the crop
- Cropping and rotating
- Resetting or removing a crop
- Changing the orientation
- Using lens correction to straighten a photo
- Resizing with cropping
- Cropping with layer masks
- Creating diptychs and triptychs