I recently photographed some yellow gladiolas out on the fence of our vegetable garden, just after an early morning rain shower. The blossoms were bent over from the rain, parallel with the ground, not yet fallen over from the added weight of the moisture.
They were beautiful and I was drawn to shoot them.
Back looking at a contact sheet in Photo Mechanic, things got tougher. Which was the best image? Did it need a crop?
Cropping is one of the most powerful tools we have at our disposal when working on our photographs. It plays such a huge role in composition yet is not often discussed. Usually we only think about it when things didn’t quite work out in camera: much better to simply see and shoot it the way you want it to end up! But this is not always possible.
With the gladiola photos, I had several that I liked….okay. Should I crop in from the top and left? Would the composition be better as a square?
We could talk now about all of the ‘rules’ of composition…but I think these are a lot like the ‘rules’ of lighting: armchair quarterbacking after the fact, real rear-view perspectives on what at its core is a completely intuitive process: which composition creates the strongest response in me, the shooter and viewer?
So I played around with a few versions of this image. Ultimately I decided I liked this squarish version best…at least for today!
What about you? Do you have a set approach to cropping? Do you never crop your photos? Why not? Or if you do crop sometimes, how do you go about it? Consciously or intuitively?
Hi, I’m Andrew Boyd, a.k.a. The Discerning Photographer, and I hope this post has been interesting and informative. Please leave me a comment about it, let me know what you’d like to see more of on the site! You can also sign up for email delivery of all future articles or my RSS feed. Thanks!–DiscerningPhotog