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Business / Philosophy of Photography Taking pics is one thing, but understanding why we take them, what they mean, what they are best used for, how they effect our reality -- all of these and more are important issues of the Philosophy of Photography. One of the best authors on the subject is Susan Sontag in her book "On Photography."

View Poll Results: Do you crop?
I will crop without hesitation 99 50.25%
I don't crop or try my best not to 55 27.92%
It depends / other (there always seems to be a need for this option) 43 21.83%
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Do you crop?
Old 04-10-2013   #1
msbarnes
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Do you crop?

I don't look down upon people who crop, but I don't.

I guess I may crop a little bit on the computer, mostly to level things out or to take a bit away from the edges but I always print full frame and leave a bit of the border. I mostly like consistency in aspect ratios.
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Old 04-10-2013   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by msbarnes View Post
I guess I may crop a little bit on the computer, mostly to level things out or to take a bit away from the edges
Yeah, that's me... and to control perspective at times since I don't have tilt shift lenses. However, then I compose with added info in my frames so I still can have exactly what I want in my frame once the perspective has been corrected.
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Old 04-10-2013   #3
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I always try for the best composition I can get when shooting... but i won't hesitate to crop if that provides a better composition upon review.
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Old 04-10-2013   #4
ruby.monkey
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If the image needs cropping, I'll crop; if it doesn't, I won't.
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Old 04-10-2013   #5
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of course i crop...do you edit your poetry or prose?
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Old 04-10-2013   #6
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I only print 8x10's and shoot to APS format. So . . . I crop for printing.

To post to a web page, the web page layout rules, so I crop there also.
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Old 04-10-2013   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by back alley View Post
of course i crop...do you edit your poetry or prose?
Good analogy.
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Old 04-10-2013   #8
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I never need to crop because my framing is always perfect. Except when it's not--in which case then I crop
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Old 04-10-2013   #9
carpark
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I try to never crop my photos. It becomes a little harder these days as I use a rangefinder and sometimes small things that I did not see at the time can appear at the edges. I usually discard these images. Force of habit
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Old 04-10-2013   #10
Dunn
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I very, very rarely crop. When I do it's only a very tiny bit to maybe level the horizon or take out something near the edges that I think is overly distracting. I just don't like cropping. I think it helps me really focus on my composition when taking photos. And I actually hate how I have to crop to print at 8x10 because when I compose that's how I want the photo to look, not a cropped version of it.
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Old 04-10-2013   #11
gns
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I like the idea of working with the frame the camera gives you. But I will clean up an edge or straighten a horizon by cropping.

This is always one of those touchy subjects here. One person says they work a certain way and another goes on the defense thinking he's being told that his way is not as good.

There are different ways to work. The best way is what make sense to you.

Re: Poetry. Look up. "first thought, best thought", or Beats.
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Old 04-10-2013   #12
msbarnes
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I guess another level of complexity is how you display your work....like if you print 8x10, comply to website layout rules, and etc. I don't use the entire paper (8x10 in my case) myself.

I'm not a poet or writer but I don't see how that necessarily applies if I were. I will look up "first thought, best thought"/beats.
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Old 04-10-2013   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dunn View Post
I very, very rarely crop. When I do it's only a very tiny bit to maybe level the horizon or take out something near the edges that I think is overly distracting. I just don't like cropping. I think it helps me really focus on my composition when taking photos. And I actually hate how I have to crop to print at 8x10 because when I compose that's how I want the photo to look, not a cropped version of it.
you can add a canvas in photoshop so it prints the way you want it to look.


just an example.


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Old 04-10-2013   #14
Monochrom
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Hi, nice question!

In the beginning i cropped without hesitation but the more i shoot the less i crop...of course i try to get closer or to compose better in order to avoid cropping, so it´s an excercise to get better about shooting...i don´t think cropping is betraying format or whatever...so keep cropping if you think you should!

Of course there are times when you have to crop, for instance when people work with square formats or the meaning in the pics need to be very clear...

Bye!
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Old 04-10-2013   #15
Doug Smith
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I much prefer prints in either 8x10 format or square and have never been very found of 35mm's 2x3 ratio, so for printing I almost always crop when coming from 35mm. However for 120 or 4x5 I almost never crop.
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Old 04-10-2013   #16
thegman
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I don't really like to crop, nothing massively against it, just don't like to.
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Old 04-10-2013   #17
FrankS
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I try my best to do my cropping/selecting in the camera viewfinder before the picture is taken, but if it can be improved by cropping during printing, then sure.
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Old 04-10-2013   #18
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99% of pictures I take I crop, tight and bright
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Old 04-10-2013   #19
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I do sometimes crop again after shooting;
every rectangular photo is a crop of the image circle the lens projects.
I try to use all the format but, when I seen my result, I will crop again as needed to get to the image I was trying to get.
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Old 04-10-2013   #20
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I crop according to what I see in the VF - obviously more often w/ accessory Vfs or RFs.

However, I don't crop a landscape photo into portrait... I stay with the ratio & orientation that I shot the image with.
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Old 04-10-2013   #21
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Without hesitation if I feel the necessity to do so.

It is satisfying to get it right in the camera ... which is probably why I lean towards the SLR.

I also like Joe's analogy.
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Old 04-10-2013   #22
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I'd be curious to find out how many anti croppers are comfortable using a zoom lens?
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Old 04-10-2013   #23
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Were I perfect, I wouldn't crop as much as I do, but I'd still do it (mostly to get around minimum focusing distance composition flaws). As it is, I crop a fair bit. I also rotate images to level my horizons out (if I was shooting for basically a level horizon), but not if doing so means I hurt the composition.
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Old 04-10-2013   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Keith View Post
It is satisfying to get it right in the camera ... which is probably why I lean towards the SLR.
...or LCD screens/ EVFs for me.... for obvious reasons I crop less with these.
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Old 04-10-2013   #25
Harry Caul
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I've been shooting a Polaroid lately, so I definitely don't crop those! It is especially tough as the exact frame line coverage changes with focal distance... not to mention parallax issues.
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Old 04-10-2013   #26
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I voted "it depends".

If I see a skyline which I like, I can visualize a result which is likely much wider than it is tall, so I expect to lose the top and/or bottom in the darkroom. Other times, I may be shooting 6x6 and see a rectangular composition, again I will lose the unwanted parts in the darkroom. Sometimes, I will choose a composition on 35mm film which will be more square than the 3:2 ratio, so I will lose the edges in the darkroom. Additionally, one can frequently consider the proportions of the size of paper one anticipates printing on, as a factor in choosing variations of some particular composition. When the subject is available, it makes sense to shoot alternatives, for different end products.

I think the vehement anti-crop idea came about because of a combination of the lower film qualities available historically and reaction to a "no composition - we'll sort it out later" style of shooting. The latter point would have been heavily stressed on most educational courses and has become a dogma of it's own. Even M.Cartier-Bresson didn't make every picture in 3:2 format - but I'm fairly sure he knew what he wanted before clicking the shutter, as should the rest of us.

There was a prototype digital camera in Japan which was made for placing on party tables. When it saw some programmed arrangement/quantity of faces it would focus and make a picture. Even that cost-less (per image) party camera wasn't simply random.
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Old 04-10-2013   #27
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I frequently crop. I do this because my shooting is almost exclusively as "art" and the image's aspect ratio is dictated by the subject and not some need to meet a client's spec'd image shape nor do I slavishly let the camera's aspect ratio dictate my composition.

That said, I rarely crop both dimensions. I do my best to frame the image properly when shooting so that I only have to crop one dimension to achieve the desired shape. My images tend to float between roughly the 4:3 native aspect ratio of my m43rd camera through the common 3:2 to about 2:1 for horizontal "landscapes". Squares and wider panoramas are rare but occasionally a subject screams for one or the other.
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Old 04-10-2013   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by back alley View Post
of course i crop...do you edit your poetry or prose?
I try to compose with the viewfinder. Often when reviewing a photo the composition/image can be improved by cropping. I consider cropping as much a part of the photographic process as dodging or burning in (darkening or lightening in digital speak). To each his own.
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Old 04-10-2013   #29
Bill Clark
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All the time.

When making photographs, I may need the space as I see folks desire different sized enlargements.

I make photos allowing room to crop.

One important reason I capture using RAW.
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Old 04-10-2013   #30
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If you print in the darkroom using an enlarger, you'd immediately feel that cropping is a natural part of the process, 35mm negative does not have the same ratio as any of the popular paper format, neither is 6x6. So you crop, or end up with a lot of white space and smaller print (okay in some cases).

Cropping that enhances the look of a photograph, is part of the process that creates the final image. It does not in any way diminish the satisfaction of creating a good composition.

To me, getting a perfect composition in the shot is akin to scoring a basket from the middle of the court. I'd be elated for about 4 minutes, but I don't expect myself to do it regularly.
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Old 04-10-2013   #31
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It's all about making good pictures.

I crop for three reasons: aspect ratio, subject isolation and to make an effective composition. These can all be related.

Aspect ratio is sometimes to do with print media and sometimes to better isolate the subject and make a more effective composition. Some subjects just work better with a particular aspect ratio, regardless of what camera and format you used.

Subject isolation is often when I'm caught out with a wider lens than I wanted, and can't get closer to the subject. Or when I can't avoid an intrusive element when taking the picture, but can remove it and improve the picture by cropping.

Ideas for a more effective composition can sometimes occur at the review stage. Sometimes details can make effective pictures in their own right, and sometimes multiple crops from the same image can work equally well, even telling entirely different stories.

Why limit the possibilities? It's the end result that counts. No-one cares whether you cropped or not.

If the knowledge that you composed within the frame without cropping is important to you, then by all means be happy with that. Photography is a mental exercise and everyone is different. To me, cropping is a non-issue. All that matters is the pictures.
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Old 04-10-2013   #32
Steve Bellayr
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11x14 is not the same ratio as a 35mm negative therefore cropping always occurs.
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Old 04-10-2013   #33
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Bellayr View Post
11x14 is not the same ratio as a 35mm negative therefore cropping always occurs.
?? no logic here
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Old 04-10-2013   #34
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I try to let the picture tell me the crop not the camera. That said, I'm restricted to store bought frames and mats so I tend to stay in those ratios.
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Old 04-10-2013   #35
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no crop no zoom no AF.

I have the privilege of sticking to my principles. my subjects rarely move, I shoot relatively high magnification lenses (one of my most used lenses being a macro), and no one will buy my photos so I can just do as I please.

I will crop unimportant pictures (e.g. selling something). I used to crop more, but these days Im perfectly happy with a composition that's a little loose.
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Old 04-10-2013   #36
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If I have time to frame perfectly, cropping is not necessary.
This ideal situation rarely occurs in most of my street shooting situations,
so consequently, there is a need to crop out distracting stuff that jumped into the frame w/o permission.

If the answer to "Is this part of the photo important for the context" is "No", then it will be cropped.
Easy as that.
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Old 04-10-2013   #37
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Maybe once every Haley's comet cycle, but nope.
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Old 04-10-2013   #38
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shadowfox View Post
If you print in the darkroom using an enlarger, you'd immediately feel that cropping is a natural part of the process, 35mm negative does not have the same ratio as any of the popular paper format, neither is 6x6. So you crop, or end up with a lot of white space and smaller print (okay in some cases).
Likewise, if you shoot slides, you feel compelled to get it right the first time. And that's where an SLR with 100% viewfinder coverage can be a great asset.

Not disagreeing with your statement, mind you. I'm an unrepentant cropper myself, but I can see why photographers who grew up on slides might look down on cropping when printing.
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Old 04-10-2013   #39
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I try to avoid cropping. I really only do it when using telephoto lenses as the whole reason why I'd use a telephoto lens is to photograph something far away.
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Old 04-10-2013   #40
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I see absolutely nothing wrong with cropping and will crop if I feel it will improve the final product.
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