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Photographers and Artists

Cropping/ Portrait or Landscape

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Cropping/ Portrait or Landscape

Postby Kay » Fri 30 Sep 2005 22:55 GMT

OK, I'm putting myself on the line here - but it's my opinion, and I'm entitled to one as much as anyone else. :D

I suppose I'm a bit of a "portrait" as opposed to a "landscape" fan.

("Portrait" being where the vertical sides of the picture are longer than the horizontal, and "landscape" being the other way around.)

The POTW slot on the BE home page (ie the thumbnail) really needs to be portrait because of the space we've allocated for it (but the picture itself as the photographer intended it to be viewed can be any format, so landscape format isn't a problem for us) but quite often I think our crops of the original picture have more impact than the original landscape format shots. Not always, of course.

Cropping is interesting. I've seen some great photos where I would never have thought to crop back so hard, yet the result can be stunning. I guess it depends on the purpose of the photo. You probably wouldn't normally cut the top of someone's head off in a picture for your wall or photo album, but it can be very effective in a magazine or website.

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Postby Savannah_Alan » Sat 1 Oct 2005 05:24 GMT

Cropping is an interesting subject. As far as portrait/landscape, I tend to think that it is most often determined by the strength of the vertical or horizontal lines (real or suggested) that comprise the composition. Like most rules though, breaking them can produce some good effects. Come to think of it, I rarely consciously think portrait or landscape. I just tend to make an instant decision about it when I look through the viewfinder. My shots comprise a fair mix of both types.

It is often a good exercise (I am told) to go through your old shots and look at them afresh by experimenting with different crops. My recent shot of my cat was a severe crop meant to produce effect. The full shot I found to be too distracting. This is one area (with digital) where a high pixel count can pay dividends.

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Postby ruggie » Sat 1 Oct 2005 15:16 GMT

I reckon careful cropping would improve most photos, particularly handheld ones. And you can sometimes create several images, each with a different impact, from the same original.

Cropping is simple and effective, and just about every bit of imaging software can do it. All you non-nerdy photographers, try it, you'll love it.

As Alan points out, cropping and then scaling up will lose definition, so if you want to use only a small fraction of your original you'll need plenty of pixels to start with, except in a few 'arty' cases where you can feature the problem instead of fixing it.
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Postby Purley » Sat 1 Oct 2005 19:53 GMT

I could never fix photos properly until I got something called Photo Explosion. That works really well. In the photo that I posted on the Your Photos thread - the one of Moose Jaw - it had a whole load of really ugly telephone lines going right across the middle of the photo. I took them out using the clone tool.

If I had to vote for a useful tool in changing photos, I would say my favourite was the clone tool and the cropping feature.

The cropping tool means you don't have to be too fussy about getting too close to a subject because you can always crop the superfluous stuff out afterwards.

When I was back in England this summer, my son was appointed to take a family group photograph. However, none turned out perfectly. Someone was always leaning forward or something. My nephew is apparently taking two of the photographs and pasting them together to make one photograph where everybody is looking at the camera. I haven't seen it yet. I have absolutely no idea how to do that - but I am really impressed that he can!
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Postby Mike » Sun 2 Oct 2005 17:14 GMT

Being a tranny person for some quarter of a century - and don't even think about misinterpreting that statement :twisted: - neither cropping nor any other facility was an option. You either got it right first time, or you wasted a shot.

Of course, when I got a PC and associated stuff, I scanned some prints and fiddled with them. But the original was never good enough.

Now, with the Digital camera as first choice, and the SLR relegated to special occasions, I crop almost as a matter of course. It's not a portrait vs. landscape thing, Kay, though clearly one format may suit a medium, as portrait suits POTW. It is just as valid, and often appropriate, to crop portrait to landscape, and for certain markets, cropping to square is required. Mostly, I only crop to remove unwanted peripheral detail. And I should have done that when firing off the shot in the first place.

But let's just keep it all in perspective. Imaging software is a useful tool. It is an excellent resource to have in your toolbox, but it will never make a poor photo good, or a good photo great.

Use your imaging software sparingly, to bring out the best in your photos. Don't fall into the image enhancement trap, which has seen the web flooded with over-enhanced, over-manipulated rubbish which the purveyors presumably see as art.

(Tirade over :) )
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Postby Kay » Sun 2 Oct 2005 18:38 GMT

Yep, there's no substitute for getting the composition right in the first place. I think almost all of my POTWs were straightforward, just as the shot was taken, images.

I tend to take portrait as a matter of course, but if the subject demands landscape then I make a deliberate decision to do it. I think maybe a lot of people do it the other way around - or don't even think about it.

Square shaped is interesting. isn't that what you'd get with a Hassleblad (spelling?) TLR format. Don't know much about them - just that I've never been able to afford one. That said, my D60 wasn't exactly cheap but it's everything I want from a camera, and more! Gotta learn how to make the most of it one of these days.
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Postby ruggie » Sun 2 Oct 2005 19:32 GMT

Square is also what you used to get with a twin lens reflex (Rollei for the serious guys, and Yashica for me when I was trying to emulate Eileen Ramsay, hanging the camera down near water level to take sailing boat pics). I gave that up after Eileen's partner pointed out that he stripped their cameras after every shoot, to get rid of the salt spray. Yachting photography has now progressed into an extremely expensive specialist game.
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Postby ruggie » Sun 2 Oct 2005 20:10 GMT

over-enhanced, over-manipulated rubbish which the purveyors presumably see as art.

Since the whole site is usually in the same style, the images don't look as crude as they would in isolation, though.

A recent French photography magazine did an excellent article on the professional digital image fixers, including getting the experts to work on a few samples and explain what they did and how. Their golden rule: the end result must not look as if it has been manipulated. They reckoned just about every image in glossy mags has been retouched, and warned young girls not to fret about trying to look like the models in the photos - the models don't look like that, either.

One amazing sample started as a very flat print of a little girl in a long dress, taken in the parents' garden, in front of a barn with various bits of distracting background. It took the pro 35 minutes to turn it into a photo in the style of National Geographic, with no detectable manipulation.
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Postby Mike » Sun 2 Oct 2005 20:38 GMT

Kay wrote:isn't that what you'd get with a Hassleblad


Yep. Always aspired to medium format, but could never afford it.

The 2006 edition of the Bureau of Freelance Photographers Market Handbook, while observing that all publishers will accept digital unless otherwise stated, still list certain card and calendar publishers who state "only medium format accepted". But I can understand that, given the repro quality required.

But all Haymarket mags, eg Practical Caravan, eschew digital, and actively discourage 35mm unless in exceptional circumstances, stating medium format is the required format. 'Scuse me? Practical Caravan? Some jobsworth in Haymarket needs to get a life.

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Postby ruggie » Mon 3 Oct 2005 07:42 GMT

If they insist in medium format, I suppose they pay accordingly? :twisted: :twisted: Like hell.
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