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Saturday, 01 December 2012


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Sounds similar to the little soliloquy's some photographers give when they think "straight out of the camera" is some kind of requirement for a "true photograph" or a "true piece of art" or something.

It usually sounds something like "It's exactly as I shot it..... well I did have to sharpen of course.... and I straightened the horizon.... but that's it.... and I did bump the saturation and contrast I guess.... but it's no different than what you could do in a darkroom.... and I cloned out a water bottle, but I could have picked it up if I had thought of it.... "

Not that I expect an award any time soon, but haven't done it in the last 35 years- the reasons twofold. The first being, as one photographer put it back in the day, "The 35mm negative is small enough as is, you don't want to decrease image quality further by making it even smaller." Secondly, I just think it's a damn good discipline to get into when starting out- forces you to think about lens selection (and what each can and can't do in different situations), forces you to think about what you're trying to achieve and visualize how the image will ultimately look like, and ultimately helps you to attain a particular style (or change it).

I only ever crop when I need to.

Which, for better or worse, is quite often.

Remember when some photographers filed-out their negative holder so that you could see that their prints were un-cropped??

The funny thing about this yet one more "badge" of real photographers - I also love the "there has been no manipulation of the image" is that you ALL crop every-time you take a picture, EVERY-TIME.

But here's instead of cropping it's artistically called framing. Whatever, it is cropping.

The only photographers that don't crop are those of us that shoot and stitch full 360 by 180. This is the only time that framing takes on a non-cropped meaning. And believe me it's very different framing a full 360 by 180 verses a normal (you say framed I say cropped :)) still.

Real Photographers don't follow any rules and do whatever they need to to make an image.

Cheers, and Happy Holidays,

Robert Harshman

Never say "never!"

No composition should be limited by the aspect ratio of a camera. Cropping frees the image from that needless restriction. It may be true that remaining "in that box" develops visual discipline, but, I believe, it more often leads to loss of compositonal quality.

I often crop. However, most often it is because I saw something that I wanted to shoot square, or 2:3 (I'm shooting m43rds now) and there isn't a quick way to do that in camera. It is also common when I don't have enough reach with my lens and I can't get closer (birds mostly) - those shots are unlikely to be works of art. And ok I admit, occasionally because I didn't visualize the shot in the most optimal way. Meh, so sue me. I like the results.

Does anyone print 8x10 from full frame 35mm?

I agree that cropping is something that someone does after the fact, by I don't think that it necessarily has to be in order to correct bad framing.

Your usage for distortion correction is one case where this isn't the reason. When you cropped your ebay product photo so as to avoid perspective distortion was another. Another case would be someone who wanted a specific aspect ratio for their photo, and their camera was incapable of capturing in that format.

Perhaps it is merely this reframing that you object to, rather than cropping per se?

I shoot a 3:2 sensor, but I prefer 4:5 output (and sometimes 1:1,) so I crop immediately on input into my raw converter. I rarely even look at the pics in 3:2 ratio, unless 3:2 is my original intent.

I know beforehand what ratio I'll be using, so I frame accordingly. Not exactly sure what you call that, if you're previsualizing your crop at capture, and cropping everything after the fact due to your native sensor ratio.

Frame loosely so you don't have to crop, just trim here and there a little bit. Let's call it the 28 technique.

Well, zooming is cropping in a way.

I seldom "crop", I just sometimes have to leave a little spare around the "frame" to account for distortion correction and the fact that, quite often, 3:2 doesn't work as well as, say, 16:9 or 1:1. Or I just can't get in close enough with the lens I have mounted.

So, yes I crop, but not usually unintentionally...

I might even have used this as a Quote o' the Day before.

As the opening blockquote in Aspects of Aspect Ratios (1/29/2012). An easy "rule" to remember because of the way he said it. And one I abide by even if my camera is only a 12 MP.

When shooting portraits with a tripod* in available light, I use the in-camera 1x1 option and if need be, crop that further to a portrait-oriented 3x4 in post. I don't know yet how these crops will render in print and at which print size. (Native 4x3 = 10.7MP (max); 1x1 = 8.1MP; cropped 3x4 = 6.2MP).

I'll continue cropping thus until I've fabricated a custom L-bracket to hold the camera vertically. The ones available online are frightfully expensive esp. the quick-release types.

*My 1.8/75mm (112 mm-e) portrait lens is nose-heavy hand held.

Maybe we could collect some edgy aphorisms.

'Edges. There be Monsters here.'



Pretty much ALL pictures are 2D from the start :) And pretty much every photographer has cropped images from the start. Even 360 work many times includes limits on the view or a crop. Perhaps we can agree that every image or view is framed and cropped or cropped and framed :) based on the format. Robert

I've been shooting square 1:1 lately and love the challenge of composing in camera and not cropping. It's like a workout where you'r focusing on one muscle group, knowing it will have overall benefits later.

But cropping isn't always due to one's deficiencies. I intentionally frame a bit wider, for reasons described in the column discussing the 28.

I would likewise frame with the intent to crop if the lens mounted was not appropriate and a lens change wasn't possible, or when the aspect ratio didn't suit the visualized image. I would still frame as carefully as possible with the end in mind...the print. This probably wouldn't be possible if I didn't spend years framing with the intent not to crop.

I agree though that most cropping likely results from lazier, more ineffectual framing.

I only crop when no one is looking.

Crop, schmop. Is it the end product that counts, or the way it was arrived at? One of HCB's most famous photographs, the guy jumping across a pool of water on a construction site, was cropped - for good reason. How many people know that? How many people care? It's a great photograph.

You need a way for us (me) to "Like" a comment or declaration. An unfortunate outgrowth of Facebook...

I "Like!" your response.

According to his website (FrankDiPerna.com), he is still teaching at Corcoran and living in Purcellville, VA.

I crop every single photo I take. I prefer 10:16 to 2:3, and I compose with that aspect ratio in mind and the crop in post is nothing--it's so ingrained that I rarely even remember making it. The composition was decided when I shot, the act of cropping is just a formality.


I do hate any further cropping--a couple dozen pixels off the sides to tidy up the edges is okay, but more than that entails much soul-searching and self-flagellation. I'll crop the file, feel terrible and uncrop it, then recrop it slightly differently, feel terrible and uncrop it again...over and over and over for days, sometimes weeks.

It's especially ridiculous since I don't even consider photos that require more than a 10% crop on the horizontal axis. More than that and the photo goes into the reject pile. No soul-searching, no angst, just gone.

I'm with Mike, I like to frame my images as much as possible without having to crop afterwards, but then there are always exceptions to the rule.

I just crop the crap.

I do not crop :)......I expand into a circle.....and leave the cropping to the viewer (or he or she can buy a CAVE).


Greets, Ed.

I wouldn't say I never crop.... like the old cyclist who, when asked if he had ever taken drugs, replied "Only when I had to". "And when was that?", "Most of the time".

I often feel that consistent aspect ratios are important when putting together a portfolio - not sure everyone will agree - and maybe there is a correlation with the "framing" aspect of the comments here. I often use the aspect ratio crop constraint in LIghtroom, and I feel somehow happier with this rather than the arbitrary photo-within-a-photo type of cropping. Just a modification of the original viewfinder image.

For years while shooting with film I printed 99% of my 35mm negatives full frame. My 6x6 film portraits were printed mostly full frame, but most 6x6 scenery shots were cropped.

Since I moved on to shooting with a digital SLR two years ago I've become a cropping whore. I find myself framing horizontally in camera for width, and mentally cropping for height to be done post.

Semantics, when you get down to it, I would humbly posit. All that matters in the end, no matter framing, cropping, camera, lens, film/digital, etc... is the photograph. While many decisions are important to the photographer, what makes or breaks in the end, is... is the photograph "good"? Whatever decisions the photographer makes to get to that final product are, in a real sense, immaterial. If the photograph is "good" then those were good decisions; if not, then... Sort of like that post a while ago about the photographer who had used Amidol to process the photographs. If the photo is not "good" what possible difference does it make how s/he got to that final product? None. Walker Evans was famous for "cropping" his photographs and not being ashamed to admit it. All that matters is what is hanging on the wall.

Now was it cropping or digital zooming???

The idea that cropping is inherently inferior to "framing correctly" is to believe that the inherent aspect ratios available in-camera are sacrosanct. Which is untrue.
That "habitually cropping" leads to an inability to frame "correctly" is equally untrue.
That it's always possible to "frame correctly" with the lens(es) available at the time of shooting is clearly wrong.
The final image is the only thing that counts.

Cropping just means you weren't close enough to begin with.

I crop. Period. I crop because my camera's native format is 4:3 and I hate this size, so I convert my pictures to the much more pleasing 3:2. And I do eliminate unwanted portions of the image if I can - even if I use negative space very often. Occasionally, I even commit the fault of turning horizontal pictures into vertical ones, if I believe that makes the picture work better. So I crop. As Miles Davis would have put it, 'So What?'
My only objection to cropping is to use it as a means of zooming in. It is wrong in so many levels. It reduces resolution, which is an impediment for those of us who still believe the ultimate destiny of a picture is to be printed. And it negates the need to learn how to deal with telephoto lenses.
Other than that, I can't see why cropping is so objectionable.

Mike: your reply to the featured comment seems to me to be 'framing'in the sense communications people use that word

"If you crop habitually, you're unlikely to ever become good at framing."

Oh yeah? Tell that to Kertész.

Sorry chaps, but I see two ideas here which have always struck me as total BS. The first is that it took "Art photographers" to make colour pictures respectable, something like half a century or more after extremely interesting colour photographic images were being made (by a variety of means) and the second is that cropping is something close to what religious nuts call mortal sin.

There are other ideas which I don't personally go along with, such as that making a technically brilliant print of a correctly exposed image depicting an utterly boring subject is worth doing, but those are secondary issues.

All photographers can do, or ever have been able to do, is to tell us something which they find interesting about human life or about the natural world in which human life exists. With any luck the rest of us will find that interesting too. If a photographer is sufficiently perceptive we may become emotionally invoved as well as interested.

Beware of BS. Galleries are full of it!

I agree with S.Conner. Its the final result that counts. I sometimes crop subtly to straighten out a frame, remove a slight distraction from the edge etc. Every now and then (once or twice a year) something will jump out at me from an extreme crop of the frame—why not!

The best way to learn how to shoot photos that don't require cropping is to crop all that ones that do.

Every time you crop a photo and say to yourself "Ah, that's how I should have framed that shot!" you get better at framing your subsequent photos and make it less likely that you'll want/need to crop them.

Regarding C.C. Embrey's post, I remember when that "thin black line" was practically a requirement for prints. The Leitz Focomat enlarger was very much in demand since the negative carrier was large enough to print black borders by default.
Possible "acceptable" reasons to crop:
1. You don't have a long enough lens, e.g., I used to crop the majority of my pictures taken with a 50mm lens, until I could trade it in on a 75mm, which is my ideal focal length.
2. You prefer a different proportion to your pictures, e.g., 2:3 instead of 4:5. Sometimes a landscape picture looks way better as a panoramic.

Perhaps the world cannot be represented in a single aspect ratio.

There's nothing sacred or holy about the proportions of any image - whether as seen in the viewfinder, on screen or as a print - what works, works. And though most of us feel that little extra thrill of self-congratulation when framing in camera works perfectly, sometimes you make (have to make) an image in the full knowledge that you will later crop it.

I know what you mean by strident. I've never understood the term "hopping mad" until I argued with another photographer that his belief about cropping, which he equated with dishonesty, was just as subjective as any other choice or edit anywhere in the workflow. He was literally jumping up and down in front of me yelling "NO IT ISN'T!"

My cropping habits depend on the kind of photography I am doing. For street photos, I try not to crop at all even if I'm shooting a wide angle (Sigma 19mm on the NEX-7) and can't get too close to the subject. I like the serendipitous framing you get when shooting "blind" from the hip and forcing myself not to crop imposes a shot discipline. It forces me to get closer and and concentrate more on positioning.

For landscape using multi-frame stitching, cropping is a way of life unless you like ragged black bits on the borders. There's no natural aspect ratio when stitching so it makes sense to adapt your shooting pattern to the scene at hand and crop as necessary.

Going further though, for spherical panos, there's no cropping of the final output but there is lots of scope for cropping the individual frames, especially if there are moving aspects to the scenes (people, cars etc.) and you need to make sure the seams blend properly.

What I find amusing is on photo critique threads where someone has posted a rather ordinary and bland photo, invariably someone will suggest a crop as if it will solve the inherent weaknesses of the original. Only rarely do I find that a radical crop will save a photo, mostly all it does is "rearrange the deck chairs".


I don't crop much. First, I'm too lazy to contemplate my compositions again. Second, in my view a photograph shouldn't be "perfect". It's the old surrealistic idea of the objet trouvé, I suppose. I don't pose my human subjects nor arrange the scene or illuminate it. I just photograph what I see the way I feel and hope that my experience is transcended to the viewer. My results are seldom awe inspiring. However, they're often good enough for me.

I realize your stand Mike but I for one would like to see some of the arguments/assertions proposed about the sanctity of not cropping. Oops there I go.
As another counter argument I find it difficult to frame on the fly many of my action animal/bird photos with a tripod mounted 500 mm or handheld 400 mm lens. I try to be loose in framing, for example, to allow for a bird to fly into that space in front. But square works other times.
I would like to know if the conclusions are drawn deductively from given premises and what those premises might be. An argument could be valid but not sound. But that's just me.
Nature lover

I crop pretty frequently. My initial photos are raw materials for the ongoing process of turning them into the images I want. I've recently been working on one photo I quite like, cropping and working it to produce 3:2, 3:1, and 2 triptych images.

My general philosophy is that they're my photos and I can pretty much do what I want with them... :)

"Much to my surprise, it turns out that cropping is a status issue—"

Actually it shouldn't surprise you Mike. Much of the discussion about photography hinges on status - status of equipment and technique. Silly, indeed irrelevant stuff. Of course DiPerna is correct. What is photography but the effort to create interesting and/or beautiful images using various light recording technologies? Cropping is as useful a technique as any - choice of emulsion, camera, lens, framing, exposure, processing, even post-processing intervention like scratching or painting on the print, you name it. It's just another parameter in the creative process. If it works it's valid.

I can't believe people argue about this.

What if you frame a scene that you know will later require cropping because the subject matter doesn't fit into the aspect ratio of the camera you happen to have in your hands at that moment. If you know you're going to do it later, is it framing or is it cropping? Maybe it's post-exposure framing? Maybe it's pre-exposure cropping since you're intending to do it right from the start. Or would that be virtual framing? Or virtual cropping?

"If you're good at framing, you seldom have to crop. If you crop habitually, you're unlikely to ever become good at framing."

That is hogwash. Hopefully tongue in cheek hogwash.

Along the same lines as 'you can't learn to be a photographer without using a manual camera'. Not to forget the ever popular 'you can't do black and white with a digital camera'. Finally 'you can't be a real photographer unless you use film'. Oh, I forgot one more 'digital cameras are just computers, anyone can make a good picture with a digital camera'.

I have heard all those opinions in this blog. Some seem to have been put forth as serious comments.

I read a better version recently that went along the lines of:

"I never crop. And when I do, I never let on".

The only photos I sometimes crop are my digital shots (maybe 10% of what I shoot) because I care less about them. It's a discipline thing that arose from an effort to learn how to compose, to learn my lenses. Also, an effort to avoid wasting time after the fact through my own indecisiveness. If I didn't get it right in the camera I either learned to live with and appreciate its imperfections in aspects that cropping could correct, or I tossed it and learned from it and improved as a result.

Out of sheer laziness, I rarely crop.

Regarding Behind the Gare St. Lazare. Proof HCB cropped it is here.

You took the raisins, you didn't take the raisins, you crop, you don't crop. I sure am getting old, and I must be getting cranky.

to the extent that one embraces a "no cropping" policy because it gives them more enjoyment . . . . . great, they enjoy the challenge and they feel that the practice of "no cropping" supports their intent to excel at the craft of photography as the conceive of it. that's all fine. But, if some one get righteous or fundamentalist about it, if they think it makes a picture "better", well that would just seem sort of stupid to me. ironically i'm pretty sure winogrand had a personal "no cropping" policy and i would have liked to have heard what he would have said about it . . . it's certainly one thing to carefully compose an image and to my mind quite a different matter to shoot without even bringing the camera to ones eye. to me, besides being about "aesthetics" the question of cropping evokes conversation about "control" and "acceptance" . i guess it comes down to what a person is doing or what they think they're doing . perhaps how relaxed or tight assed they are about life . . .. . .

A lot of my photography is wide open for photo stitching. The stitching process is not perfect and overlaps from handheld shots will force some cropping to the final image. However, recently I have been paying closer attention to the individual pictures being used for the stitching. For found there was an occasional nice photo within the individual frame if cropped. Usually I seem to be looking for the square format from the rectangular full image. Sometimes that full image will also work, even though it was not shot with the intent of it being used singularly. Paying attention to the details within the image really matters.

I think it's important to consider aspect ratio when photographs comprise a series, e.g. in a monograph, portfolio, or exhibition. Some thoughtful variation often livens things up, but I very much dislike layouts where aspect ratios are all over the place. So, for me, shooting to a particular aspect ratio is second nature. Mark me down on the side of framing with intent.

I have spend a youth and a fortune chasing HCB's moment in a purist uncropped form, learned to frame my work expertly in the process and also discarded negs I wish I could lay my hands on again today, to apply what matters most in good image work, the final print result.

If one does follow the argument that a 35mm or 6x7 negative are of the outmost important value to the end result, then one submits a good deal of one's creative process to an engineers decision to create a camera to use the plentyful supply of 35mm film stock in the days when, e.g. Leica, or the 35mm system was created.

And engineers do make amazing wares for the creatives to use, but under their own perimeters for their creative output. It is an amazing study and discipline to work uncropped, but for the end result of good art on the wall it is a secondary concern.

Gary I- No worries either way, but one could also make the argument that the tight assed ones are those forever trying to perfect they're work by selective cropping, as opposed to those who say- it either works... or it doesn't.

Nice work BTW!

You were cropping comments?

I started photographing when Super-XX was the most popular fast film in 4x5 and Tri-X was rated ASA 200. The grain was such that my instructors and editors pounded framing in camera (a 4x5 neg just made a 2 column-5inch breaking news print.) I still try to fill the frame, but I am not afraid to crop as necessary. Editors and art directors, on the other hand....

40 years ago I rarely cropped. I shot 35mm, composed the frame carefully at the time of shooting, and filed my negative carrier to give a black border so I could demonstrate my allegiance to the true faith. Don't know about it being a status symbol but I will plead guilty to fetishism on the practice.

Fast forward 40 years during most of which I never touched a camera, and I've started shooting again with micro four thirds. This time around I'm cropping, often because I don't have a long enough lens, sometimes because I didn't get close enough, and sometimes because I fail to hold the camera horizontal and/or vertical. I seem to have become comfortable with cropping for those reasons though I'd prefer not to. I think I'm a bit like a reformed addict, it might not take much to get me to fall off the wagon and become a die hard "no cropper" again.

I do think that not cropping, at least for a period, is a good discipline to follow. It teaches a lot about framing and composition and that's always a good thing. I think it's also a good thing to shoot tighter rather than too loose, but it's not a good thing to shoot too tight. You can't recover what you left out with the shutter. It would be nice to be able to shoot "just right" all of the time and never crop but I no longer get things as perfect as I did 40 years ago, or should that be "as perfect as I thought I did…"?

When I visit an exhibition, or when I look at pictures in a book I never ask myself if the photos have been cropped or not. Which means for me it is not a problem. Personally I try never to do it, and in the cases I just crop a very small area. But if I notice that with an "heavy" crop I can make a real good photo out from a mediocre one why not? It s the final result which counts.
PS: the photo ratio I like is 2/3 (long time 35mm shooter). Now, that interesting OM-D with its 4/3 ratio could force me to crop more or not? Not yet decided if buy or not...

I crop most often because the center focus point works best on my camera, and that is most inconvenient for me. I am forced to crop to create the composition I want.

It's not whether the photographer wants to crop. it is whether the picture needs cropping. The final composition is all that matters. Not unlike for a painter, musician,or any other creative person, the decision is to present the final composition in its most meaningful way. The truth is in the message that is being conveyed.

The pick of the crop? Bresson admitted to cropping [you mean framing --Ed.] the photograph to the way he liked it and then desisting from any further cropping of the photograph after making the final print. This makes sense to me, especially when one understands the craft in making a print. Why give a printer the continual headache of changing the crop? The only absolute in photography is there are not absolutes - all physics and chemistry aside...

I've always framed in camera with the intent to not have to crop the final image. In my mind it improves my photography and is efficient to boot.

But if I have to due to something such as an error or a change in judgment later, I do it and don't worry about it. The quality of the final image is more important than any quasi-religious view on cropping post exposure.

I shoot a lot of half-frame. An 18X24mm negative doesn't leave much room to crop so if at all possible I try to frame carefully. How do I handle small negatives? I make small prints. My standard size on 8X10 paper is 6X8 with a resulting 1 inch border all around. My full frame 35mm negs are also printed small, 6X9 on 8X10 paper. I did try printing a half-frame negative on 11X14 with 1/4 inch border just once. that was enough to make me go back to small prints. The 11X14 paper was free and at the time I still had just enough room for 16X20 trays.

Every single D800 photo that has ever been printed has been cropped, and I can prove it. The D800 photos are 7360x4912 pixels, which is not a perfect 3:2 aspect ratio. You are forced to crop to fit it on the paper :-P

Are you not constantly word cropping as you edit written material?


If you really want to make un-cropped images, shoot Polaroid.

I prefer the 5/4 ratio, so I crop almost everything. I would love to have a dslr or mirrorless camera that has that sweet ratio. Or square would do. But I have the 35mm 3/2 ratio that most of us have so I frame according to what I desire and remove the extraneous bits in post processing. You want to talk discipline?

It's about the photograph, not the crop/no crop jazz.
By the way, I don't use a view camera for reasons of money and weight.

I've done my share of cropping, for many reasons- unable to shoot from the position I wanted is one major one. I also have found that surprisingly, I can often get two or three or more interesting, well composed images from one negative/RAW file by cropping. For me cropping has proved productive. For others, thats their business. The results are what counts. Somehow this whole discussion makes me think of a quote from Through the Looking Glass: "The question is,' said Humpty Dumpty, 'which is to be master--that's

A related point, not really off topic I hope: I always felt that the 6x6cm negatives of the twin and single lens reflexes were square only because of the horizontal position of the screen of the viewfinder: looking downwards on the screen for oblong images, makes for a very awkward sideward viewing position when framing for upright ones (or vice versa). Entered the square screen/negative, to be cropped later into either a horizontal or vertical rectangle - or to be left uncropped in case one really wanted a square image. The lines on most of the focussing screens of those reflexes were also clearly intended to help with this post-crop framing. (It suddenly occurs to me that in this case cropping and framing are two sides of the same coin. Funny.)

Comment #1 - I would not be surprised if that Arnold Newman photo was shot with the final cropping mind. You'd not want to shoot Stravinsky at the edge of the lense like that. Distortion,, soft edges, and all that. By keeping well inside the edge, Newman could keep his subject shot technically well, but then later create the framing he intended. I could easily be wrong, but Newman's framing was alway so elegant, I want to believe he previsualised the final result, and this negative was his interim step.

Comment #2 - for tyro photographers, I'd put this in a similar category to Mike's suggestion to shoot for a year with one camera and one lens. Shooting for a long period of time with a self-imposed "no cropping" rule will teach you a lot about framing. And you learn framing differently in the field than you do in the darkroom or at the computer.

The Edge is such a critical component of an image that the artist should be taking that element very seriously at the time the image is first being created. Im assuming that you are dealing with all the components that make up what one traditionally calls art. Journalism, scientific records, and other forms of photography can approach this initial creation process with a different set of rules, but when making art (your definition is as good mine here), you should be thinking of all the elements that go into what you intend to end up with. To me that means making that frame work as you make the image. But of course I'm happy to concede that when using a viewfinder that crops such that you dont see some of what shows up in the final image, a wee bit of cropping to reconstitute what was intended is required. And I'll even agree with those that say only the final image matters - sure, if your original intention turns out to have been so so and a severe crop actually creates a good image, then go for it. But do your future pictures a favour and try to learn from that experience of initially weaker vision.

Maybe it's a quirk of my personal style but I like long and thin "oddball" ratios in a lot of what I do. So if you can explain to me how I can "frame" at an intended 2x6 or even 1x6 ratio it would save me a of wasted pixels. No offense Mike but my camera "frames" at a more or less fixed 6x4 ratio (or 5x7 or etc). That's out of my control and I don't really have a choice in the matter.

This topic is typical so may conversations that go on in may crafts now effected by high tech. I've seen friendships ended in the vintage motorcycle restoration world as a result of people using CNC reproduction parts and keeping quiet about it.

IMO we frame when shooting, and crop to reframe if need it. For me these are two different things.


To me it is simple. There are two things. It is ridiculous to think that the perfect image has to be 2:3 if you are shooting 35 mm, or 4:3/4:5/etc if you are shooting something else (or square). Some images want to be more
long, some want to be more square. So cropping along one axis is always okay, if it fits your vision.
The other thing is focal lengths. I use mainly primes. So I don't always have just the right focal length for the crop that I want. So I pre visualize and crop later. You can get an identical picture (apart from depth of field) with a 28 mm lens that is cropped as you get from 35mm, or 40mm or 42mm. I agree it is sloppy to crop too much. But a bit is okay if it fits the purpose.

I shoot on an APS-C sensor, so everything I shoot is cropped ;-)

Tell you something, I'm glad Kodachrome is gone. Cropping those transparencies was a PITA...

My personal bugbear is not cropping per se, but the heavily off-centre crop, with a correspondingly shifted centre of perspective within the new frame.

Unless expertly and appropriately done, this kind of overall lurching effect risks making the visual brain subtly queasy; like a kind of pictorial astigmatism.

I find it interesting now that I have switched to micro four thirds. With both the GH2 and the OMD you can change aspect ratios and frame using the aspect ratio of your choice. Further, in both cameras changing the aspect ratio is basically destructive, in that the GH2 is a multi aspect sensor you you lose some height and gain some width, and in the OM-D you just lose pixels when you go away from 4:3 (oddly, they also include 3:4 as a choice which I can't quite fathom).

I find that even though I'm giving up pixels and cementing my choice, the framing benefit of previewing in my aspect ratio of choice and not having to crop later is something I do in fact choose to do. But that is all about the usefulness of framing in my format of choice, and nothing to do with an unwillingness to crop after the fact. Interesting that I choose to do it in camera when I could do it after the fact via cropping.

In some cases I crop ONLY because I can't get close enough. But that comes down to not owning an expensive enough lens (or in this case there not really being an available lens in MFT yet). Your post about only needing a long telephoto a few times a year is relevant here - I use my Oly 75mm prime for kids sports and events and crop after the fact...

Right on the mark, Mark... well, almost. I shoot with a camera so everything I shoot is cropped.

@ Matt,

The actual pixel dimensions that a D800/E captures is actually closer to 4924 by 7378, not 7360x4912. While it does not at all change the issue you note for you. It's a few extra pixels. This slight size difference is the same for pretty much all DSLR's in that the manufacturer's stated resolution is actually slightly below what what they actually capture. Photo Ninja is the only RAW converter that I know of that provides a few more pixels :)


once I played the cropping discussion a bit along,....one might end up near here:

If we didn't "crop".....all there should be are round negatives, smaller for a "35MM" or a medium format or a 4x5, just circular negatives of variable sizes - as i haven't seen to many square lenses yet.
there is no better way to frame a photograph creatively then to hit it right with the "negative" or exposure,.....but that is only one fine and difficult option to achieve a great image. Still a "non-cropped" image strongly supports the moment of exposure as the creative event.

The semigod HCB used to talk about framing in camera all the time. Adn then one day you find one of his most famous pics is severely croped:
I'm personally in the do whatever you have/want to do in order to get the photo you want.

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