Opinion on cropping portraits

Started Feb 18, 2013 | Discussions
arie
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Opinion on cropping portraits
Feb 18, 2013

I was shooting a friend's portrait yesterday while walking in the park and was using my new Tam 28-75mm DI SP and A77.

http://www.sharpeyestudio.com/cincinnati/2013/portrait-on-a-winters-day

When I was going through the shots, I felt like I could do some cropping to make the composition more appealing. I did so with a few of them, but could have definitely cropped more of them. I feel like I'm cheating in some way when I crop an image but I'm probably not thinking about it the right way.

Is it common to do some post-shoot cropping with portraits or any other type of shot for that matter? Also, I can assume that the crop aspect ratio needs to be the same so it matches the rest of the shots (duh).

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seilerbird666
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Re: Opinion on cropping portraits
In reply to arie, Feb 18, 2013

I have always cropped about 95% of the shots I take. I shoot in 4/3 and crop to 16/9. No need to make them all the same aspect ratio. Crop so that it is composed well. I shoot mainly birds and critters. There is no posing them. I use center point focus and put everything in the middle. Then in post I crop it the way I want. There are no rules. Do it the way you want to.

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EinsteinsGhost
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Re: Opinion on cropping portraits
In reply to arie, Feb 18, 2013

IMO, cropping is pretty much guaranteed. Even with 100% view, there are occasions when time to compose perfectly is limited, and even when there is time, we later discover something missed (something unwarranted showing up as a distraction). I do try to get it right the first time though.

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Alphabart
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Re: Opinion on cropping portraits
In reply to arie, Feb 18, 2013

If the image allows it and makes it better then the original then crop.
Cheating? Nah Watch this movie and then think if cropping is cheating. Bet you don't anymore

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FpHMuK7Htic

Cropping helps you to frame better next time

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Dutchpepper
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Re: Opinion on cropping portraits
In reply to arie, Feb 18, 2013

arie wrote:

I was shooting a friend's portrait yesterday while walking in the park and was using my new Tam 28-75mm DI SP and A77.

http://www.sharpeyestudio.com/cincinnati/2013/portrait-on-a-winters-day

When I was going through the shots, I felt like I could do some cropping to make the composition more appealing. I did so with a few of them, but could have definitely cropped more of them. I feel like I'm cheating in some way when I crop an image but I'm probably not thinking about it the right way.

Is it common to do some post-shoot cropping with portraits or any other type of shot for that matter? Also, I can assume that the crop aspect ratio needs to be the same so it matches the rest of the shots (duh).

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1500 years ago, everybody knew that the Earth was the center of the universe. 500 years ago, everybody knew that the Earth was flat. And 15 minutes ago, you knew that people were alone on this planet. Imagine what you'll know tomorrow. -MIB

Cheating, Na!  getting the right composition first up takes lots and lots of practice, cropping allows you learn and see better IMO

DP
http://www.flickr.com/photos/loubella/

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Allan Olesen
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Re: Opinion on cropping portraits
In reply to arie, Feb 18, 2013

I don't know about portraits, but I crop most of my photos. I have actually made a habit out of composing with a margin both vertically and horizontally so I can later crop special versions for 16:9 and 4:3 formats (for viewing on TV and iPad) without leaving important content out. And all three versions get cropped individually to get the best composition for that output format.

I think that cropping is one of the really enjoyable parts of PP where I can test different compositions and see what works best. And as someone said earlier in the thread: If you practise on composition in PP, you may also get more skilled at nailing the right composition when shooting.

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arie
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Re: Opinion on cropping portraits
In reply to Dutchpepper, Feb 18, 2013

Dutchpepper wrote:

Cheating, Na! getting the right composition first up takes lots and lots of practice, cropping allows you learn and see better IMO

DP
http://www.flickr.com/photos/loubella/

Hadn't really thought of it that way, but you're so right!

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arie
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Re: Opinion on cropping portraits
In reply to Allan Olesen, Feb 18, 2013

Allan Olesen wrote:

I don't know about portraits, but I crop most of my photos. I have actually made a habit out of composing with a margin both vertically and horizontally so I can later crop special versions for 16:9 and 4:3 formats (for viewing on TV and iPad) without leaving important content out. And all three versions get cropped individually to get the best composition for that output format.

Sounds like a lot of work to make 2 versions for different media! I'd hate to do that for 100s of shots. I can see how shooting full frame would really help with a technique like this because you'll have larger margins to work with, right?

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KHorn
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Re: Opinion on cropping portraits
In reply to Alphabart, Feb 18, 2013

Wow, thanks for recommending this Utube.  What a great little video.  I never realized we all seem to shoot the same when looking for that right shot.

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Kriekira
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In reply to arie, Feb 18, 2013

Your digital camera is data recorder more than a picture-maker. Use it to record data. The more the better -- but you have to decide how you want your "more": detail or context. (For a lot of money, you can get a good bit of each.)

Your digital data processor -- a computer -- is your picture maker. If you are making pictures, let the picture determine the proper framing. All pictures are different. Forcing them, a priori, into a fixed frame is perverse and unhelpful.

The reason our digital data recorders take the circle of data they gather and trim the top, bottom, and sides is because, for engineering reasons, film cameras were limited to rectangular areas of exposure, and these were most cost-efficiently produced and processed in strips. A picture-maker's camera today should record _all_ the data the lens gathers, and produce files that show this circle of data.

Use your data recorder to record the most useful datasets you can. Then use your data processor to make the pictures you want.

You either accept responsibility for making pictures -- or you accept that distant and dead engineers are making those decisions for you.  "Cheating" doesn't ever enter the equation.  Whatever you decide, the picture is yours.

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Allan Olesen
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Re: Opinion on cropping portraits
In reply to arie, Feb 18, 2013

arie wrote:

Sounds like a lot of work to make 2 versions for different media! I'd hate to do that for 100s of shots.

It is actually three versions. I also make a 3:2 for prints.

But with a good workflow it is very fast. I use Lightroom and have installed Rob Cole's XMP Crop plugin. With this plugin I can maintain crop position and crop area when I change the aspect ratio. This means that I will use some time for the 3:2 crop for each photo, export a set of photos with this crop, then change the aspect ratio for all photos to 16:9 and only have to make minor adjustments to the crop for each photo, etc..

With Lightroom without plugin, the crop got reset when I changed the aspect ratio, and that was really annoying.

I can see how shooting full frame would really help with a technique like this because you'll have larger margins to work with, right?

Well, 90% of more sensor area is better than 90% of less sensor area. So: Yes.

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arie
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In reply to Kriekira, Feb 18, 2013

I really appreciate the concepts you offer. Thanks.

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1500 years ago, everybody knew that the Earth was the center of the universe. 500 years ago, everybody knew that the Earth was flat. And 15 minutes ago, you knew that people were alone on this planet. Imagine what you'll know tomorrow. -MIB

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