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« Shooting at eye level | Main | Creating panoramic images »

Cropping to make a better photograph

I was scouting a local farm for a portrait I will be shooting this coming week, and took some quick overviews to help me formulate my approach.

When I looked at the pictures later, I realized that there I things I do intuitively when I shoot.  Something that might not be obvious to the photo enthusiast.  Something that might help in formulating how to photograph any subject.

As photographers, we are filtering our experience of the world when we click the shutter.  What we choose to include, and exclude, impacts the reaction the viewer has when they see the image.  If it is successful, it pulls them into a world we have created.  Using color, texture, form and light are key tools in that service.  And so are composition and content.

In these two pictures, look at the difference between the wide shot and the tighter in image.  In the wide shot, there is a sense of chaos, a lot of unused space.  As a viewer, you don't know where to look.  Now look at the tighter image.  Notice how by cropping in, limiting the content and tightening the composition (in this case by stepping closer and using about the same focal length), I can lead the viewer to one place to focus upon.  Sure, you still get a sense that there are a lot of chickens in the field, but by cropping in it becomes  a story about the one chicken, and you spend more time looking at the details in the head, the color of the face, and the texture of the feathers. 

Cropping, either by zooming in with the lens, or stepping closer to your subject is a great tool to add impact to your work.  It's something to consider when you are shooting any subject.  Give it a try!

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