Photo Tips by Mike Rosen
IN THIS ISSUE: CROPPING PROPERLY CAN MAKE ANY PHOTO BETTER
Hi <<First Name>>,
I'm sure you know that cropping a photo means cutting off the edges to get rid of stuff you don't want in it. You can do that both before and after you've taken your picture--but it's much better to do most of it before.
A good principle to remember is that you are responsible for the entire frame. That means you have to look carefully at the entire frame before you shoot, including around the edges. If you've clearly defined your primary subject, then put that subject where you want it in the frame (using rule of thirds and other composition techniques) and ask yourself whether everything else adds to your vision for the final image. If not, get rid of it.
How? Get closer to your subject so it fills more of the frame. If you can't do that, zoom in on your subject using your telephoto lens to crop out the unwanted sky or bushes or other extraneous stuff that would clutter up the picture and divert the viewer's eye from the subject.
Often, in spite of my efforts to fill the frame with what I want and nothing else, I discover later on my computer monitor that there are still unnecessary and disconcerting pieces around the sides of my image that add nothing to my vision for it.
That's when I open my editing software and click on the crop tool. Even the most basic software packages have a crop tool, which is pretty simple to master.
However, keep in mind that the more of the image you crop out, the lower the resolution on the remaining portion, especially if you're taking your pictures in the JPEG format. That means if you want to print your photo, anything much larger than 4 x 6 inches might look noisy and dull. (This is less problematic if you're shooting in raw format with a high megapixel camera.) This is the main reason that you should carefully crop your image in the frame before you've pushed the shutter button rather than rely on the computer to make everything well afterward.
Here are three examples of cropping at work (or not).
Flower images are very tricky, but I keep trying! This one had some irrelevant items in the lower corners that I felt distracted from the primary subject.
Here is the cropped version. I urge you to experiment with the crop tool. You can always change your mind and get back to the original. Of course it would have been better had I moved my camera closer in and finished my cropping before shooting.
I liked this Santa Fe candid, but it was obviously crooked and had some problems on the top and bottom. Compare this to the cropped image below. TIP: In addition to standard cropping, the crop tool can be used for straightening crooked images. Horizon lines are often crooked and using this tool is a convenient way to fix the problem.
With the crop tool, I removed the offending parts at the top and bottom, reduced the "negative space" above the windows and straightened the photo. I also brightened it up and added some contrast. I like the symmetry of the image and the placement of the woman slightly off center.
Finally, below is an un-cropped photo of Gold Medal Park in downtown Minneapolis. I took the time to include only what I wanted, making sure there were no irrelevant items along the edges and that the primary subject (the tree) filled the frame top to bottom. I also positioned myself so the tree branches did not impair the visibility of the building in the background. Most of my images require a little cropping during the editing process, but this one didn't because I was more vigilant about framing before I hit the shutter button.
So try to focus your mind on cropping, first with your camera when you're making the picture, then with your computer when you're editing it. Your work will improve dramatically.
All the best,
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FALL PHOTO TIPS COURSE
I'll be teaching my photo tips course again this fall. It will cover subjects like composition, exposure, light, photo editing and more. Included is a field trip and critiquing of your work. The course is part of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) program at the University of Minnesota. Dates are Sept. 19 through October 31 on Wednesday mornings from 10 - 11:30. Venue to be announced. I'll have more details in the July newsletter.
I'm certainly not an expert on all the photo editing products out there, but here is a suggestion.
Photoshop Elements (version 10) is selling on-line for under $70 in both Windows and Mac editions. It's an amazingly powerful editing tool that includes many of the same functions found in the $700 Photoshop program. To me, this is a great bargain for those photographers who want to edit their work on a far more sophisticated level than possible with lower cost (or free) editing software, such as Google's Picasa. This $70 investment will pay off many fold as the quality of your photos rises. It's also really fun to learn and use.
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