Improve Photos By Cropping :: Digital Photo Secrets
Tips and Tutorials

Improve Photos By Cropping

by David Peterson 40 comments

In my very first tip, I recommend moving closer to your subject. Almost any shot will look better if you take two or three steps closer.

It works especially well on faces because when you fill the frame with your subject's face, there is less clutter to draw the viewer's eye away from the pleasing face.


Cropping does almost the same thing. It allows you to improve your photos by eliminating the distractions or clutter.

Eliminate Clutter and Emphasize Subjects

Sometimes your photos have extra elements that don't add much to the photo and can distract from your main subject. Cropping is a fantastic way to eliminate these extras.

As an example, the foreground bushes in the windmill photo distract your eye from the main subject and remove some of the impact from the image. By cropping the photo to just the windmill, there is less clutter in the image and my intended subject (the windmill) stands out more.

Crop To Improve Composition

Notice I cropped the windmill image with the Rule of Thirds in mind.

I have spoken about the Rule of Thirds previously. Try to crop an image so that the main subject (our windmill) sites on a third line. This technique can also liven a dull photo by moving a subject that may be in the middle of the frame to be slightly out of frame; or onto one of the rule of third lines.

Changing the composition has other benefits. If you zoom in on certain parts of an image, you also change the emphasis on the photo. In the below crop, I have changed the emphasis of the image completely by cropping the mother and concentrating on the child.


Cropping Wide or High

Don't get stuck with the standard dimensions of a 'normal' photo when cropping. Feel free to construct an image that looks more panoramic than the original by making the image a lot wider than it is high. Or choose a crop that is a lot higher than it is wide. You can even make a vertical image from a horizontal image.

This technique works very well when you have a lot of sky or water in your image. Crop the sky out leaving just the interesting parts.

Crop the image
two different ways.
Taller or Wider.

Beware of cropping too much

Be careful how much you crop. Whenever you remove parts of an image, you are eliminating pixels resulting in less pixels than the original. If you chop too much off, and then try to print the smaller photo back at the original size, you can notice some degradation of quality or lack of crispness. It does depend on the number of mega pixels in your original photo and how large you wish to print the cropped photo so if unsure, test it first.

Finally, make a copy of your image before cropping it. You always want to keep a copy of the original just in case you need it again… or you aren't happy with your crop!

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Comments

  1. Umberto Santos says:

    Hey David, you are really one of a kind. Thank you for helping millions of us. 50 years ago I would've saved a lot of money on film if I had help from someone like yourself. I'm not totally RAW but I enjoy reading even the basics. I'm portuguese and the way you explain, easy to understand. Thanks.

  2. craigsymab says:

    I wanna thank u for all the tips,they come in very handy whenever.very much precise to the point and easy to relate to.

  3. BILL BIDDLE says:

    David: Great articles love your tips. Has made my Photos a step above the average and you are to thank for that.

  4. Rog Patterson says:

    Can't recall the last photo I've taken that wasn't improved by cropping, David. Thanks for the extra tips.

    Rog

  5. Colleen says:

    Hi David,
    I just want to thank you so very much your tutorials have helped me so much you dont even know.. I appreciate them very much and would like for them to continue coming. Thanks again..
    Colleen
    Canada Nova Scotia.

  6. Anthony Dmello says:

    David ,Your tutorials are not only fabulous,but are easy to understand by even the lay-man.Keep up Your good work,Buddy.God Bless.

    Anthony
    (Mumbai-india)

  7. Syed Touhid Hassan says:

    Dear David,

    Thank you very much for your excellent tips !
    They helped me a lot !

  8. Helen says:

    Being a novice photographer your tips are most gratefully accepted . Please keep us informed with your easy and rewarding ideas .....thanks heaps !!

  9. Naimat Ullah Khan says:

    Dear David,

    I have been recieving your email tips & I must say, I would be no where in photography if I was not recieving your tips.

    I must hate off to my Virtual Teacher :)

  10. Mikel says:

    David,

    Very useful tips here...but would like to find out between avoiding clutter (from the foreground), and having a balance (or should I say combination) of foreground/background interest, which would be better from a photographic point of view. Seem to read a lot of people advocating the foreground/background combination.

    Appreciate your comments and thoughts, thanks.

    Rgds,
    Mikel

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