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Thread: Do you always keep aspect ratio when cropping?

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    thatguyfromvienna's Avatar
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    Do you always keep aspect ratio when cropping?

    What's your take on this? In my totally humble opinion, a photo is 3:2 or 2:3 and I try very hard to keep it that way. Actually, as an important step to becoming a better photographer, I actually try to frame things the way I want them from the beginning so I won't have to crop. My viewfinder displays 100% which is a great help. Sometimes though, it just doesn't work out and I crop. I click that cute lock in LR, crop a little here, crop a little there, curse a bit, move the frame around, curse some more, extend the crop back a bit, wish I had some vodka close, curse some more and finally give up, click the lock again and kind of cheat, in my opinion. I am aware that some pictures work way better in other formats, such as landscapes. But mostly, I try to obey to the 3:2. How strict are you?
    Last edited by Donald; 19th April 2012 at 05:00 PM. Reason: Typo in title

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    Re: Do you always keep aspect ration when cropping?

    At the moment I am shooting specifically for 1:1. I frame the shot for this. I shoot in portrait format;i.e. the camera on its side. I use the bottom and sides of the frame (viewfinder or Liveview screen) as three sides of the finished image and know where the top crop is going to be. I know that the edges are softer and I should centre it and crop top and bottom. But, living in the real world as I do, I'll take a chance.

    My other preferred ratios are 7:5 and 16:9 for landscape and 4:5 for portrait format shots. I do think it is helpful to frame up the shot knowing at what ratio the finished image will be made

    I use cardboard cutouts of these ratios to frame the shot prior to loading the camera onto the tripod.
    Last edited by Donald; 19th April 2012 at 04:33 PM.

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    Re: Do you always keep aspect ration when cropping?

    Generally, I stick to the crop ratios, but every now and then, the standard ratios simply do not make sense. If you consider images from a photographer in the same way as paintings from an artist, any size or shape can be used to express, or deliver the artwork. Just as in art, the appealing nature of a photographic image lies in the eye of the beholder, no matter in what aspect ratio it is finally delivered.

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    Administrator Manfred M's Avatar
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    Re: Do you always keep aspect ratio when cropping?

    Quote Originally Posted by thatguyfromvienna View Post
    What's your take on this? In my totally humble opinion, a photo is 3:2 or 2:3 and I try very hard to keep it that way. Actually, as an important step to becoming a better photographer, I actually try to frame things the way I want them from the beginning so I won't have to crop. My viewfinder displays 100% which is a great help. Sometimes though, it just doesn't work out and I crop. I click that cute lock in LR, crop a little here, crop a little there, curse a bit, move the frame around, curse some more, extend the crop back a bit, wish I had some vodka close, curse some more and finally give up, click the lock again and kind of cheat, in my opinion. I am aware that some pictures work way better in other formats, such as landscapes. But mostly, I try to obey to the 3:2. How strict are you?
    It depends on what I am shooting for. If I expect to print it, I will leave a bit more space on the sides so I have space to crop to paper size (especially if I am looking to put it into a standard frame). If I am looking at displaying it on a computer screen I will probably crop to 16:9 for a better fit. Frankly, there is nothing sacred about output size, and even if I am printing, I will not hesitate to trim the print to size. My philosophy has always been "whatever works"...
    Last edited by Donald; 19th April 2012 at 05:01 PM. Reason: Correct typo in thread title in original post

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    Re: Do you always keep aspect ratio when cropping?

    I have been working on a portfolio, so I'm shooting either 4:5 ratio, or 1:1, just to go for a 'look'. Easier to frame for print too.
    Last edited by Andrew76; 19th April 2012 at 06:17 PM.

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    Re: Do you always keep aspect ratio when cropping?

    If I think I am going print for a standard frame then it is 3 x 2 or 5 x 4 ratio. But I sometimes use odd size frames which work out around 4 x 3.2 ratio (20 x 16 ins). A4 is another 'odd size'.

    But leaving a bit of space around the main subject allows for a little bit of size tweaking at printing time. Providing I can work out the exact crop ratios and printer size settings. Trying to print A3 on A4 paper is one of my common failures; it doesn't work out 'on paper'.

    I recently found a source which supplies Super A3 (19 x 13 ins) and believe it or not, it was actually cheaper than standard A3. And works out fine for those larger frames plus an edge mat.

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    Re: Do you always keep aspect ratio when cropping?

    If the shot is to be printed on canvas then that's what typically govens the aspect ratio (I try to avoid making custom frame sizes). For online display it really doesn't make any difference.

    First and foremost the image has to look right; sometimes I can achieve that using a common aspect ratio (1:1, 2:3, 1:3, 1:4, 8:10), but other times it's just "whatever it needs to be". If it's part of a series then sometimes compromises need to be made, but apart from that, I don't get too emotional about it.

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    Re: Do you always keep aspect ratio when cropping?

    I usually don't crop until I need to, Most of the things that I print are 4X6 so 2X3 is nice. I also usually center the picture with wiggle room around the edges.
    Tim

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    Re: Do you always keep aspect ratio when cropping?

    I pay no attention to any ratio, I am just cropping it as I need (I do try to maintain the same approximative ratio when suitable).

    Shooting for myself without any commercial purpose in mind should have some perks, right?
    I don't see myself showing my photos to anyone else but my family and my friends and they won't mind if a photo is a couple centimeters wider than a 3:2 ratio.
    Well, I do show some of my pics here but that is for learning purpose, just like doing a homework.

    For other more serious photographers, I can see the aspect ratios being much more important.

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    Re: Do you always keep aspect ratio when cropping?

    Shooting wildlife mainly, like Eugen, it is what it is and I usually crop freehand adjusting all four sides/corners to fit the subject with the right amounts of space around it.

    Occasionally I'll try for square,

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    Re: Do you always keep aspect ratio when cropping?

    I agree with Eugen. Why limit yourself? I'd suggest: crop the image however you like it. The only reason I have constrained crop ratios is when I don't want to fuss with custom mats. (I buy inexpensive but nice Nielson frames that come with very nice 8-ply pre-cut mats.) If the pre-cut mat is close enough to the aspect ratio I would want, sometimes I leave it constrained to that. There is nothing magical about the aspect ratio of your particular camera. It's not as though that aspect ratio was created with your specific image in mind. If you are constrained to that one aspect ratio, you can end up ruining an otherwise nice composition.

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    Re: Do you always keep aspect ratio when cropping?

    I pay some attention to the crop but it's a minor consideration. One thing I do pay a mind is a bit of extra space around the subject. If I like my photos I print them. All of them. The extra space is in case they go into a frame. I'm not much on PP other than straightening horizons so need to make the room in advance. I do have some 1:1 but most are 5x7 and 8x10. I don't know what the final size is until I see how it appeals to me.

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    Re: Do you always keep aspect ratio when cropping?

    Thanks so much for sharing your views on this issue.
    I guess I'll loosen the cropping restraints on myself a bit then.

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    Re: Do you always keep aspect ratio when cropping?

    What I learned, and have practised, is to crop for composition. Whatever crop makes the image work best is the crop to make.

    That said, I cut my own mats and mounts and can make 'em whatever shape and size I want.

    for all that I often try an initial crop at that will mat at the 'golden ratio'. No reason other than a gut feel that, as long as the image placement can be got right, the outcome is going to be pleasant.

    Just my 2

    Tim

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    Re: Do you always keep aspect ratio when cropping?

    Quote Originally Posted by Macmahon View Post
    That said, I cut my own mats and mounts and can make 'em whatever shape and size I want.
    I might add that a mat can be also do wonders for adjusting the aspect ratio of the photo so that better fits a particular frame.

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    Re: Do you always keep aspect ratio when cropping?

    For online display, I completely disregard the aspect ration when cropping.

    My usual print size is 11" x 14", and this doesn't fit any standard aspect ratio either.

    So I guess the answer is no.

    When looking at an online ad for graphic artwork recently, I was taken by how many artists used the 4/3 or 3/4 ratio. I wonder if they know something?

    Glenn

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    thatguyfromvienna's Avatar
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    Re: Do you always keep aspect ratio when cropping?

    I just measured 5.5 x 7 to get a feeling for 11 x 14 - quite interesting, I have to admit.

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    Re: Do you always keep aspect ratio when cropping?

    Quote Originally Posted by thatguyfromvienna View Post
    I just measured 5.5 x 7 to get a feeling for 11 x 14 - quite interesting, I have to admit.
    Yes, isn't it- they both have the ratio: 1.27272727 etc.

    In North America, the 11 inch by 14 inch format (279 mm x 356 mm) is a very common one in a pre-built frame so it saves the hassle of matting to fit. And it's also a nice size hanging on the wall for a flower closeup (for example quite a few of the ones at my link below were printed at this size).

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    Re: Do you always keep aspect ratio when cropping?

    3:2 (or 1.5:1) is the "golden mean" or the "golden ratio." My mother was an artist, and she always tried to compose in that ratio. I remember her saying that you can fit any composition into this ratio and it will be pleasing. According to her it also worked for room sizes. It is easier to arrange a room that is 1.5:1. I tend to agree with that rationale and usually crop at 8 x 12 (which is what I like to print at). But I also like the 1:2 ratio. Gives kind of a cinemascope look to some pictures.
    Last edited by johnbharle; 21st April 2012 at 07:25 PM.

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    Re: Do you always keep aspect ratio when cropping?

    John
    Theoretically the golden ratio is actually nearer to 1.6:1 ((sqrt(5)+1)/2). So is a little wider than 1.5:1. How much difference that makes in practice is a matter of taste, I guess (although the Greeks thought it important!)

    Whatever, one thing that is important for printing images, is that either way the ratio is not the same as the length:height ratios of common paper sizes (nor, in my experience here, of commonly mass-produced frames)

    Tim

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