Do photographers on this website consider heavy cropping an image dishonest?
Do photographers on this website consider heavy cropping an image dishonest?
Last edited by Simon C; 10th July 2013 at 04:15 PM.
Cropping a photo for composition is and always has been an acceptable practice in my opinion. It is your photo and what you do to it is your privilege. Introducing extraneous elements into a photo is frowned upon however
Taken to the extreme, some can come to be known as Croppers, possibly even decended from a long line of Croppers
This iconic photo of Pablo Picasso was made by iconic portrait photographer Arnold Newman in 1954. It was cropped from an original that was tilted to the left and comprised only 20% of the image.
Last edited by Mike Buckley; 9th July 2013 at 02:16 AM.
I only voted and did not plan to comment till I saw Dan's comments that tickled me and then it struck me ... a Cropper started this thread Simon, I hope I am not diverting the attention of this thread and sorry if it has offended you.
I always shoot so that I can crop to my final output format; i.e. this means my shots are done in such a way that I leave space around the sides of the image specifically so that I can throw some material away. This is (and always has been) common practice, even in the film days.
Do I loose a few pixels; of course, but so what. Even when printing to a fairly large size, there is more than enough data to produce a fine looking print. And no, I don't specify that the image is cropped as most photographers would be pretty sure that this is what is being done.
IMHO, intent is the key ingredient. If your image purports to be a true record of the subject, then any manipulation is wrong. So for natural history, photojournalism or pure travel photography, I believe processing should be limited and that includes cropping if by doing so you end up deceiving the viewer e.g. a captive animal becomes apparently wild. If your intent is to illustrate a point or to create an image for purely aesthetic appreciation, I see no problem. The interesting area is portraiture. Should you flatter your subject or not? Hmmmm....
Cropping is simply one of many options the photographer has.
He may have the opportunity to get closer or use a longer lens and on the other hand he may not. There's nothing dishonest in it unless you use the image to deliberately portray something it is not.
If the photographer is cropping with the aim of deceiving the viewer – it is dishonest and deceptive.
Cropping is very much part of the work flow and cropping to enhance the composition is in my eyes not dishonest. Although I try to always frame my images to be as close to what I would like the end result look like, it is sometimes inevitable to do some cropping.
But, yes, heavy cropping to mislead the viewer – DISHONEST!
Since no normal lens can capture 100% of what the eye sees, whenever you take a photo be it digitally or otherwise you are cropping it as you take it.
So what's the difference between doing that, and cropping afterwards ? absolutely none.
Modifying photos to include extra items (bear cubs or whatever) is a different matter.
What is reality anyway (sorry to get philosophical) ? The BBC regularly broadcasts programs which include CGI and often don't tell you that it's not real. It won't be long before most of what we see isn't 'real' ..
I do not think cropping, adding or manipulating your image can be considered dishonest on a formal level, and it is not. Do you consider a landscape painter that does not include everything he/she sees into the painting dishonest? Photos are your creation/interpretation of the data a camera has been able to capture, and you are free of doing anything you like with them.
Dishonest can be the use you do of your images.
In my view there is a significant difference between basic cropping and image manipulation; i.e. trimming the image to either fit a format or cutting things out and displaying just part of the image, versus going in and deliberately removing or adding to the image.
In a cropped image you are effectively showing a part of what the camera captured without altering any of the pixels that are left. I find that image sharpening, tonal adjustments and other fairly standard post-processing all can fall into this catagory.
If you get into more serious image manipulation; whether that is removing some distracting blemishes on a person's face or adding an additional bear cub or pyramid. Again, there is nothing wrong with any of these techniques and I use them all the time. In fact, I'm pretty sure that there are no images in fashion oriented magazines or advertising materials that have not been heavily edited. Where things start to cross the line is where there is misrepresentation of the facts in order to influence people's behaviour; i.e. buy our product and you can look like the model in the ad.
Where that line is drawn is really what is generally up for debate. I understand that this is not new at all; in the days before cameras, portrait painters would "embellish" their subjects to look better than they did in real life.
I, once upon a time, merely took pictures...click click click...got the whole exposure, SS, f/stop things down to the comfort level.
Then I discovered Photoshop which opened a whole new world...I could now create images that existed solely in my mind.
Got a shoot with a dozen people, betcha can't get them all to smile and look at the camera at the same time.
Using Photoshop you can blast off a couple dozen images and choose the best micro expressions and combine into one.
IMHO...that SOOTC stuff is pure malarkey.
Cropping the frame is just part of photography and always has been. Some newspaper or magazine editor once thought they could elevate the status of themselves by implying the purity of their photos and that seemed to stick even to this day. (remember, these are journalists and the move was probably a reaction to some fraudulent incident) Keep in mind that was from an age when photography was not for the masses and the world was presenting people with things that were previously hard to imagine. As news-people do, some trying to outdo the competition even showed they went so far as to file down the sides of the enlarger negative carriers. This produced an outline around the photograph which for awhile was also another standard proof of realism. That process hung around for awhile but didn't really catch on because of camera and lens limitation of the day. Many times the zooming was performed in the enlarger. Another basic processes of enlarger printing is exposure so who is to say one photographic printing aspect is more pure than another. As others have pointed out, basic photographic process to produce an acceptable image was/is not the problem. The thoughtful manipulation to deceive is a problem. Today's "rules" are for the most part like the rest of the rules for photography and are more like guidelines. With the way our mass news sources conduct themselves these days I suspect their guidelines have more to do with protecting the newspaper or media outlet than protecting the photographer or purity of the shot.
I struggle to understand what people really mean when they start talking about "honesty" in pictures.
Sure, I can understand the need for accurate news images but half of the ones I see in papers are monochrome so what's "honest" about that?
We crop most of the view from our pictures just by pointing the camera this way rather than that, is that dishonest?
I usually use this picture as an example, taken in Cumbria on a blustery Winter day as the wind swept clouds flashed light all over the landscape.
To my left was a noisy rookery and the birds were larking across the sky as if for the pure fun of it.
The shot is composited from about a dozen frames taken on a tripod. All the elements of this shot were taken where they appear in the frame that you see, but not all at the same instant.
In my opinion this is a very honest portrayal of the place and the conditions but many would say it is not.
If I had taken two different exposures and blended them to capture the extreme dynamic range, many of those same people would have no problem, even though the clouds would have moved and "ghosting" artefacts would be produced.
If I had taken three frames and composited them as a panorama instead of cropping the frame as I have, most people would still have no problem, even thought the process would have captured three separate spans of time.
But because I have chosen the moments that I wished to capture and taken careful control of those moments to portray the time and place that I found myself in, just like a painter who chooses what to include and what to leave out, then does that make me dishonest?