Results 1 to 19 of 19

Thread: Help understanding aspect ratios

  1. #1
    flipmode's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Las Vegas, NV
    Posts
    100
    Real Name
    Chris

    Help understanding aspect ratios

    I been reading up on aspect ratios and I feel like my head is going to explode. For one, is there a difference between aspect ratios and cropping? There is right?

    I was reading a few threads, this one in particular and it threw me for a loop.

    http://www.flickr.com/groups/natural...earch=cropping

    I'm trying to follow what the gal, Laurie Sachs is explaining in reply to another member. She says:

    "If you are going to crop just crop everything to 4 x 6 which is your camera's aspect ratio. Then people can order 5 x 7 or 8 x 10 and you will only lose image off of the short sides. If your in camera crop was too close and you can't crop to 8 x 10 then you tell your customers that aesthetically this photo would be much better as an 8 x 12 and you talk them into ordering that"

    She also says:

    "When you use the crop tool you aren't changing the pixel size, just the aspect ratio. As long as you don't resize the pixels then you are good to print any size"


    My question is how do you achieve the first thing she says? Two, she says that when you use the crop tool it doesn't change the pixel size but I just cropped an image and checked the image size via image>file>size and clearly looked like it changed to me. Am I missing something here?

    Here's my motive behind all this. I'm planning to get into portrait photography so I don't want to have to crop every shot in various sizes if one crop will do the trick, as she's mentioning. So if there is one particular photo that the client potentially would like to print in different sizes because they can't decide on one, then how do I go about that?

    Thanks

  2. #2
    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Windsor, Berks, UK
    Posts
    15,983
    Real Name
    Dave Humphries :)

    Re: Help understanding aspect ratios

    Quote Originally Posted by flipmode View Post
    Two, she says that when you use the crop tool it doesn't change the pixel size but I just cropped an image and checked the image size via image>file>size and clearly looked like it changed to me. Am I missing something here?
    Yes, sort of, 'she' means when you crop, you hack off many pixels (from width and/or height of a whole image), but this is only changing the quantity of pixels in the image, not their size. i.e. You're not changing the absolute size of the individual pixel(s).

    It is badly written in my view, so I am not surprised it confuses; e.g. "When you use the crop tool you aren't changing the pixel size, just the aspect ratio." But you're not changing the aspect ratio of the pixel either.

    But you have only yourself to blame Chris, there's only one forum worth reading, and it's here! (and the tutorials of course)

    Quote Originally Posted by flipmode View Post
    Here's my motive behind all this. I'm planning to get into portrait photography so I don't want to have to crop every shot in various sizes if one crop will do the trick, as she's mentioning. So if there is one particular photo that the client potentially would like to print in different sizes because they can't decide on one, then how do I go about that?
    You're possibly confusing size and aspect ratio again; 6 x 4 is the same as 12 x 8 if the client wants it bigger. The crop, which defines the aspect ratio, is a different decision and should be based on image content, not trying to make one size fit all. e.g. just one of; 7 x 5, 8 x 10, 5 x 5, etc.

    If I find someone's writing (on a subject I don't understand) is confusing me, I stop reading them and go elsewhere - it's the only way to preserve sanity.
    Last edited by Dave Humphries; 5th August 2010 at 12:23 AM.

  3. #3
    PopsPhotos's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Washington (state) USA
    Posts
    984
    Real Name
    Pops

    Re: Help understanding aspect ratios

    Aspect ratio is merely the ratio applied to any photograph. If 2:3, then it can be printed at 2x3, 4x6, 6x9, 8x12 and so on, with other sizes at that ratio of long dimension being 1.5 times the short dimension. It is easier to think in terms of common print sizes of 4x5, 4x6, 8x10, 8x12, and so on.

    I tell my students to examine the picture in the viewfinder and decide which aspect ratio they think will look best and "crop in the camera" for that aspect ratio. If you think the picture will look best at 8x10, take that picture, leaving some room on one or two sides for the crop in the darkroom. If you think the picture will need more stretch in the long direction, or more compression in the short direction, then compose in the camera for that.

    Then, I tell them not to crowd the edges and corners.

    Still confused? Welcome to the club.

    Pops

  4. #4
    flipmode's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Las Vegas, NV
    Posts
    100
    Real Name
    Chris

    Re: Help understanding aspect ratios

    @ Pop, yes, still confused. It's like I kind of get it but not fully. I guess I don't understand how this would affect my work flow. For example, I rate my photos, do some retouching, crop, then save as keeping the original file in tact. When I crop, I crop to whatever looks pleasing to me for that particular shot. For example, if it's a really nice shot then I'll crop at 8x10, something mediocre 5x7.

    So to put things into perspective and given my work flow, how does aspect ratio come into play?

    If anyone can draw up any other scenarios that would probably help me understand this better. I agree Dave, I'm confusing myself with aspect ratio with size. Any analogies you can use to explain this?

    Also, Pop, I thought it was best not to crop in camera thus allowing you room to crop in post. Just wondering.

    @ Dave, indeed, this is the best place to learn.
    Last edited by flipmode; 5th August 2010 at 03:16 AM.

  5. #5
    PopsPhotos's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Washington (state) USA
    Posts
    984
    Real Name
    Pops

    Re: Help understanding aspect ratios

    I usually take my project picture and load them into two places. Forst I put them in a safe and then unplug that drive and hide it. then I download them again into a work space on the computer.

    When I choose a photograph to work on I bring it up in my editor of choice and immediately do a "save as" with a working name and a number. that is the one I can screw up several times before getting it right. Once I get it right, I do a save as into a "presentation" folder and erase any interem copies.

    This is pretty space intensive, but I will eventually end up with my masters hidden from the computer, my working photographs and my ready for presentation to the customer/publisher. All the trash will gradually disappear.

    The presentation folder sometimes will have the same photograph presented in more than one aspect ratio or rotation. Or the same photograph presented with different modes of post porcessing, such as high contrast, HDR, monochrome or color drop/pull.

    So, the answer to your question is "yes." The important thing to remember is to keep your crops to "standard" print aspect ratios in most cases. Once in awhile, you will have one which you will want to present as long and skinny, or square or even triangular or oval. When doing that, keep in mind that the printer will be printing to a standard ratio. If he is printing on precut paper, he will be constrained to the sizes he has in stock. If he is printing from roll paper, he might be constrained to the sizes he can get his machine to cut. If your printer is working with 28" wide paper, contained in a 44' roll, you are not going to get a 30 x 45 print from him.

    Pops

  6. #6
    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Windsor, Berks, UK
    Posts
    15,983
    Real Name
    Dave Humphries :)

    Re: Help understanding aspect ratios

    Quote Originally Posted by flipmode View Post
    @ Pop, yes, still confused. It's like I kind of get it but not fully. I guess I don't understand how this would affect my work flow. For example, I rate my photos, do some retouching, crop, then save as keeping the original file in tact. When I crop, I crop to whatever looks pleasing to me for that particular shot. For example, if it's a really nice shot then I'll crop at 8x10, something mediocre 5x7.

    So to put things into perspective and given my work flow, how does aspect ratio come into play?

    If anyone can draw up any other scenarios that would probably help me understand this better. I agree Dave, I'm confusing myself with aspect ratio with size. Any analogies you can use to explain this?

    Also, Pop, I thought it was best not to crop in camera thus allowing you room to crop in post. Just wondering.

    @ Dave, indeed, this is the best place to learn.
    Hi Chris,

    I don't think there is much wrong with your workflow, except perhaps that you are choosing 8 x 10 for "really nice" and 7 x 5 (a bit smaller) for "mediocre". This is (I think) where you are getting confused, please stop thinking of these as inches and hard sizes and one being bigger than the other and therefore more suited to higher quality images. They are (at this stage) only width:height ratios and therefore result in different shape pictures - i.e. different aspect ratios.

    I come to this from a web perspective (no pun intended), so I work in pixels, I keep the image as big as possible (as your are, although it's not so obvious), then when cropping, I still pick the ratio of 8 x 10, 7 x 5, 5 x 5, etc. purely to suit the image composition - nothing else. Sometimes it demands skinny or wide, as Pops says, so I set 'No Restriction' and make it whatever shape I like.

    If I do want to print, I view the image's pixel dimensions and check I am not going below say 150px/inch and print onto paper of the nearest size that matches the image aspect ratio, which might be 5 x 4 for an "8 x 10" ratio image. If big, I'll use A4 and waste paper - I don't do it often enough for it to be an issue.

    I hope that helps Chris.

    Cheers,
    Last edited by Dave Humphries; 5th August 2010 at 12:54 PM. Reason: clarified and extended

  7. #7
    flipmode's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Las Vegas, NV
    Posts
    100
    Real Name
    Chris

    Re: Help understanding aspect ratios

    So if I provided a client with a digital copy of a photo at 8x10 and later she goes to her nearest print vendor and tries to order prints at 5x7, obviously she would lose parts of the image, thus this would be an example of problems with aspect ratios, correct?

    Then her options would be to either determine herself what she wants to crop in/out at that 5x7 size or if the photo did not leave room for further cropping then she would have to go through me since I would have the original file at its largest size. Correct?

    On the flip side, are there different options for me so a client can avoid this? I'm thinking out loud here so bear with me...It seems like I can

    a) offer her two different pre-determined sizes, i.e. 8x10 and 5x7 or
    b) offer her the original size copies, but that presents the dilemma of sacrificing any cropping needed just for the composition purposes.

    Am I off here? Or is my understanding getting closer?

  8. #8
    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Windsor, Berks, UK
    Posts
    15,983
    Real Name
    Dave Humphries :)

    Re: Help understanding aspect ratios

    ... or just print it the widest/longest option so it fits the paper without cropping and waste a bit* - to be trimmed off with a guilotine or trimmer, which gets it back to the aspect ratio you cropped to originally.
    * as printed, either the sides, or top and bottom, will have a wider white edge (until you slice it off)

    When you print a picture at home, have you not noticed the checkbox* in the printer driver to 'fit to paper' or 'crop image', it'll be there somewhere, have a play with it in Print Preview mode and you won't even waste a sheet of paper

    * not sure where it'll be, all manufacturers do it differently

  9. #9
    PopsPhotos's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Washington (state) USA
    Posts
    984
    Real Name
    Pops

    Re: Help understanding aspect ratios

    Also, Pop, I thought it was best not to crop in camera thus allowing you room to crop in post. Just wondering.
    The phrase "crop in camera" is a hangover from film days. We didn't have a true crop function available, in camera. It means use your view finder to see the framing at the aspect ratio you think will fit this shot best. Most cameras' native aspect ratio is 2:3 (4x6, 8x12, etc.) If you are shooting a photograph which will display best at 4:5 (8x10, 16x20, etc.) then make sure you leave a bit at each end of the long dimension to be cropped off. If you are shooting for an 8x10 and you put the edges of your subject up to the frame of the camera, you will lose 1 inch at each side when you go to print.

    Pops

  10. #10

    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    East Coast of Canada
    Posts
    873
    Real Name
    Myra

    Re: Help understanding aspect ratios

    Chris, thanks for asking these questions. I'm finding the discussion very helpful.

    Correct me if I am wrong, but as I see it now, the best thing would be to actually put the different crop sizes on the disk for the customer so he or she does not "mess up" the photo with their own cropping OR allow the print company to chop away. (I have made that mistake. Sent my files to an online place before I knew about cropping and THEY cropped out some pretty important features ) I guess, you could also tell the customer that the only sizes they can print will be the ones that will "fit" (4 x 6, 8 x 12 etc).

    Dave and Pops, thanks for making me rethink my in-camera composition, too. I tend to try and get the ideal picture in the viewfinder and hadn't thought about deliberately leaving space to crop. You can't see me blushing, but I don't even know what the aspect ratio of my camera is... I'm going to go and check that out right now!

    And I'm back. OK. Google to the rescue. A Canon 40D has an aspect ratio of 3:2. That would explain why I lose so much when going for a 5x7 or 8x10. My I am glad I read this!


    Myra
    Last edited by Maritimer1; 6th August 2010 at 07:05 PM. Reason: To add information

  11. #11
    Moderator Donald's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Glenfarg, Scotland
    Posts
    19,645
    Real Name
    Just add 'MacKenzie'

    Re: Help understanding aspect ratios

    Quote Originally Posted by Maritimer1 View Post
    Correct me if I am wrong, but as I see it now, the best thing would be to actually put the different crop sizes on the disk for the customer so he or she does not "mess up" the photo with their own cropping OR allow the print company to chop away.
    I suppose the other thing to consider in this discussion is the extent to which we want to give up the 'ownership' of our image and allow others to crop it to an aspect ratio that they like/want. So, if we've decided that an image works best at, say, 7:5 and that is what we create, are we happy to see someone else decide that they want it at, say 3:2?

    My inclination is to say that this is an picture that I've made. It's aspect ratio is 7:5. If you like it buy it. If not, don't. Or is that being way too precious?

  12. #12
    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Windsor, Berks, UK
    Posts
    15,983
    Real Name
    Dave Humphries :)

    Re: Help understanding aspect ratios

    Quote Originally Posted by Donald View Post
    My inclination is to say that this is an picture that I've made. It's aspect ratio is 7:5. If you like it buy it. If not, don't. Or is that being way too precious?
    No

  13. #13

    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    Maryland, USA
    Posts
    1,015
    Real Name
    Rick

    Re: Help understanding aspect ratios

    Quote Originally Posted by Donald View Post
    I suppose the other thing to consider in this discussion is the extent to which we want to give up the 'ownership' of our image and allow others to crop it to an aspect ratio that they like/want. So, if we've decided that an image works best at, say, 7:5 and that is what we create, are we happy to see someone else decide that they want it at, say 3:2?

    My inclination is to say that this is an picture that I've made. It's aspect ratio is 7:5. If you like it buy it. If not, don't. Or is that being way too precious?
    I agree with Donald and Dave. The crop, like a lot of other aspects of the image (contrast curves, B&W versus color, etc.) is something we consider as part of creating a finished product. We may work with the consumer to find a product that's most interesting or desirable, but the idea that the image is a set of pixel values that was captured at shutter release time, to be adjusted any way the consumer wants, really ignores what photography is.

    Just because digital imaging provides a lot more flexibility doesn't change that equation: Ansel Adams could have handed over his negatives and said, "Adjust the contrast any way you like," but he didn't.

    I'll get off my soapbox now.

    Cheers,
    Rick

  14. #14
    PopsPhotos's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Washington (state) USA
    Posts
    984
    Real Name
    Pops

    Re: Help understanding aspect ratios

    The photograph is what is stored in the camera. computer, or film sheet. The picture is what the photographer makes out of that and is the product being sold.

    Anybody can lug an 8x10 view camera up to Yosemite and get the photographs that Ansel Adams took. Without his expertise and artist's eye in the darkroom, they aren't what he was able to produce. He often said he spent twice as much time in the darkroom creating a picture as he did with the camera taking the photograph.

    What you have agreed to do for the customer is to create a pictorial record of an event. If all the customer wanted was photographs, he would have asked Aunt Millie to bring her Kodak Brownie along. Your skill, artistry and knowledge builds the product for the customer. That is what you supply to the customer.

    If the customer wants more product, later, sized to fit in a particular book or frame, that is another job.

    (Hey, Rick, you left the soapbox unguarded. )

    Pops

  15. #15
    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Windsor, Berks, UK
    Posts
    15,983
    Real Name
    Dave Humphries :)

    Re: Help understanding aspect ratios

    It seems the biggest obstacle to understanding is getting past the notion that a crop of 4 x 6 is smaller than 5 x 7.

    It isn't, it is just a different shape and has nothing what-so-ever to do with what size it is printed - that comes later and any decent printer should be printing the entire image, not hacking bits off willy-nilly.

    That said of course; the average point and shooter might complain if given a print with white areas on it, so the print people are encouraged to enlarge the smallest image dimension to fit the same side and let the overflow go to heck in a handcart. All you can do is give clear instructions "DO NOT ENLARGE/CROP" when submitting for printing (or set the checkbox correctly in your printer driver if home printing).

    Anyone else for the soapbox?

    btw Chris, please don't take this personally, we're all just over-egging the issue to the point of parody almost

    Cheers,
    Last edited by Dave Humphries; 7th August 2010 at 09:51 AM.

  16. #16
    Klickit's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    In a bus somewhere in New Zealand
    Posts
    796
    Real Name
    Kit, aka Slimtla

    Re: Help understanding aspect ratios

    Quote Originally Posted by Donald View Post
    I suppose the other thing to consider in this discussion is the extent to which we want to give up the 'ownership' of our image and allow others to crop it to an aspect ratio that they like/want. So, if we've decided that an image works best at, say, 7:5 and that is what we create, are we happy to see someone else decide that they want it at, say 3:2?

    My inclination is to say that this is an picture that I've made. It's aspect ratio is 7:5. If you like it buy it. If not, don't. Or is that being way too precious?
    Let's look at this again. If I design and build a house, I build it to suit my purposes, to have it the way I want it. In later years, I sell the house to some-one. Can I reasonably say that they can't change the house to suit themselves by adding a room, or turning two rooms into one?

  17. #17

    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    New Zealand
    Posts
    17,662
    Real Name
    Have a guess :)

    Re: Help understanding aspect ratios

    Quote Originally Posted by Klickit View Post
    Let's look at this again. If I design and build a house, I build it to suit my purposes, to have it the way I want it. In later years, I sell the house to some-one. Can I reasonably say that they can't change the house to suit themselves by adding a room, or turning two rooms into one?
    The difference is though that one doesn't purchase rights to do what they like with a photo when they purchase a license to display a copy.

  18. #18

    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    East Coast of Canada
    Posts
    873
    Real Name
    Myra

    Re: Help understanding aspect ratios

    Yes, after I had suggested the customer could choose their size to print based on the aspect ratio, I started thinking... If the customer has the disk, he or she can then do what they want with the photo with regards to more post processing which would pretty much nullify any work the original photographer had done. What a disaster that could be if the customer then printed off some of the modified work and still gave credit to the photographer.

    Chris, I have been asked to do a horse show in September and had thought of just going the "Here is the disk" route, thinking that would be easier as I don't have a printer/laptop combo that could be used on site. Now, I think I will host the photos with a big watermark and let whoever wants a print tell me what they want and I'll get it printed and mailed to them. The horse show organizer and I can work out the logistics for payment.

    Dave, Colin, Pops et al... it's wonderful to know you guys are out there with the net to catch the rest of us

    Myra

  19. #19
    PopsPhotos's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Washington (state) USA
    Posts
    984
    Real Name
    Pops

    Re: Help understanding aspect ratios

    Hmmmmm, the last person that talked about nets and me in the same sentence was chasing me with one.

    Thank you, Myra. To tell the truth, I'm learning about this photography stuff all over again. I closed my studio in 1958 and have done nothing but a little wildlife and photojournalism in the 50 years since. Things have changed just a bit in the interem.

    Pops

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •