Better Photography Via Cropping

This scene is a little too busy (and crooked) for my #2 son to stand out.

It’s not always easy to get up close and personal with your kid when s/he’s playing sports. Even when you have a long telephoto lens or are able to zoom with your feet, there still are times when your digital SLR can’t just isolate on your favorite subject. And even those who believe that the security guards’ rules don’t—ahem!—apply to them sometimes have to use another means to bring the action front and center: Cropping in photo-editing software.

A friend of mine once asked if I thought cropping was cheating. No way! Rarely do I not adjust a pic in Photoshop. Cropping can make a good photo even better.

Look at the above photo of my #2 son competing in the 800 meters at last week’s track meet. There are so many distractions; it’s hard to concentrate on the true focal point.

Much better!

Here’s how it looks after I’ve cropped it into a vertical (after straightening it) and taken away all the meaningless clutter. You can better see the strain on his face and how he has both feet in the air. It hardly looks like the same photo!

Clicking on the crop tool brings up the preset-sizes box in Photoshop.

I usually set my crop aspect in Photoshop for 4 x 6 (or 6 x 4), which is the size that most parents want. It’s an easy-peasy change.

Too much space surrounds my subjects, Michael and Owen.

Here’s another example from the same track meet. Michael was practicing grabbing the baton from Owen before a relay. Which do you prefer . . . the straight out of camera shot above?

That’s the ticket!

Or this one where there’s absolutely no question who and what this photo is about? Cropping definitely saves the day.

The focus of MY attention?

Need to get rid of people surrounding your favorite athlete?

My younger son!

Crop ’em out of there!

If you don’t own a version of Photoshop (I highly recommend Photoshop Elements), iPhoto works great for Mac users. Or try Picasa, which is free photo-editing software that works for PCs and Macs.

So remember, you can add to your photo’s interest by subtracting what isn’t needed (usually a lot of excess space and people). Become a better photographer by cropping!

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