Better, but there are still too many distracting elements. The pole and signs as you look down the wall and street on the right are distracting. The water spout in the bottom right is a distraction also. The white details from the door frame in the upper left aren’t helping anything. So, focus in further, change the angle slightly and…
Look at that fantastic bike, being used as a store display. If you can see the bike in all of the distractions, that is. Between the street signs, graffiti, store door and shaft of sunlight you might not even notice the cool bike. So I moved, I changed my angle on the scene to the other side of the street.
Better. Quite a few distracting elements were gone, but then the new element of the door in the background was added. How to use it became the issue – crop it out or keep it wholly in the frame? What about the entry on the right, and what is that yellow thing, a handle of some cart? This image is still too busy. It was time to try again, really thinking about what I wanted to focus on. It was the bike that caught my eye, and the fact that it was being used as part of the store display. So, changing angles again, and focusing in on the store display aspect, I created one of my all time favorite photos…
Isn’t that a huge difference? From random snapshot to interesting piece of art, by the process of elimination.
Let’s face it, we don’t always get the best possible framing in the camera. We may be moving too quickly to study the scene, or might not notice a distracting element. Cropping in post-processing is a fantastic tool for the process of elimination.
There are times where cropping completely saves the image. Consider this example, from Pavia, Italy. I was intrigued by this vintage Fiat on the street, but I didn’t stop to study it. One click and I moved on.
It might be interesting to show my friends the cool Fiat I saw in Italy, but it is nothing exciting. I would never show this here on the blog. I had to focus in on the interesting parts… the vintage license plate, the cobblestone street, and the cool reflection of the Italian architecture.
And there it is! An image that says “Classic Italian Transport” and not “I was wandering around in Italy and I randomly snapped this photo.” The process of elimination worked for me here.
This image from Germany is one I’ve shared before of how dramatic cropping can save a shot. I loved the architecture and the vineyard on the hill behind the building:
There was just too much building and not enough interest, however. Where are you supposed to look? Cropping to focus in on the architectural detail but keep the vineyard behind yields this image:
So much more interesting. Now you know where to look! You can see the details of the bottle-glass window, the timber framing, and the painting under the eaves along with the context of the vineyard behind. A great image to show the classic German architecture of the Rhine River Valley.
Now, cropping dramatically has its consequences. You can lose significant resolution in the image. The final cropped image will not be able to be printed as large as it could have been. You might be surprised, however, just how much cropping an image from a modern digital camera can withstand before you have problems with printing resolution. Since I’m primarily sharing online, I don’t have to worry about it too much, but it’s good to keep in mind.
It is interesting to note that both of these cropping examples are from 2009, very early during my Italian assignment. As I took more photos and improved in my photography, I’ve gotten so much better at seeing and framing my images at the time of capture. All of the examples in the framing section are from the last few months. The practice of cropping in my post-processing over the last two years has helped me learn the process of elimination at the time of framing that I use today.