Where to Crop

There’s nothing sacrosanct about the size of a captured image, It’s dictated by the size of the sensor and each of my three cameras has a different sized sensor.

We crop to remove extraneous detail, to improve composition and accentuate the properties of the image we saw with our mind’s Eye. There are some images that suit a square format, others that suit a letter-box shape.

And there are times when deciding on a Crop can be difficult and today’s image is one of those occasions. The image is of a frontage on Gray’s Inn Road in London. I was attracted by the varying reflectivity of the glass panels, and particularly by the area of glass that yielded a double reflection, one of them offset from the other.

IMG_5495_WPI was unable to shoot this frontage head-on and so the processing of correcting the vertical and horizontal lines was quite taxing, involving two or three attempts using the Transform tool.

The Image shown is the final version I have selected and the original is shown as a thumbnail below. Both will of course enlarge if you click on them.

IMG_5495_origThe question is: Is this the best crop? I was tempted to crop out the majority of the ‘frosted’ glass leaving a thin rim, but I didn’t like the balance of that, and I felt I needed enough frosted glass to provide the context. which is why in the left upper section I have included a zone of clear reflective glass above the ‘frosted’ band.

What do you think – how would you crop this image? Do you struggle to be fully objective with your own work?

It’s over to you – do make a comment.

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About LensScaper

Hi - I'm a UK-based photographer who started out 45+ years ago as a lover of landscapes, inspired by my love of outdoor pursuits: skiing, walking and climbing. Now retired, I seldom leave home without a camera and I find images in unexpected places and from different genres. I work on the premise that Photography is Art and that creativity is dependent on the cultivation of 'A Seeing Eye'. I'm not averse to manipulating images to produce derivatives that may sometimes be far removed from the original.
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34 Responses to Where to Crop

  1. ShimonZ says:

    I agree with your point of view on cropping… completely. It is a matter of taste… and to me, all the work that goes into the preparation of an image, whether in the camera or afterwards, is part of the photography. I like the large image very much; consider it a very impressive picture.

  2. My short answer is yes it is the right crop and I really like the shot! I imagine had this been my image I may have experimented with a square aspect crop. That might be considered a bit radical to some but I think it might work. So an alternative crop could have been your final image cropped down from the top and from the right so that the main panel is bounded by square grey panels along those sides and then crop the bottom so that there is no lower frame to the main panel (hopefully making the main panel square. This crop would shift the image into being something more graphic and remove some of the context. Of course it could look terrible but those are my thoughts 🙂

    • LensScaper says:

      Thanks PC. I was very tempted to trim it right down to the main panel, and indeed I may go back to this site again and see how the image looks if I can shoot it square-on.

  3. bananabatman says:

    Most of my images get a fair bit of post capture cropping, possibly because my camera skills are not up to much. Maybe I’m just undecided about the best composition. I would dearly like to think that if I had taken this shot, then I would have eventually arrived at exactly the crop that you have chosen. I might have tried a square crop first, that effectively removed the top window, but I do agree with everything that you have said. Your final crop is, I think, the best.

  4. I think you made the right decision in where to crop the image. I would have debated about the frosted glass too but it really works.

  5. seekraz says:

    First of all, I think you did a fabulous job of squaring the image. I don’t have that bit of technology with my processing program…didn’t know it existed. If it were my photograph, I would have removed the thin frame that you have on the right side (to include the accompanying strip on top), as well as the thin pane on the bottom…they seem to distract me, especially the one on the right. I like what you did with it, though…and think the frame of the house and doubled tree would make an interesting image by itself…..

    • LensScaper says:

      Thanks for the suggestions Scott. I kept those thin strips in because I liked the thin black lien demarcating the individual panes of frosted glass and felt that helped as ‘stop’ points to the edge of the image, My fear was that without that extra thin panel, the image just faded out especially on the right side. It all boils down to how much of the frosted glass you crop out – too much and your eye will wonder what the heck it is that forms the border.

  6. Chillbrook says:

    I think this is a very successful crop Andy. Well done on the transform tool. I have used that particularly useful tool many times, including the distort, perspective and skew tools to get the image I’ve wanted. Very tricky to get right when you’ve got lines like you have in your image.
    Once more, an excellent post demonstrating the power of the crop!

  7. oneowner says:

    i like the crop you made. It works well with this image. Obviously, when you know you have to straighten an image in post you need to include more surrounding area in the initial shot. Here’s where the highest resolution pays off – the crop. Sometimes as much as 50% of the image in order to get it right. I think some folks don’t appreciate how important the crop is to the final image.

    • LensScaper says:

      Thanks Ken – you raise a crucial point. It is amazing how much of an image can be lost in a radical ‘straighten’. When I see part of the image disappearing off the frame, I go back a step and enlarge the canvas in the appropriate direction so that I retain that bit that would otherwise be lost.

  8. Len says:

    I like your crop Andy. It really works well. When deciding on a crop, it all is in what I am trying to convey in the image. I have posted a number of images from the same photos with different crops giving each its own unique feel.

  9. ehpem says:

    I too like your crop. And the transform as well. I probably would have tried a crop at the top that left the same distance above the bar and thin black line as you left on the right. But that might not have worked.

    Off topic, but I would have tried it also a bit desaturated and in mono.

    • LensScaper says:

      Thanks for the suggestions, Ehpem. I am going to head back there and see if I can get a slightly more head-on view that might give me some other options. Personally I think it loses something in mono – I’ve tried it. The blue reflections in the window in the roof turn out to be actually quite important in the overall balance of the image.

  10. I agree with the crop, but would like to see a square crop, too.

    I also really like the wavy glass and how it transforms the building so dramatically, especially with the hard edges of the glass as a contrasting feature.

    • LensScaper says:

      I think you’ve hit on one of the joys of building reflections. It’s the chaos amidst the organised geometry of the bars delineating the individual panes of glass. I’ll take another look at this building next time I meet up with my son for lunch – his office is about 100yds from this site. Thanks Melinda.

  11. Very clever image, well done

  12. mark says:

    I think this image needed the frosted glass to work, so good call there. As far as my process, a large number of my images get at least small crop because I finally learned to get in the habit of capturing more of a scene than I think I need in the field, because you can need it for perspective correction or similar adjustments. And when you don’t use the extra info for that purpose you need to cut it out to get back to what you first wanted.Any time I do a more substantial crop I just play around. It’s so easy to drag the box and try different sizes and ratios that I just use trial and error. It’s usually not difficult to pick and takes a few seconds to a minute tops.

    • LensScaper says:

      Thanks for commenting Mark. I’ve wrecked a few images in my time by cropping too tightly at the capture stage, and then finding that when I use lens correction, a vital part f the image disappears off the page. So frustrating. Sometimes one learns the hard way!

  13. Phillip says:

    I agree that you cropped it well. By doing so it draws the view eye to the distorted image in the glass. Otherwise the subject is conflicting with the building.

  14. Great image and you cropped it just great ! Hard to tell sometimes. I will hold up a mirror if I am really unsure !

  15. I think you left just enough of the surrounding panels to open up the image and frame it well.

  16. Nelson says:

    I just discovered your photo blog today and your photos are beautiful.
    Although I am very new at photography, for the cropping question, my view is remove the details that does not bring something to the photo and leave whatever gives its effect. I think you removed the right amount and kept all the effect you wanted to show. I would have done the same.
    And no I am never fully objective with my photos.

  17. I think the crop is right on, Andy. All the processing is really nice, especially your mastery of the Transform tool. Congratulations!

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