Avoiding the Cut

_ds86253_wpWP is cropping your images to fit a Refreshed Reader as many of you know, and annoying a lot of photographers in the process. Can you minimize the damage done to your compositions? Yes, you can. Read on…

I’ve spent a bit of time working out exactly what WordPress is up to, and how it is cropping images, and these are my findings:

Firstly, and particularly relevant to those of you who post images with little or no text. If the character count of your text (presumably including spaces) is 100 or less, or zero, then your image will appear as a thin letterbox shaped (banner) image across the Reader window. This crop will be through the centre of your image.

For all those who write more than 100 characters the following points are relevant.

Portrait mode images (taller than wider) will be cropped through the middle of the image to result in a 2:1 ratio landscape-shaped image. In the process people may lose their heads and flowers will be cut off mid-bloom etc etc.

If your images are in landscape mode then the news is better. If your images are twice as wide as they are tall (eg 3000 pixels wide  by 1500 pixels high) then it seems that they will be fully displayed. If your landscape images are slightly squarer (images from my Nikon are in the ration 3:2 (eg 3000 pixels wide by 2000 pixels high) then your image will be trimmed top and bottom to a 2:1 ratio. Letter box images may be truncated but I have yet to confirm that.

Three lines of text are printed to the right of the image shown in Reader (assuming the character count is greater than 100). The third line of text starts to grey-out towards the end of the line, but the readable number of characters in those three lines is approx 200 (including spaces), Therefore it makes sense to maximise the use of this space. Avoid starting a new paragraph within those first 200 characters and choose your wording carefully to get readers wanting to read more. But, you should be aiming to do that anyway.

It’s worth taking a look at the Reader window to assess what is happening. I now ‘follow’ myself which means I can see exactly how my Posts are displaying.

So the message at the moment is: Post images in landscape mode, preferably  in a 2:1 ratio.

Meanwhile, there is a growing list of comments from photographers in response to the WP News item, complaining about the changes. Make your voice heard and let’s hope that we will be listened to, and  that common sense will prevail.

_ds86250Nearly forgot – two images today in 3:2 ratio, so I’m expecting them to be cropped a bit top and bottom. These are from my recent visit to London, both taken on Victoria Street.


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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23 Responses to Avoiding the Cut

  1. First, accept my compliments on these two photographs. I can’t figure them out, but I don’t mind. The lines carry the day. Second, thank you for doing the research on WP’s reader cropping and sharing your findings with the rest of us.

    • LensScaper says:

      Thanks Linda – they are both ‘straight’ unadulterated images of frontages. One shows a bizarre kinked frontage, the other is of two buildings at right angles to each other and their confusing inter-relationships. Glad you found the info helpful on how to avoid the worst of what WP is inflicting on us.

  2. Poppy says:

    Only just now thoroughly reading about this new WP Cropping situation Andy . Thank you for clarifying what is going on re sizing /editing / 100 characters . More change and not for the better it seems . I imagine as you took those photographs you were very thankful to be on the outside of the hundreds of windows there doing just that rather than staring at an office screen ! I’ve walked along Victoria Street many times but usually for a peep in Westminster Cathedral just set back from the high street . These are fascinating , the longer I looked at your first image the more I began to see some sort of *squashed double helix ….

    • LensScaper says:

      These frontages are rather bizarre – I think I see what you mean. Double Helix takes me back 50 years to University and Biochemistry lectures. Ugh! Glad you found the advice helpful – maybe eventually we will be listened to by WP, but I’m not holding my breath.

  3. paula graham says:

    Two interesting shots..the cropping WP, in its wisdom seem to find necessary, does not matter if you click on visit and then see the intended image. …does not bother me a lot…but why tinker when things were ok?

    • LensScaper says:

      As the saying goes: ‘if it aint broke, don’t fix it’. The problem is that the ‘slice’ of the image determined by the WP computer may leave you cold. Are you going to check it out by clicking ‘Visit’ or just move onto something that looks more attractive in the Reader. First impressions count for a lot.

  4. Thanks for the heads up Andy. I’ve been a bit lax in posting to the blog so wasn’t aware WordPress was doing this.

    • LensScaper says:

      I suspect a lot of photographers are not aware of what WP is doing to their images – if they glance at Reader they will not be happy – especially if they publish Portrait mode images on a regular basis.

  5. shoreacres says:

    I really do like that lightpole curved across the angular lines of the building exteriors. Let’s hope that WP bends a little, too. 🙂

  6. Sue says:

    Thanks for the heads up, Andy – I clearly need to get a bit more wordy!!

  7. Good for you for figuring all this out and for promoting a campaign against the cropping of people’s photographs.

    I like your two abstract geometrical photographs in this post.

    • LensScaper says:

      Thanks Steve. Working out what the WP computer is likely to do to my images, means that I can avoid its most destructive tendencies. I won’t be posting any portrait mode images at the top of my Posts for a start.

  8. Dina says:

    Very interesting images, Andy. I followed your advice and commented on the post about the new reader, recommending a thumbnail of the image instead. Many photographers like this idea. 🙂

    A very Happy Christmas to you and your loved ones
    and may you have the best of New Years!

    • LensScaper says:

      I see your comment, Dina. But mine sat in moderation for days and was never published. Still, there are a lot of comments that are very similar from fellow photographers. There is a large body of opinion – let’s hope WP changes its new Reader.

  9. Chillbrook says:

    This is a great bit of research Andy. I will certainly be taking this into account. Thank you!

    • LensScaper says:

      The new Reader is an affront to photography. A lot of photographers are unhappy with the changes but whether we will be listened to and whether something will change is questionable.

  10. ehpem says:

    Thanks for this Andy, I haven’t looked at reader for a while on the desktop so had not seen this going on. On my Android phone and iPad in the WP app the amount of text doesn’t seem to influence the image proportions, which are much skinnier than on the desktop – a thin slice from the middle of the image ruining most shots unless they are centered. Another difference is that on the desktop it will display the first 4 images from a gallery or a series of more than one image (actually it looks like a series of 4 or more images is necessary for it to display this way) while on the mobile platforms there is only one image displayed as a thin slice. Since there are 4 images in that thin slice on desktops, they have a different and more acceptable aspect ratio.

    I refuse to crop my images to suit the reader though. In fact, I have pretty much given up on the reader and just deal with emails from sites that I follow. It bothers me a lot that the reader gives no indications to the writer that their blog is being looked at unless someone “visits” the blog. There is no way now of tracking what is a successful post, other than with “likes” and “comments”. I think the utility of likes will be further diminished if the essential part of a photograph is not displayed.

    In the past I have noticed that the reader gives priority to embedded video, even if a featured image has been chosen. I am not sure if it still does this, but if so it is another example of removing control from the authors.

    My other gripe is that in the past 6 months or so, WP seems to have changed their compression formula for images and I find that a lot of subtle detail is being lost on upload, perhaps especially from black and white.

    WP is becoming the wrong place for photography blogging.

    • LensScaper says:

      Thanks Ehpem. A lot of people are upset by these changes. I use the reader to view posts from those I follow on a daily basis.I find it quicker than opening a batch of emails and waiting for images to load and then having to go to WP to comment or like if I wish to. But increasingly now, the reader misrepresents images and this annoys me intensely. It is tantamount to WP saying ‘we do not respect the integrity of your images’. I have decided that for the time being I will only post images in landscape mode and with proportions that WP will do the least damage to when they ‘crop’ them down.
      As for compression, I have not heard much grumbling about this, but I have suspected that my images are now darker on WP than they used to be. As to your last comment ‘WP is becoming the wrong place for photography blogging?’ – where would we all go to instead? I have no intention of going on Facebook, and I value the people I have got to know on WP and I would miss that connectivity greatly.

      • ehpem says:

        That is exactly the problem, and losing the community would be very tough.
        There is no ImagePress, though Instagram is an OK place posting has to be from a mobile device, and it is designed for small viewing and it has fewer words about the photographs, usually.
        I don’t post to Facebook, but I know quite a few people use WP as a direct feed to FB. There are some complicated rules around minimum image dimensions and so on if feeding FB from WP, but I do see that some people who used to have a lot of WP comments, now have a lot of FB comments on the same post, and many fewer on WP. FB has some horrid copyright and image ownership rules though, which is what keeps me from posting much there at all.

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