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28 May 2024


Term: Cropping
Description: Cropping is the act of excluding elements from an image frame. It can either be done in camera or in post production.In-camera cropping involves the decision to omit distracting aspects of a scene. Not everything will be able to be dealt with in-camera however, and when, for instance, the photographer didn't have a long enough lens to be as selective as they'd have liked with their in-camera cropping, pixels can easily be cropped away.The downside to this is that you are actually losing resolution when you crop pixels in post, and if you crop heavily into an image you can severely limit print size at an acceptable quality level. In addition to removing distractions, cropping in post can be done to change an image's aspect ratio. One reason to do this would be to change the aspect ration in order to print in a specific size.

Using Cropping for Interest

Although cropping is often used to correct for compositional errors like tilted horizon line or to crop out distracting objects along the edge of the photo, it can also be used to add a creative compositional look to your image. Let’s take a look at how cropping, framing, and using a custom aspect ratio such as a 2:1 aspect ratio can make a stronger impact to an image that is compositionally uninteresting.





The composition in the original image is an example of what many beginners tend to do, which is to place the subject right in the center of the image. Although this “bull-eye” composition may work with images that have strong symmetry, it does not work with this particular image.

Placing the subject off-center using the Rule of Thirds helps to add interest by emphasizing the balance with the negative space of the foreground element. The 2:1 aspect ratio also creates a better panoramic look that will make a great print for our client.

The out-of-focus foreground bushes also create interest to the image by framing the couple and guiding the viewer’s eyes to the couple. By using Post-Crop Vignetting, we can further direct the eye towards the brightest part of the image, which is the subject.

Using Cropping to Tell A Story

Cropping helps us to decide what story to tell in the image by dictating what is included and what is excluded. The difference between composition and cropping, however, is that cropping is more focused on the overall story and theme and allows us to focus in on more specific details of the story.


For example, we created a cute picnic scene with a couple shown in the image above. However, if I had just taken wide shots, capturing only the wider context of the scene, then you lose focus on the overall details of the story.



I love the strawberries in the picnic scene, and I think that their feet dangling off the wall looks cute. The power of cropping lies in capturing the details of an overall scene which contribute to the over-arching theme of the shoot. So I focus in on some detailed shots of the overarching scene and utilize the power of cropping to tell a great story.


In the end, what we produce is a collection of pictures that highlights different components of an entire story, resulting in a stronger and more elegant product.

Related Articles to Cropping Definition


The Lightroom Cropping Tool: A Simple but Powerful Tool

In this video from our Lightroom 4 A to Z Workshop on DVD, we are going to go over the various tools available in the Adjustments Tools that can help us crop our images. The Cropping Tool is a very simple yet powerful tool in Lightroom 4. The Cropping Tool is helpful because we can use it to easily straighten strong lines in our images. We can also crop out unwanted areas of the image as well as crop an image to turn it into a panorama. This article will hopefully give you a better understanding of how to use the cropping tool in Lightroom 4.