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Thread: Why Crop?

  1. #31
    Pieter's Avatar
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    Re: Why Crop?

    Quote Originally Posted by Doremus Scudder View Post
    From another thread, but relevant here:

    I try to determine my compositions precisely before I even set up the camera. I work with the elements, shapes, lines, spaces (negative and positive), tones and perspective in the scene to build an image I think will be expressive. The camera position, print borders, and whether movements will be needed or desired have all been decided when I start to unpack. Often, I'll meter a scene before setting up as well. Call it planning, pre-composition (or previsualization if you prefer) or whatever you like; the ground glass for me is just for checking borders and focusing, the construction of the image is separate. My compositions arise organically from the subject being photographed. This determines the placement of the borders and the aspect ratio as well. If the aspect ratio doesn't match that of the film I'm carrying, I plan to crop.

    Also, there are sometimes situations that force me to crop: bad weather, changing light or whatever that spur me to set up quickly, grab a lens that I know will cover the scene I want and shoot quickly. Many of these shots fail, but the ones that don't usually require cropping to get the image that inspired me to try in the first place. So, I crop.

    If I have time, however, I work with the technical aspects of the photograph: setting up the tripod in exactly the right spot at exactly the right height (chin on camera plate, one eye closed, then checking later), mounting the camera and choosing the lens, applying movements, filtration, focusing, etc. If the exact image I want doesn't match exactly the angle of view of one of the lenses I have, I'm forced to use the next widest one I have, and I plan to crop.

    At this point I make the negative, process and examine it. Often (most often) my diligence in planning the image is adequate and I don't need to re-imagine the final image at all (don't misunderstand: most well-planned images usually don't make it to the printing stage at all for one reason or another; it's just that the image came out as planned, not that it was worth attempting to print). But sometimes, "the best laid plans of mice and men" aren't enough and the image as planned is flawed. The majority of these are simply failures, but occasionally a good print can be made by re-evaluating and re-thinking the composition of the scene included in the negative. This, necessarily, involves cropping, so I crop.

    I just love it when everything comes together and I can use 100% of the image on the negative, but that seldom happens.

    One of the reasons I work with 4x5 and enlarge is to have the flexibility to crop what is on the negative to match the image I imagined before setting up (or re-imagined after the negative was made). My images are rarely in a 4:5 aspect ratio, even though that is what my film is. I try to use as much film area as I can for my images, but anything outside the planned (or re-imagined) image is just waste; printing it would make the image weaker and less expressive. I don't feel obligated to include it.

    Some hold that cropping is indicative of sloppy craftsmanship or bad planning. I beg to differ. For those that wish to work within the constraints of a certain aspect ratio, for whatever reason, cropping is contrary to what they are trying to express. I respect that way of working. I have an opposite approach: cropping is essential to what I am trying to express. I'll leave it to the viewer to decide if I have been successful.

    Best,

    Doremus
    I try not to overthink my photos. A lot of what I shoot is what appeals to me without analysis, trying to some extent to tap what the unconscious might be drawn to. After examining the photo, I am sometimes delighted by elements that were not obvious at first glance. As a result, I find that I have a body of work that is unified by an aesthetic rather than theme.

  2. #32

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    Re: Why Crop?

    Quote Originally Posted by Pieter View Post
    I try not to overthink my photos. A lot of what I shoot is what appeals to me without analysis, trying to some extent to tap what the unconscious might be drawn to. After examining the photo, I am sometimes delighted by elements that were not obvious at first glance. As a result, I find that I have a body of work that is unified by an aesthetic rather than theme.
    Don't get me wrong Pieter. I am driven by the subconscious. I don't analyze why I want a border here or there; it goes where it feels right. The same with aspect rations, etc. And, I too am often unaware of exactly what entices me to make a photograph of this or that scene. My training and awareness of composition, expression, aesthetics and their associated tools are what I consider "pre-programming." I let all that work in the background when searching for a scene to photograph. Still, I plan, or maybe better, arrange how I want the image to be, often not understanding or even trying to understand exactly why. Certainly, however, I'm not shooting randomly.

    Best,

    Doremus

  3. #33
    Vaughn's Avatar
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    Re: Why Crop?

    I usually do not need to move the tripod once I set up the camera on it.

    What does that mean? -- probably nothing of significance.
    "Landscapes exist in the material world yet soar in the realms of the spirit..." Tsung Ping, 5th Century China

  4. #34
    Land-Scapegrace Heroique's Avatar
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    Re: Why Crop?

    It occurs to me that my 4x5 viewing card crops almost every landscape I shoot.

    Call me a 99% cropper.

    That's 99% of the time, not 99% of the film image!

  5. #35
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: Why Crop?

    If there were no crops, there would be no corn flakes, no corn syrup, no wheat bread, no asparagus, no nuthin.

  6. #36

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    Re: Why Crop?

    Quote Originally Posted by Drew Wiley View Post
    If there were no crops, there would be no corn flakes, no corn syrup, no wheat bread, no asparagus, no nuthin.
    Finally... the answer.

    ... and there would not be digestion for birds and some invertebrates.

    Nor would their be bare tummies on some young girls...

  7. #37
    Pieter's Avatar
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    Re: Why Crop?

    Or short shorts or navel-revealing tops.
    Quote Originally Posted by Drew Wiley View Post
    If there were no crops, there would be no corn flakes, no corn syrup, no wheat bread, no asparagus, no nuthin.

  8. #38

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    Re: Why Crop?

    ... or prancing horses beneath equestrians in dressage

  9. #39

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    Re: Why Crop?

    Quote Originally Posted by BrianShaw View Post
    ... or prancing horses beneath equestrians in dressage
    Don’t go there... I know what else you’re thinking!

  10. #40
    Alan Klein's Avatar
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    Re: Why Crop?

    Doremus. But you spend a lot of time setting up the shot and crop only to help. That's a lot more planning and effort than someone shooting from the hip expecting that the crop will save the picture.

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