Cropping with aspect ratio

Now is a good time to review the 2019 photo archive. The ever-ready delete button helps separate ‘the wheat from the chaff’ but before I do so, I like to review and examine why the photo did not work (aside from the obvious technical fails of light & clarity which even post editing never quite puts right).

  • What was I after in taking this photo?
  • Is the focus there but too distant/blurred/uninteresting?
  • Is there a way of cropping in the subject matter?
    – can I crop without losing clarity
    – should I change the aspect ratio with a crop

Cropping is not just about removing blemishes but also offers a re-framing opportunity which may give better focus. I tend to capture images on a 4:3 ratio and as is evident from the following, this is not always the best frame.

January 2019 ~ 4:3 uncropped
[Reflections look good without the 2/3rd rule – wide and deep]
February 2019 ~ 16:10 crop
narrower view emphasises the cosy corner of the quay
March 2019 ~ 11:8.5 crop
always a challenge keeping the heights where the focus includes low horizontals
April 2019: 16:10 crop
greater feeling of intimacy along the bluebell path
May 2019 ~ 16:10 crop
reducing water and sky to focus on the London skyline
June 2019 ~ 16:9 crop
emphasises vastness of wheat field and keeps focus on distant re-vegetated slag heap
July 2019 ~ crop 5:4
a softer focused crop than the square
August 2019 ~ 6:4 crop
narrowing the landscape to bring viewer in closer
September 2019 ~ 16:10 crop
dispensed with unnecessary surrounds which gave an empty, distant feel for this quay
September 2019 4:3 uncropped
perfect ratio for the eyeline of this more abstract shot with colour cross-prcessing
October 2019 ~ 7:5 crop
keeping the vastness of the scene but hemming the subject into view
November 2019 ~ 16:9 crop
almost managing a panorama of Plymouth
December 2019 ~ 11:8.5 crop
getting in on the detail of the Christmas pot-pourri

Conclusion: To a great extent, the subject/scene determines aspect ratio for visual satisfaction but were I to want to print images then 4:3 or 3:2 are the best fit for standard paper sizes. My camera has 4 aspect ratio settings: 3:2; 4:3: 16:9; 1:1 – I should try using these variations more often, rather than cropping later.

Note: For those who like 1:1 ratio, Becky is Squaring the ‘-light’ in 2 weeks

How to know which aspect ratio to use in your photography

Introspectives:  thinking out loud with an aim to improve and learn more about photography. Hence the images are not always for show – feedback is welcome.

17 thoughts on “Cropping with aspect ratio

  1. The Bluebell path is the stand out for me. I must admit that I have trouble cropping photos these days. I didn’t used to have a problem, I think it stems from putting together my first web site in the late 1990s. Everything on the site was as shot and I got out of the habit of cropping.

    1. Thanks for the feedback and I agree as most of the time do not crop but this exercise demonstrated how a different aspect ratio in camera might have improved the shot – I must also use my wilder angle lens more as is evident that landscapes are a pet subject

      1. Recently I’ve started considering cropping some of the photos I post and those I have cropped were done “free hand” rather than to a fixed ratio. It helps that currently I am using an Olympus with a 4:3 ratio or a Sony with a 3:2 ratio.

  2. Love your check-list and your examples. I shall make this list my own over the holidays to weed out my own vast collection of (unnecessarily) kept pics from 2019!

    1. its a good way of ‘re-seeing’ what did not quite work first time. I try not to crop but instead should maybe use a different aspect ratio in camera .
      Also I have been using my f2.8 30mm macro lens for wider shots – quite feasible as it has a diagonal angle of view of 40° but now think I should return to my kit zoom lens (14-140) for wider landscapes!

  3. what a great review of cropping. because of squares I quite often crop, but I do need to experiment more with the different aspect ratios on my camera

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