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The art of cropping pictures

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  • The art of cropping pictures

    I finally framed a picture of my youngster showing at one of our bigger local shows last summer -- Funny thing is they used the same courses as the previous year, and the best shots of us both years was over the same oxer --

    Anyway, summer before last a Big Name Photographer who lives nearby snapped the photo -- A mutual friend asked her to take the picture as a gift for me --BNP did an awesome job of 'personalizing' the picture by cropping it to hide my slipped back leg and the size of the tiny baby green fence --

    Last summer the show photographer caught my gelding in equally great form, but did a mediocre cropping job -- I'd be very happy with the standard full side view if they had centered the shot -- But, there's lots of footing in the foreground even though there's plenty of room to crop around the sides of the jump standards so that my horse and I could be centered in the shot -- I figured I'd see the photographer at another local show and discuss exchanging it, and if that didn't work out I would just fudge things a bit with a mat when I framed the photo -- Never saw the photographer, so I just fudged it last night which looks fine, so it's no big deal --

    Anyway, the reason I'm rambling on about this is because I always thought the picture taking was the hard part ... cropping is the easy part -- All 3 pictures I ordered from 2 different photographers this season were GREAT shots but could use better cropping -- I really appreciated the artistic license the BNP took in cropping that photo, and I'm not expecting that level of expertise from local horse show photographers, but I'm less inclined to buy another photo off them unless it's cropped and printed at the show --

    Is this just the newspaper editor's daughter in me coming out ... being too critical? -- Have photographers laid off experienced staff or are they overtired working to get orders out? -- Do they need better equipment to crop a digital photo while keeping the photo clear? (BNP was shooting film -- I'm pretty clueless about photo equipment) --
    "I never mind if an adult uses safety stirrups." GM

  • #2
    Hmmm interesting post

    My husband is a professional photographer, and he crops and colour corrects ALL his images before sending them out, however I've noticed that most show photographers don't bother. I often wonder if it's worth all the hassle of perfecting every shot, but after reading your post I see how appreciated it is. I'll definitley let him know.. Although I can't help much with your photo. If it was a digital image I'd say it wouldn't be to hard to correct, but being shot on film, it's quite a big process and must be done off of the negative. I'd contact the photographer for sure to see if they could do this for you ..

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    • #3
      I have had professional photos taken where the photo was not centered or there was something funky in the backround. At the time of ordering, I have requested that the photo be cropped to center the photo, hide something in the background, etc. I have never had a problem with them doing this and have been happy with the results.
      Auventera Two:Some women would eat their own offspring if they had some dipping sauce.
      Serious Leigh: it sounds like her drama llama should be an old schoolmaster by now.

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      • #4
        Our local show photographer has a photo 'formula' so each picture looks pretty much the same with equal amounts of footing on either side of the jump. She picks jumps with nice backgrounds and ones where she can get a flattering angle. She sometimes delves into the artistic, but not often. All of the photos are cropped and some are enhanced. She'll do whatever you want if you order the picture, (she even photoshopped one for me, free of charge, so that my coat, which had been flapping in the breeze, was down to cover a not so flattering angle of my stomach). If you buy it at the show it's as is. She's fantastic, and each picture (the small size) is only $8. It's her hobby, not her living.

        At other shows when I've bought pictures from professional photographers and have all in all found them difficult to work with. It probably has to do with working in such a huge volume, I guess.

        Taking pictures, cropping included, is definitely an art. Some people have it, some don't. Some people have it and don't want to use it on things like horse show photos .
        Faibel Farms Custom Fly Bonnets
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        • #5
          I think it comes down to "you get what you pay for".

          We have a local photographer who WILL do the cropping, printing, and colour correction for a price. However he will also sell you a disk of raw images for you to do what you want with. I tend to go with the raw images, but I also know how to correctly crop an image myself
          "Adulthood? You're playing with ponies. That is, like, every 9 year old girl's dream. Adulthood?? You're rocking the HELL out of grade 6, girl."

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          • #6
            Taking the shot is the easy part (if the light is good with digital - my film SLR is a whole other story as you cannot instantly see the chart :P). I find the editing to be way more difficult. First I delete all the uglies, 'cause I know people don't want to see those. Then I color correct, then I do any additional editing, weird eye things and the like. Then I crop THEN I add my watermark. When you are doing this for hundreds of photos it gets to be really time consuming - granted I am doing this one-by-one in Photoshop CS4, since all my clients are private I strive to give them the best results so they are happy with their photos.

            I try to capture some really cool shots that are a little different from show photographers so that my clients have something fun and different to add to their collections without spending a boatload :-)

            I will be shooting a dressage clinic this weekend where I will offer disks to each individual of all their "good" photos, but will also offer prints as well if they would like.

            I can't seem to get my lazy butt into coding my website, so here are some shots on my Flickr (both competition and portraits): http://www.flickr.com/photos/10845305@N08/
            (there probably some non-horse related photos on there as well, oops)
            Coruscant Stables

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Ibex View Post
              I tend to go with the raw images, but I also know how to correctly crop an image myself
              Any tips? I just bought a dSLR and plan on taking lots of horsie photos!

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              • #8
                Originally posted by rwh View Post
                Any tips? I just bought a dSLR and plan on taking lots of horsie photos!
                What kind of tips would you like?
                Coruscant Stables

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                • #9
                  How about the art of just taking pictures lol

                  Most shows I go to the photographers are excellent, but there is this one couple team who take pictures who are absolutely awful...... they get every shot in between the over the fence shot. And then they wonder why no one buys any pictures....
                  If only horses would use their athletic powers for good instead of evil. ~ MHM

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by cgray0983 View Post
                    What kind of tips would you like?
                    How do you crop correctly? How much footing should you see on the sides? in front? how much sky? (I usually crop based on the square iPhoto gives me. The photos come out OK, but usually have a lot of background.)

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                    • #11
                      First it depends on what lens you are using and at what (if any) zoom you have. Most dSLRs can be cropped at the 2x3 ratio (you can chose this option in iPhoto - along with other standard sizes) I usually crop using that ratio in Photoshop as well, since my camera uses that ratio, unless you have something like a Canon Mark III or somesuch, which will shoot in full frame.

                      I tend to try and center the horse in the photo and depending on the height of the jump determine whether I want to crop out some of the jump or leave it in. That is the most traditional way to crop, you want your subject centered. But, if you want to give your audience the idea of what the ring and surrounding are like you can off-center the original shot, by focusing on the jump before the horse get there and then pan to the direction you want to shoot. If I get a really good shot of a horse over a large fence with all four feet in the air and legs tucked tight I often like to leave a lot of room to the ground to show off the height of the fence. Again, it all depends on what you are shooting and who you are shooting for

                      Originally posted by rwh View Post
                      How do you crop correctly? How much footing should you see on the sides? in front? how much sky? (I usually crop based on the square iPhoto gives me. The photos come out OK, but usually have a lot of background.)
                      Coruscant Stables

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                      • #12
                        Before cropping you need to decide if you want to print a 4 x 6, 5 x 7, 8 x 10, etc and then crop to those proportions. Where to crop depends on what you want to emphasis, show or hide. There is the rule of thirds to follow when deciding placement, a lot nice compositions are not centered

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                        • #13
                          In short yes, the crop can make or break a photo.

                          Whenever I hire a new assistant I hover over there shoulder for the first month or so critiquing their crops. Some of them speak to you - "here, here and here! great! hit enter!" Others I'll recrop a half dozen times to find the perspective I like.

                          It's great when horsey and photog cooperate - horsey jumps center of fence, photog gets centered shot with enough background to work with but not so much that the focus (horse) cannot be zoomed in without degradation to the image.

                          Footing tends to be ugly so unless it is a substantial sized fence we tend to crop out about 1/3 of the jump. I typically position the horse a little north of center - not too much - just enough to suggest the action is going up. I also leave some room in front to suggest action is also going forward.

                          I tend to center the horse's head more than the body (for most side-forward angle shots), this leaves the room out in front which suggests forward motion.

                          Most back ends in hunterland are unimpressize, I recrop to bring focus on front end and bascule.

                          If horsey is jumping in the center and the fence is a good size I'll typically crop in about half or 1/4 of each standard. If horsey is not jumping center I will swap the horizontal/landscape layout for a vertical/portrait layout and crop out both wings.

                          Horses hugging one side of the fence or another are doomed to have a giant standard compete for photo focus. (see, do as trainer says, ride the center!)

                          Biggest pet peeve are shots taken so zoomed in that you have no options to work with. A head, some knees and half of the top rail. Gross.
                          EHJ | FB | #140 | watch | #insta

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                          • #14
                            Cropping pictures is SOOOO important. I tend to find that the photographers that use sites like printroom, where they have to upload finished images for order aren't quite as good with the finishing touches as the photographers that take/print orders directly. If you're only editing a few pictures, you spend more time (IMO) than if you're editing every decent picture you took to load to printroom.

                            Here's an example from just a snapshot of how important cropping can be.

                            Original snapshot. It's blech. Really, really blech.

                            But, I cropped it and Now it's one of my favorite snapshots that I've taken of my horse. (Note: I know it's not perfect...it's just a snapshot...but I think the cropping made it a decent one)

                            Around here, I know which photographers to trust with cropping/correcting to the best possible image and which don't really do much. I also know which ones I'm willing to pay $$ for a photo and which ones I'll only pay a $.
                            Keith: "Now...let's do something normal fathers and daughters do."
                            Veronica: "Buy me a pony?"

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