Cropping - good or evil?

Discussion in 'Enlarging' started by KenM, Feb 9, 2004.

Do you crop your prints?

  1. Yes

    98.5%
  2. No, I print full frame

    1.5%
  3. No, I print full frame with negative borders

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  1. KenM

    KenM Member

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    I'm curious - when printing, do you crop your final image? I'm not really interested in what format you shoot, but rather in the final product.

    Personally, I do crop my images (both 6x6 and 4x5) when necessary. Cropping is your last shot at removing any distractions that may detract from the photograph. Additionally, if you're shooting XxY what do you do when you see something that doesn't convieniently fit into a XxY negative? I say crop it, to make the image you saw when you made the negative.

    When printing the full negative, I never show negative borders. Why? I think negative borders look messy, and are incredibly distracting.

    Of course, these are my opinions. Yours?
     
  2. Annemarieke

    Annemarieke Member

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    Most of the time I print full frame, but if necessary I do crop.

    Sometimes I previsualise an image that I am shooting in a square format, I shoot 6x4,5 medium format. Those images always end up printed square.

    I have posted an image in the Standard gallery to illustrate what I mean.
    Anne Marieke
     
  3. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Sometimes I do, sometimes I don't. Sometimes I even print with negative borders, but that's when I need every last fragment of the negative to get the image I want. It looks better with dark borders than dark flare from the borders...

    so I vote "yes" - I have nothing against cropping and prefer that to running out of negative.
     
  4. Cheryl Jacobs

    Cheryl Jacobs Member

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    Given my methods and subject matter (mostly candid portraits of kids) cropping is essential. I try to compose in-camera and quite often can print full-frame, but with moving targets, you have to be willing to adjust after the fact.

    That said, in my fine art work (also children but they tend to be slightly older and less flighty) I almost always print full frame.
     
  5. lee

    lee Member

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    Unlike Cheryl, don't shoot moving targets. Therefore I generally have the time to compose fully on the ground glass and I do this every time I release the shutter. Like Francisco said in the other thread about this, when I shoot 8x10 they are contacts and this leaves very little wiggle room for cropping and still having an 8x10 contact print. Some may say they do it for a "purity of vision". I know guys that full frame every format. 35mm to 7x17. It is a good excersise for people to learn to see in their chosen format.

    lee\c
     
  6. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I try to shoot full frame, but sometimes the world just doesn't arrange itself in a 4:5 or 1:1 or 2:3 aspect ratio.
     
  7. George Losse

    George Losse Member

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    I would say that now I shoot 99% of my images with LF cameras and contact print. So, I also do the composition on the ground glass no matter what my subject matter. Even my figure work is shot with LF and contact printed. Now, I don't include the negative borders.
     
  8. victor

    victor Member

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    yes, full frame is the best of course and there can be given a very strong arguments for that. i do love very much the 2/3 ratio. (i have past the love to 1/1 and even the 1/2 panoramic). but it is true that it is not always the best way just to put things in thios format. what i do is that im cropping in simetrical way to avoid the problems of pespective and point of view when u crop. when i make image especially on the 23view camera i take it into my concidirations. (for example i can ignore on the gg of the 1cm from each side to make it like 67 format.).
    on the small camera it is much more problematic ecpecially on the rangefinder. but i suggest that instead of getting to be used to cropp, it is better to analyze why u want to cropp in order to avoid this cases. the main reasons can be or too short lense or too long distance, so each time it is better to try to match what u realy want.
    in the forum of "ethics and philosophy" i wrote in one of the discussions i think "zen..." about the visualization and lenses. with this approach that i work i usually avoid the problems of cropping etc.
     
  9. victor

    victor Member

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    by the way...
    the problems that come with cropping is especially unaccaptable with photos taken with short lenses (wide). the wider the lense the more problematic it is.
     
  10. Leon

    Leon Member

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    i'm with everyone else here - try not to have to crop, but can see no "bad" in doing it when necessary.
     
  11. blansky

    blansky Subscriber

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    I have never understood the sort of elitist concept of "you must be a hack if you can't compose and print full frame" mentality that sometimes exists. That if you crop you somehow didn't envision the shot.

    I feel that sometimes the better shot is a crop from your original concept. Cropping is often a way to remove a lot of information that you initially thought important but realize later or in the darkroom is extranious.

    When photographing people I, like Cheryl, photograph a lot of kids, and cropping is often essential. In fact, I purposely leave a lot of room around them so I can determine the frame later. Otherwise they would possibly end partly out of frame or would limit what I could do to the final image in the darkroom.

    Another thing I found through the years doing portraits is that when I was determining exposure in the darkroom, on say a 16x20, I would use an 8x10 for the face test and found that the very tight crop was in itself an interesting picture.

    That eventually enabled me to essentially, make dramatic cropping more of a standard practice in a print that I may want, but still enabled me to sell something with less crop. Not all customers want a portrait of just their face cropped tight.

    Michael McBlane
     
  12. victor

    victor Member

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    michael...

    i dont think we are talking about the elitism here. we are talking about the practice. i dont say that if u crop sometimes u dont know to compose, yes, sometimes it is very important to make a good crop even if it problematic. but imagine that there is a photographer that just take pictures and then in the darkroom creates them from the biggining. can we say about such photographer that he knows what he is doing in terms of proffessionalism and understanding and implamentation of the understanding. of course there are cases that u say on the street, just push the shutter, no time to go, to move etc. i was working on some "social portraits" not long time ago. u walk in those poor neibourhoods and u see things that can amaze u. mother hits her children, housband screams on her wife etc.. no time for "perfect composition" just scale the focus, approximate the exposure if needed and push the shutter. yes, in the darkroom u may crop it. but then i started to realize once again the importance of full frame. the plus point of those photos is that even th cropping is excusable when u capture such shocking moments.
     
  13. victor

    victor Member

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    michael...
    by the way if u like cropping those portraits as u said, than just take a rangefinder with 75 or 90mm lenses and u will have 36 dynamic expressions on the same quality if not better when u will print it on the 8/10" paper
     
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  15. lee

    lee Member

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    For me, this whole concept came about because of Bresson. He was alleged to have printed full frame. The people that were influential in my photographic life at that time were proponents of composing full frame. For a commercial shooter or a portrait photographer, I would think it is not something that would benefit them.

    When I look at cropped images, I think I can tell the difference in a cropped and uncropped image. For me, it has to do with the aspect ratio, I think. The images looks different than it would uncropped.

    lee\c

    edited for spelling errors
    l\c
     
  16. fparnold

    fparnold Member

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    I used to be more rigid about trying to not have to crop, but that was because of shooting slides. Still, there are times outdoors when the options are either accept some cropping during printing, or learn to levitate. (I've tried, and I'm not picking it up too quickly)

    On a related note, does anyone else sometimes just throw a negative up on the baseboard really large, and then look for other possible compositions within the frame? As long as they transition smoothly, I kind of like having 'microcompositions' within the major picture, as it gives you the challenge of finding the pictures within the picture.
     
  17. Juraj Kovacik

    Juraj Kovacik Member

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    I've printed only full frame - usually taken on 35 mm with basic leans. But that is only my opinion / kind of sport or something about purity of process etc... only personal thing. Generally I think everybody have to find his/her way. You can obtain a nice picture with or without croping. Both is fine if you are satisfied.
     
  18. Aggie

    Aggie Member

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  19. ian_greant

    ian_greant Member

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    I crop but rarely. With my LF I usually know before I've put the film holder in that I'll be cropping later.

    Sometimes my photos are improved (and dramatically!) by cropping but usually a tosser is a tosser and cropping a good photo seems to change it's basic nature.

    This may seem a bit odd but.. it's almost like you capture a little bit of the magic of a place and once you crop the photo it just seems unnatural. In reality it is probably just an optical effect I'm too primitive too understand and am hence attributing to the supernatural :wink:

    Cheers,
    Ian
     
  20. KenM

    KenM Member

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    Why do you consider it a failure? Perhaps you don't have the lens to attain the best composition you can, or maybe there is no lens that's perfect for the situation; rather, there's something near the edge of the frame that couldn't be avoided for the composition you wanted. It's not a failure to acknowledge that you'll crop it out later.

    But I'm glad you'll crop even if it does bother you :-D
     
  21. Eric Rose

    Eric Rose Subscriber

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    Cropping is a tool. Just as choice of developer or film and tone of printing paper. To choose not to crop if you have the ability to is to introduce an artificial handicap IMHO. Now if you want to always print full frame and that's part of your artistic interpretation, then all the power to you. It's just that some images are improved with cropping. I've done some where a wide narrow presentation looked best and I didn't have a panorama camera laying about.

    One of the nice things about using the 6x6 sq format is that I can get both vertical and horizontal croppings. Although I generally end up composing for the format used I certainly don't rule out cropping on some ethical grounds.

    I may be wrong on this but I think even the contact printers can still crop if they so choose.
     
  22. Aggie

    Aggie Member

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  23. SteveGangi

    SteveGangi Member

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    When I first take the photo, I try to get as close to "full frame" as I can. Then later when I print, I will crop as needed. I do this for 35mm and 120 film. When shooting large format, I will be contract printing, so I just try my best to go "full frame" all the way through. It has nothing to do with any philosophy for or against cropping. For example, if I really missed the mark with the 8x10, I have no problem cutting the print down to 5x7 (cropping by chopping?). I'm not a purist, I'm a pragmatist. Whatever works within the confines of the medium and tools.
     
  24. Eric Rose

    Eric Rose Subscriber

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    That's why they make chocolate and vanilla ice cream! Personally I like both he he.

    I try and do everything in the camera, but sometimes it's just not possible. There are other times I have made a great print from a neg full frame and then someone comes along and says, hey why not crop it this way. And guess what, another great print from the same neg. Different people see things differently. Now if I totally didn't agree with their suggestion I would stick to my guns, but I'm open to constructive suggestions.
     
  25. photomc

    photomc Member

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    What EricR said..sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don't.

    It really isn't the be all, end all if something gets cropped..

    Now for contact prints, I can see not cropping, at the very least..if we have to crop it may be a way telling us to slow down, there is not a deadline for most of us to produce and image..

    Many of us just have a hurry up lifestyle that leads to cropping (I hope the full frame police don't read this)
     
  26. Jorge Oliveira

    Jorge Oliveira Member

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    First, since I'm a 35mm user and like my photos in 24X30 cm format, I usually have no choice but to crop.

    I've done some full frame negs in 30X40 cm paper and then trim so the finished print is 24x36cm.

    Now, I try to avoid as much as possible unnecessary cropping (such as using a short lens for a distant subject).

    Jorge O