I crop when I need to/why wouldn't I?!! Lately I've been experimenting with printing to a 16:9 ratio, as a grand, self-amusing experiment to see if anyone notices, or if people have some kind of reaction to what must now be such a familiar ratio for viewing visual content in the home. So far, nothing... :-) But the aspect does feel strangely 'right'.
Never never never let the "rules" rule! I've had cameras with viewfinders that weren't seeing exactly what the film did. I had to include a little more in the frame of the viewfinder then print the image I actually saw when I took it. Even so the act of pointing the camera and choosing the distance is essentially cropping albeit in camera.
When Ansel Adams had a fire in the Yosemite studio he had to put all the glass plates in the bath tub. The famous Half Dome plate lost part of the image so he had to crop the image in printing. He didn't throw it away but used what he had. And that's good, it is a great photograph!
What bothers me a little is if the photo is rearranged and disconnected from when it was made, for me personally that takes something away from it. Sometimes I get the impression that some people here forget there was a conscious choice to make a photo and think the final result viewed in a vacuum by an anonymous viewer is all that matters. I think imperfections and quirks and even "mis-framing" are part of the moment in time the photo caught. Sorry if I sounded like I was standing on a soap box!
I prefer to print full frame, especialy with 6x6 negatives as I like the square format, but as all but 2 of my cameras are fixed lens it doesn't always work, so I tend to crop, if I have to, within the square frame, or 35mm frame,
It's extremely rare that I crop an image during printing. If I do I've almost always made that decision at the time of shooting not later in the darkroom.
It happens to me that I have with me one of my square cameras and looking at the groundglass/screen I thik "Now that would look so good in panoramic format." So I try printing it thus in the darkroom and continue wishing I had an xpan or a 6x14camera (this aspect ratio somehow suits me best - for me is a sweet spot between 6x12 and 6x17..
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I work predominantly with large format (since 1986) and used to carry a Leica as well but found I wasn't using any of the images/negatives. Now I carry a TLR instead and found I love the square format, and also have a 6x17 camera. At times I carry all three when I think I may want to shoot Panoramic images.
Here's examples where formats are important, all shot at Aphrodisias in the Stadium.
All full frame.
Nice examples, Ian.
When I go to photgraph in earnest I usually bring the 18x24 and a 6x6 MF - I make then prints from both formats - Kallitypes from LF an mostly lith prints from MF. But often I think that it might work better if I used only one format/system. But for that I'd need to find and buy a 13x18 enlarger.
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I try to get the framing right in the camera. Sometimes I succeed. Sometimes not. Actually I enjoy fine-tuning the crop afterwards. It allows a perspective I may have not seen when shooting.
But here is a thought. What if the crop in the camera does not meet what you see? You're limited to the cameras format. What if the camera allowed you to format in the camera? Would you use it to get a better shot? If so, then what's wrong with cropping after the fact if the camera does not meet what you like to frame with it originally?
Here's another issue. What if the print format does not meet the negative or chromes format? What if you have the fortune to get it printed on a magazine cover? So you have to crop anyway.