i am not afraid to crop and i am not afraid to compose and
print a full frame .. it depends on the image and the format.
In general I compose to the full frame, and print the same. But that said, if I'm messing around in the darkroom and notice that my original square looks better cropped to a rectangle, it happens. I shoot several different aspect ratios as I swap cameras and don't seem to have much difficulty "maximizing my use of real estate."
I have no problem with cropping in the darkroom, although I will admit to an irrational sense of satisfaction when the best choice for a negative is a full frame print.
When I expose the film, I will generally try to fill the frame with my subject, but if faced with a subject that appears strong in a number of different ways, I'll try shooting them in all those ways, and/or shoot with enough room to permit making a cropping choice later.
I think it important to remember that when we look through a viewfinder or at a ground glass, the image we perceive is affected by the frame around it that the camera provides. That frame may or may not affect us in the same way as the frame provided by the choice we make in respect of the final presentation of the print or slide. As an example, a subject that appears one way when viewed through the viewfinder's "tunnel" may appear different in a matted print.
I expect as well that at least part of my desire to compose so as to avoid having to crop comes from early experience trying to print 35mm negatives with obvious grain and mediocre sharpness. If I had started with an RB67 and properly exposed, perfectly developed low speed negatives, I would probably be sloppier than I am now .
“Photography is a complex and fluid medium, and its many factors are not applied in simple sequence. Rather, the process may be likened to the art of the juggler in keeping many balls in the air at one time!”
Ansel Adams, from the introduction to The Negative - The New Ansel Adams Photography Series / Book 2
I'm the opposite. I almost always leave some room around the edges for trimming. Except with 35mm, because there isn't enough negative to spare.
I try to compose to have the image I want cover as much of the frame as I can get it to cover because I am still not used to making my own prints. But then I only end up having to crop for format mostly, and rarely for image, now and then I do crop for image though.
"Would you like it if someone that painted in oils told you that you were not making portraits because you were using a camera?"
"Shouldn't it be more about the joy of producing and viewing the photo than what you paid for the camera?"
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I tend to compose within the viewfinder, and not crop. Once in a while, I'll take a little out, just to make the composition. As mentioned earlier in the thread, if I crop too much... well, then, it feels [and looks] like a cropped image.
I've always felt cropping in the darkroom meant poor vision in the field. If the image on the GG isn't what I want the viewer to see then I need to either take a step or two forward, take a step or two backward, change lenses or change formats.
When I look in one direction instead of another... I am cropping.
When I look at one thing instead of another... I am cropping.
When I choose a camera format to shoot... I am cropping.
When I choose a lens to put on the camera... I am cropping.
When I point the camera at the part of the scene I chose... I am cropping.
When I look though the viewfinder or at the groundglass... I am cropping.
When I move the camera around, looking at the scene through the viewfinder... I am cropping.
When I move one step to the right, left, forward, or back... I am cropping.
When I zoom the lens in or out...I am cropping.
When I turn the camera either horizontal or vertical... I am cropping.
When I project the negative onto a print easel... I am cropping.
When I adjust the blades of the easel... I am cropping.
I make MY OWN PHOTOGRAPHS and I can and will crop whenever, wherever, and however I damned well please!
Please feel free to do the same with your photographs.
Tend to crop as little as possible, as I don't like to lose the resolution. Less of a problem on 6x7 of course, but I still don't like to.
I leave room to crop. Some need to have the extra room if they are purchasing a print that requires cropping. If I didn't provide room to crop then, sometimes, important pieces would be lost. Then I'd have to use content aware scale in PS to please the client.