Sunday, July 18, 2010

Tip of the day: Shooting the crop

Stephanie D3/70-200mm 1/200th f/11 ISO200 @190mm B1600 in 7" reflector from camera upper right. No makeup. A few adjustments in PS.

Stephanie D3/70-200mm 1/200th f/11 ISO200 @200mm B1600 in 7" reflector from camera upper left. B800 from camera front right for rim light. SB800 in purple gel through a bed sheet from camera left.

I've seen differing points of view on this one but I feel pretty strongly on this one and I'll present to you my body of logic that supports this idea :)

When composing the frame, I generally shoot the final crop that I want. While I'm a big fan of experimentation, I don't believe in experimentation at the cost of well-thought out composition.

When I first started shooting, I shot all my frames as full-length portraits. Every shot included the entire body. That way, later on if I decided to crop for the face, I'd have everything in the frame that I needed.

That works if you a) have no foresight and b) have lots of megapixels to spare.

That doesn't work if the modeling agency requests that you provide them a large resolution file in excess of 4,000 pixels on the long end.

Over time my composition got better and I began shooting the crops that I wanted and not cropping the image in post. This integrated my retouching mind with my photography mind both of which should be the same thing. Admittedly it wasn't until I was comfortable with retouching that I realized that my full-length images were boring.

Do I still crop? Sure. But not so much. I might crop off 5% here and 10% there with the original composition to get it "just right" because when I'm shooting, things are dynamic. I might be a little off here and there but generally I want the frame to be well composed when I see it in Lr and later in PS. Sometimes I crop because the aspect ratio is not what I want so I'll crop into a 6x4.5 instead of a 6x4 or even sometimes a 5x7.

I'm pretty open to the idea that you can do whatever you want to enhance the image and that includes being liberal in your post-process composition/cropping. But cropping down to where you're left with 25% of the original image bugs me... a lot. Perhaps I like megapixels or perhaps I feel that a frame should be shot with intent and purpose. Recropping in Photoshop is a crutch. It's an excuse for not having good composition in the first place. Compose correctly and you won't have to crop in Photoshop and you'll have all your megapixels to spare ;)

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