This week’s blog tip will be a simple one. If you do any kind of post-processing to your photos, it’s pretty easy to take the lazy route when you’re taking pictures with the thought that you’ll just fix it or improve it in post later. Sometimes, an issue with a photo can’t be avoided or isn’t noticed at the time the shutter button was pressed but if you know you can improve the quality of an image by getting up and taking twenty steps towards your subject, it would be well worth it to go ahead and move closer. If you’re a habitual cropper, you’re more limited than you may realize, and here are three reasons why:
- Resolution – If you don’t have one of the latest, greatest DSLRs with eleven billion megapixels, then the more you crop, the more detail you remove from your image. If you then post your images to a social media site like Facebook, then the quality of your image will suffer even more. This could take what was a tack sharp image and turn it into a dull, unimpactful version of itself.
2. Depth of Field (DOF)- If you are shooting using a shallow DOF to blur out things that could pull attention from your subject or add more emphasis to your subject, then cropping you photo actually cheats yourself out of the even more shallow DOF that you would get if you just got your butt up and moved closer to the subject and frame it the way you really want to, like in this image:
3. Image noise – If you crop an image taken in a low light situation with a higher ISO, you may actually bring out more of the noise created by using a higher ISO. This can be combated using the noise reduction in whatever editing software you’re using but noise reduction tends to soften an image a bit.
Dont get me wrong, I’m not unrealistic. There are perfectly good reasons to use the crop tool. For example, The central autofocus points on a DSLR are typically more accurate than ones near the edge. So using the center point can provide more accurate and faster autofocus, especially when tracking moving objects. The image can then be cropped later to a more impactful composition. Another reason is if you just plain ol’ can’t reach your subject and need to remove some dead space, like in this image:
The point of this post is to prevent you from allowing yourself to use the crop tool as a crutch. There is no black and white answer to whether you should crop your images or not. Just don’t use cropping as an excuse. Try and get the framing right in camera if you can. However, don’t shy away from cropping an image if relocating or recomposing doesn’t result in a better image.