Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #96: Cropping the Shot

There is a vast difference between taking a picture and making a photograph.– Robert Heinecken

As I spend more time exploring photography as a creative process, I’ve changed the way I edit a shot.  All too often in the past I’d look at a shot and think–“It’s great” or “It’s terrible.”  I didn’t know how to improve the shot. Over time, I’ve learned the value and necessity of cropping a shot as a way to bring out its best qualities.

Let’s start with the key question.  Why should I crop?  Here’s my first example.

Before the Crop

OK.  What’s going on in this shot taken on a street in downtown Portsmouth?  There’s a distracting roof line at the top.  There’s also extra blank space on the left that doesn’t really add to the shot.

After the Crop

Here’s the shot after I cropped it.  The distracting section at the top is gone, as well as the “dead space” on the left.  It’s now clear that the graffiti is the main focus.  With the crop, the window and graffiti are larger, which helps draw my eye to them.

So, the crop has accomplished 2 things:

  1.  It simplified the shot by getting rid of distractions.
  2.  It improved the shot by focusing on the best part of the composition.

Now, let’s take a look at another example:

Before the Crop

OK.  What’s going on here?  There’s marsh grass in the foreground, which really isn’t adding to the shot.  There’s also a lot of open water which makes the viewer wonder–what’s the focus here?  The water or the houses?  For me, the most interesting parts of the shot are on the left:  the houses and their reflection, so I’m going to crop the shot to focus on that.

After the Crop

That’s better!  I’ve cropped the distracting marsh grass in the foreground, some of the sky and the water on the right.  Now, the main focus is the houses and their reflection.

Colorful Houses by the Harbor, Portsmouth, NH

So, what did this crop accomplish?

  1.  It simplified the shot by getting rid of distractions.
  2.  It improved the shot by focusing on the best part of the composition.
  3.  It changed the meaning of the image by emphasizing the houses and not the open water.

There’s one more reason to use cropping:  to create an abstract.

In this last shot,  I cropped out a large section of the image so I could focus on the texture and design of the flowers.  In addition to cropping, I also intensified the colors and added some texture to the shot to enhance the design.

This week’s challenge is a chance to explore a photo editing technique and the benefits of cropping the shot.  Show us how cropping helped to improve an image and create a desired effect.  Include the shot “before” and “after” so we can see the difference.

Last week we enjoyed your marvelous, creative, and fun “All Wet” images for Tina’s LAPC #95.    

Have You Seen These?

Next week, we’re delighted to announce that Sue of Mac’s Girl will be our special guest host for Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #97 on Saturday, May 16th.  Please be sure to stop by her site and join the fun.  For those of you who like to plan ahead, we’ll return to our regular schedule for Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #98 on May 23rd with Ann-Christine as our host.

As we enter another week at home, I hope you are staying well, staying safe and finding creative ways to stay engaged with the world.  We need your creative spark!  So, please join us.

209 replies »

  1. I’ve missed Janet’s car wash! Must go back and see it 🤣. I do crop a fair bit, Patti, even if only to tidy up an image, but it can be a total game changer. Love your reflected cottages. Have a good week! 🤗💕

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, Jo. I totally agree, Jo. It can really change an image. I’m glad you like the cottages. There are a lot of historic houses here that belonged to ship captains. I love the history! Take care too and have a great week.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I think that cropping can be a godsend. Since I take a lot of photos of horses while they are moving I often find the horse looks great in a shot but I’ve got some other paraphernalia that clutters it up and distracts from the horse. Also I often want to just get the horse “bigger” in the frame. Your crops are very good and effective.Thanks for the before and afters.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, Anne. That makes sense–especially when the horse is in motion. It’s got to be tricky and cropping is definitely essential. I’d love to see some of your “before”‘ and “after” shots. 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Love the invitation, and your examples. I think that with cropping not only do we change the visuals, and where we want to draw the viewer’s attention, but cropping also affects the emotional impact an image can have on the viewer, like in the instance with the shark mural. Thanks Patti

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, Arati. Absolutely. It does affect the emotional impact. I’m glad the “shark” shot worked out that way. Glad you like this one. Looking forward to your post. 😊

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    • Hi, Klara. Thank you! I guess you can tell I was teacher for many years. 😊😊. I know what you mean. Sometimes I want to crop more, but there’s a balance there between “too much” and “too little.” I’m still working on that.

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  4. This is a great theme idea. Great examples to go with it. I have to add…although I live in Arizona, Portsmouth is where all my family lives. What a great pert…for me. Donna. Have a nice weekend Patti

    Liked by 1 person

  5. A fun challenge – excellent teaching, Patti! Loved your cropping and the results are great. I also loved the pattern shot with flowers. An excellent way to create different patterns that I hadn’t thought about. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, AC. Thank you! I’m always a teacher. 😊😊. I love the pattern of the flowers and I’m glad that comes through in the final version. I’m trying to do more abstract shots after we explored it a bit in one of our challenges. Looking forward to your post, too.

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  6. Excellent challenge Patti and shots. I’ve managed to save or improve many disappointing images by cropping. It’s especially useful when photographing birds. You don’t often get time to compose the shot.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, Wendy. I’d imagine so…even how it’s almost impossible to compose a shot with moving creatures! I’m glad you like the challenge and shots. Looking forward to your post. 😊

      Liked by 1 person

    • HI, SH. Thanks! I’m glad you mentioned the flowers…I wasn’t sure that shot worked. I liked the patterns too. There’s something very “Zen” about the shapes and colors. Glad you joined us this week.

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  7. Lovely examples Patti. I do like the houses on the lakeside. I crop a lot, when I am not shooting in the square format that is! Like you, to get rid of distracting elements, or to emphasise the subject or to create an abstract as in my flower photography. I’ll see what I can offer.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Excellent review of the importance of using crops to enhance an image Patti. The images are terrific as are your explanations. Loved the opening example and your final image is really beautiful. Excellent challenge!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. hi there – the crop with the houses is the one I like after the crop – and for some reason. the first one – I like the before – but both good.
    I will be back with my entry later in the week.
    wishing you a nice day P
    🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Thank you for this instructive prompt, Patti. I suppose there are some universal cropping rules, but in your cases I agree very much with the first and don’t agree with the second. I prefer your original photo. In the third it would be interesting to see the original but I like it very much. So interesting to see how other people do it.

    Here are my many examples. Always interested in other opinions.

    https://mexcessive.photo.blog/2020/05/11/l-a-ahh-crop/

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, Manja. Interesting that you like the original in #2 and not the crop. I’m always interested in knowing why. There’s always personal preference! Thank goodness we all have our unique perspectives! I’ll take a look at your shots next. Glad you joined us–as always!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Oh yes, I agree, it’s good that we don’t think the same, all of us, and take the same photos. Well, I’d like the cropped photo just fine if I didn’t see the original. I suppose I’d cut it less at the bottom, to leave some of the dry land in, just a little, to still be able to see the edge of the lake. I’ve been trying to crop mine according to the rule of thirds, but sometimes I flex it a little. 🙂 Naughty like that.

        Liked by 1 person

  11. Great examples of cropping and beautiful shots to boot, Patti! 🙂 It’s interesting the evolution of photography as we learn things. I, too, used to think a shot was “good” or “terrible” before learning more about cropping. Another of my big “errors” when I was beginning was shooting my favorite beach scenes and not knowing that the horizon should be straight. I remember hearing about that in a photography tutorial and was like “oh my goodness!!” lol. I still never get it quite straight, but now I know the magic of fixing it during the editing process. 😉

    I hope you’re having a wonderful week. Stay well!! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Pingback: Get A Closer Look
  13. Pingback: Drops |
  14. I was really sorry not to join your challenge this week. Life was against me! I crop, if I’m going to as I look at my photos after downloading, so I had no ‘before’ images. And then my SED card corrupted itself this week, so I couldn’t go and take any fresh shots, I may submit a post long after the event!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Patti – thank you for the lessons on how to and why you crop the photos. Very informative. And I do like the cropped shots better. Wait … I can’t believe I said that – cuz’ I always like your shots no matter what you capture, so the before shots were still good in my opinion!

    Liked by 1 person

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