Case Study: Cropping (be careful what you chop off)

One of my peeves with many pictures is how parts of the subject get unceremoniously cut off in a frame. If a subject gets cropped in a manner which the photographer did not intend, then chances are, the frame is ruined without major edits. At this stage, I’d be thinking of how to fix it through post processing (which we’ll get into later), or maybe shooting again, if possible.

This happens quite often with moving subjects, where you don’t have a lot of time to compose your shot. Or maybe you just didn’t care that much while in the moment — like in a party with groups of people where the photographer would rather be in the picture, rather than taking them.


Take the above example. I hadn’t noticed it at the time, but a portion of my friend’s foot got excluded from my frame. This, to me, is already a fail. But at least here, I had the excuse of not having the time to be careful, as he didn’t stay in position for long.

This, however, was a different story:


I had all the time in the world with my camera sitting on a tripod. I took several shots of this little bridge in a garden in Chiba and I zoomed in a bit too close. It wasn’t that noticeable through the viewfinder, but it is pretty obvious here. I had this tiny bit of the railing’s reflection cut. This is also a fail for me (in most cases, at least). Even if the reflection is nearly whole, I didn’t have my usual separation from the edge, like so:


Equally annoying are those artifacts around your subject that weren’t supposed to be there. Admittedly, while I have learned to be very careful about not truncating the subject, getting photobombed left and right by all sorts of objects is something I continue to struggle with in the field. And it hurts when it’s a picture that you can’t just recapture anytime you want, assuming it’s at all possible.


Even now, in this class, I have seen students having these problems in a number of their photos. There will always be times when you commit such mistakes. But you can drastically minimize it through practice and a conscious effort to give your eyes as much time as it needs to consider everything in your frame.