A view of my world in Central Illinois and places we go.

The Magic of Cropping

Our local camera club has several “internal” competitions every year – by “internal”, I mean the club members present a selection of themed images to a 3-person jury, and the judges pick the top four images of the theme. For example, last night, club members were asked to submit images for three topical themes: Dusk to Dawn, Monochrome, and Shadows & Silhouettes. What is most informative to me, and I think to club members, is to listen to the judges, learn from their critique, and hopefully improve your images. Some of this should occur as you look through the viewfinder, and inevitably, some will occur in post-editing. Some people freak out over working on their photos after they create the image in their camera – I understand that. But, sometimes all it takes is a little “cutting” on the left, right, top, or bottom of the image – technically called “cropping.”

So, one of the images I submitted under the Dusk to Dawn was this sunset on Lake Michigan from our favorite summer vacation area, Pentwater. I called this “Sunset Thru Dune Grass”. Catchy, huh? Below is the original image, which I believed had way too much sky.

Original image

Original image

Here is the image I submitted, and you’ll notice that I have cropped off some from the top of the image (by the way, it took 2nd place!):


Image submitted for the competition

During the critique, it was suggested I not only crop more from the top, but also off the left, thus moving the sun farther from the center of the image. They all thought I had chosen to cut too much off the bottom, and I generally see their point, and I can’t remember specifically why I did this – I chose this image from shots I took in 2013. So, here I have cropped from the left and I think you will see a little improvement:


Here now I have cropped more off the top. And I think it presents a much better image than the original:


Now the dune grass plays a more prominent part of the image, which when I think about it, was what I had originally intended. By moving the sun to the left, it enhances the emphasis of the dune grass, and perhaps, add a little more interest by getting that focal point (the sun) farther off-center. If there is one thing that might have made it better was to have moved myself (and the camera!) a little to the left, so the grass did not go through the sun.

My thanks to the judges for helping me see better. And, next time you are looking at your images, think about the simple process of cropping. It’s easy and all image processors, including your iPhone, can do it.


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