Crop ’til you Drop…

… those Worthless Pixels

A few weeks ago, in my “Making Sense of Megapixels” post, I touched briefly on cropping to help illustrate a point on image size.  This week, I’ll be talking about cropping images again, but this time from the aspect of modifying an image to not only be pleasing to the eye, but to best capture the true intent of the photo.

Thanks to Cheri (Etsy shop Swept From the Sea Designs) for not only allowing me to use one of her beautiful jewelry photos, but also for providing me with the original image to use for comparison.  Let’s work backwards and look at Cheri’s listing photo first.  Here it is:

Beautiful image, isn’t it?  It certainly is, but what what makes it so special?  Well, here are four things that Cheri did right when she cropped this image:

  • The 1:1 aspect ratio (same size width and height) is perfect for the size of the subject and accessories.  Your images don’t always have to be 4×6 or 5×7.  Be adventurous!
  • The placement of the charms in the image frame pretty closely follows the “rule of thirds.”  Remember. the centered shell, although pretty enough, is not the subject of the photo.  Don’t know what the “rule of thirds” is?  Well, you can patiently wait for me to cover it in a future post.  Or, if you need instant gratification, you can check Wikipedia (but only after you’re done reading this post).
  • There’s just the right amount of background sand — enough to add interest, but not so much that the subject gets lost.
  • The chain just gracefully disappears from the field of view.  There was really no need to try to capture more of it, and there’s plenty there to see what it really looks like.  Any more would be a waste.

Okay, so we saw the finished product, but what did the original look like?  Here, have a look:

It’s pretty nice, but …  Come on, what’s wrong with this picture?  Well, the first thing I see is that we’re not on a beach anymore, are we?  Looks more like sand in some kind on some kind of plate or tray, maybe placed on a kitchen table with something dark and distracting in the background.  Next, there’s just too much stuff that’s not the subject of the image.  Sometimes this works (when the background is just as interesting as the subject) but certainly not here!  Next, the shell and necklace are right in the darn middle of the frame, where they really don’t catch your eye.  And that chain — it just goes, and goes and keeps on going.

I do have one suggestion, and it depends on personal taste and the background of the page that you’re viewing.  Sometimes adding a border to a photo can completely change its look (sometimes for the better, sometimes not).  For comparison, I took Cheri’s image and added a 60 pixel black border.  I think it makes the shot a bit more dramatic, but you be the judge.

So hopefully you’ve seen just how important cropping can be.  Etsy only gives you so many pixels to work with, so don’t waste them on parts of your photos that really don’t belong there in the first place.  And don’t forget to set your camera to give you a large enough image size to work with.  Resizing smaller is easy.  Resizing larger is ugly!

Until next time … Happy Shooting!

2 thoughts on “Crop ’til you Drop…

  1. Pingback: Macro Mode – Know When to Say No « Greenpix's Blog

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