Project: Cropping and Extending

Exercise: Cropping

Take three different images of your own and crop them to find a new image within.  Make tracing/notes/sketches about the logic behind your choices.

Image 1: f/5.6 ISO 100 1/80″ 75mm: Jabal Sharat Al Arab, Sinai Desert

Image 1:

I’d noticed this scene at different times of the day during the week I was here, but as Murphy’s Law states, it’s bound to be the last evening you’re there that you see the image within the scene that you want.

Anyone who’s spent any time in the desert will know, the night falls very quickly once it’s started to come down, so I had very little time to capture the scene.  I tried from several different view points, even including some palm trees to enhance the foreground, but as you can see that wasn’t going to happen whatever you tried to do to it.

Image 1 Crop: Jabal Sharat Al Arab, Sinai Desert

Crop 1:

I wanted the mountains from the scene in the final image, but I had to remove the very uninteresting foreground before I could do anything with them.   I eventually had to crop at the line of trees and pylons in the mid-ground which actually follow the main road.  I had to do that as the line of mountain peaks and the feet appeared at an angle once the foreground had been removed and so the image had to be rotated to look correct.  Once that was done, had I cropped nearer the feet of the mountains I’d have lost quite a chunk of the right-hand mountain.  Having chosen my crop point I then had to spend quite some time cloning out the tops of the trees and pylons before the final image as is.

Image 2: f/16 ISO 200 1/200″ 400mm: Red Tailed Kite, Gigrin Farm

Image 2:

I took a trip with some friends to Gigrin Farm in Central Wales to see and photograph the Red Tailed Kites that are the attraction of the farm and Image 2 was one of the resulting images.

Image 2 Crop: Red Tailed Kite, Gigrin Farm

Crop 2:

When working with the image in Elements, I could see that the detail of the bird was outstanding and a heavy crop would provide a stunning image.  I decided that it would be a much better to create a diagonal within the image using the wings and that it wasn’t entirely necessary to get the entire wing length in.  I chose not to rotate the crop any more than the natural angle straight from the camera to try to get a cleaner diagonal as I think it looked better as is.

Image 3: f/6.3 ISO 100 1/1024″ 400mm: Lesser Emperor Dragonfly & Southern Damselfly

Image 3:

I’m quite keen on taking photographs of wildlife and when I visited a pond in some local woodland I was ‘buzzed’ by squadrons of very large dragonflies and so I decided to try to get some shots.  They move from one position to another very quickly and are very hard to focus on.  As can be seen from this image, even at 400mm the central characters aren’t very large.  I didn’t do anything with the images for some time, but when I did I was amazed that I’d managed to capture not only a dragonfly, but a damselfly as well.  The clarity of the image under magnification, and the reflection in the water, was so good that I decided to crop out the dead space surrounding the subjects to enhance the view.

Crop 3:

Image 3 Crop: Lesser Emperor Dragonfly & Southern Damselfly

As can be seen, the crop includes enough of the surrounding water to provide context and support and the reflection is nearly as clear as the image itself in places.

Exercise Learning

Cropping images is not always necessary and when it is, it should be done sympathetically.  I usually try several crops before I’m happy with a final image to ensure that I’ve not missed the best composition.


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