Tuesday, March 15, 2016


The power of cropping, either in camera or in post capture, cannot be over estimated. How much or how little you show of your subject can completely  alter a viewer’s reaction to an image. I tell my students that with careful cropping, “you can reveal more by showing less!”  I believe what sets the amateur snap shooter apart from the professional image maker is how the professional Narrows His/Her View of the world. As a professional, I start the cropping process in camera with my choice of lens. Rarely do I use the so called “normal” 50mm focal length lens. I’m either in close with a wide angle or, more often, I’m backed-off using some kind of telephoto taking slices of my subject—looking for interesting details. 

In contrast most amateurs using fixed lens point and shoot cameras or cell phones take pictures of everything with the same lens—usually a short range zoom or a medium wide angle.  This creates a sameness to their images. They just take, what we call in the film making world, a series of “Master Shots”—which is recording the whole scene in front of their camera. In the professional world of filmmaking the Master Shot is just the beginning—it sets the stage—and is followed by close-ups, reverse angles, and inserts.

The image bellow is the most interesting piece of a small barn here in Eagle, Idaho.
f13.0 @ 1/400 sec., ISO 400, lens @ 170mm
This is the color image I started with….my “Master Shot”.

Lens @ 200mm
Then I moved closer went vertical, and shifted my position to the right to clear out most of the vegetation seen through that window on the far side of the barn….

Lens @ 170mm
The final version I cropped and converted to B&W in Adobe Camera Raw. 

If you want to progress as an artist in photography you must use the power of cropping at least some of the time. To do that you need to get past the “Master Shot”—it’s only the starting point in exploring a subject. In order to accomplish this you must also recognize the unique characteristics of the subject in front of you—that requires Vision. Unfortunately many photographers’ work I see tells me they have sight, but not the vision to show me something ( anything! ) original in their work.

So, the next time you find yourself standing in front of some iconic subject that everybody has photographed (e.g. the Roman Colosseum, Yosemite, Delicate Arch, Monument Valley, etc.) don’t just do what the other photographers have done—sure, get your master shot, but then go further—slice it up, change lenses, move to the position other than the “scenic view”!

As usual, should you have questions or comments don’t hesitate to drop me a note…’Til next week.

Author: Jerry W. Venz, PPA Master Photographer, Craftsman, Certified
Training site: http://www.LightAtTheEdge.com

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