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Think Inside the Box – Cropping for Maximum Impact

Editor’s note: Due to technical issues we’ve lost the images on this article. Our sincerest apologies.

Cropping. It’s pretty much the first thing you learn to do to edit a photo.

You don’t need Photoshop to crop (hey that rhymes!) – for goodness sake, even your phone can crop photos these days!

Cropping is the most powerful tool for editing but also the most dangerous because even a teeny weeny little cutting can entirely change the composition of your photo, it must be done with great care. But it’s not like you’re cutting up your only copy with scissors so you can also be brave!

Thirds – “The rule of the thirds” is the rule of thumb when composing a shot. If you miss composing it the way you want when taking the photo, no problem, just crop it!  This is a great article by Darren Rowse about the rule of thirds.

Breaking the rule – In Darren’s post, he writes – “I will say however that rules are meant to be broken and ignoring this one doesn’t necessarily mean that your images are unbalanced or uninteresting. A wise person once told me that if you intend to break a rule, you should always learn it first to make sure you’re breaking of it is all the more effective.”

What an excellent saying! Once in a while, I feel a bit rebellious and I break the rule but I always do it blatantly.

I don’t bend the rule and crop in halves. I just place my subject smack bang in the middle to create a feeling of boldness and make a shot more in-your-face so that it cannot be ignored.

Leave it to fate – C’mon people it’s not permanent – take some chances! I know, I know, I’m a geek but I get a huge thrill out of cropping with my eyes closed.

Sometimes when you don’t think about what you’re doing, it can give some really amazing results you never thought of on your own.

In Google’s Picasa program, there’s even a setting to let it suggest a few cool crops for your photo. The crop on this photo I took last week was a total fluke but it ended up being one of my favorites!

Rotate as you crop – Most programs have an option to rotate as you crop. Rotating an image gives it a sense of motion. A running child suddenly looks like a superhero!

Cropping is sheer magic. It allows you a second chance to recompose your shot or to take an already perfect photo and make a second shot out of the first which has an entirely different composition, feel or perspective.

I would recommend never ever cropping on your camera screen. Some cameras offer this option. And sometimes, it’s best to just leave well enough alone. As an editing addict, I often have to restrain myself from destroying an already wonderful image.

Be brave and happy cropping!

How do you approach cropping? Feel free to share some of your favorite cropped shots in the share your shots section of our forum or by leaving a link to them on your favorite photo sharing site in comments below.

Read more from our Tips & Tutorials category

Elizabeth Halford
Elizabeth Halford

is a photographer and advertising creative producer in Orlando, FL. She wrote her first article for dPS in 2010. Her most popular one racked up over 100k shares!

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