- Beginner to Advanced Landscape Photography Techniques
- Here’s What You Need to Know as a New Photographer
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Cropping a photo artistically is a good skill to have as it can dramatically change the impact of our landscape photography. Cropping in photography can change aspect ratios, composition, and the emphasis of specific subject elements. The benefits of cropping are that knowing when and how to crop landscape photos will result in better images.
What Is Cropping In Photography?
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At its simplest, photo cropping is removing unwanted outer areas from the image frame. With more advanced cropping techniques, we can change the aspect ratio of the image from what the camera recorded, convert from horizontal to vertical or vice versa, and straighten horizons or other lines.
In digital photography, a bare bones, perhaps free, post-processing app or program is all we need for basic photo cropping. The tools for using cropping in a program are usually mouse clicks and dragging. The program may also have presets for constraining to a specific cropping ratio.
Cropping as Correction
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Post-processing programs are pretty amazing. They operate so much like using a film and paper darkroom that anyone who learned photography shooting with film can become completely comfortable using a program in digital photography.
That may not mean much at first to someone who learned photography on digital cameras, but it’s an important factor in post-processing that it operates much like a physical darkroom for basic operations since our digital cameras are bound by the same rules of exposure as film cameras.
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Cropping techniques are part of that aspect of digital photography that are similar to film photography. Simple cropping techniques such as straightening a horizon line are in this group of tools. Most programs go a step further in that they will automatically crop in as do this straightening so your image doesn’t have diagonal outer borders, though you can turn that off if you want.
Extra Cropping Techniques and Tools for Digital Photography
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It’s probably fair to say that most of us are shooting primarily or exclusively digital, so there are extra benefits of cropping with digital post-processing programs we can use.
One of these fantastic digital tools is perspective correction and lens distortion correction. If your solution for how to crop landscape photos is a full featured post-processing program, then it likely has distortion control factors for many popular lenses already built-in.
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Using the lens distortion control feature is as simple as choosing the lens used from a drop down menu. As the program corrects the distortion that the lens introduced into the image, it crops in or out slightly to accommodate the adjustments.
Similar to lens distortion control is perspective distortion control. When using wide or ultra wide lenses, the focal length, camera position, and shooting angle can add a lot of perspective distortion to an image. This control is usually variable as to the strength of correction. Again, as the program makes the adjustments, it crops in or out accordingly.
Change Aspect Ratio or Orientation
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One of the more common reasons for cropping a photo artistically is to fit the image into a specific aspect ratio. By aspect ratio, we mean how tall it is compared to how wide it is.
Full Frame 35mm format and APS-C format have the same aspect ratio as 35mm film, 3:2. This corresponds to a print size of 4X6 inches and other multiples of this size, all of them being a 3:2 aspect ratio.
MFT and 4/3rds format has an aspect ratio of 4:3 which is very close to cinema 35mm which is half frame of Full Frame or film 35mm making MFT a great format for movies.
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The common enlargement sizes for decades have been 8X10, 11X14, and 16X20 inches which have an aspect ratio of 5:4. So any image shot on MFT, APS-C, or Full Frame digital formats but printed as 8X10 or any of its multiples will be a cropped image.
You can also change the image orientation from horizontal or landscape to vertical or portrait. Though this change of orientation may involve a lot of cropping in of the image area which might affect image quality, it can also dramatically change the impact of the image.
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One of the benefits of cropping in photography is that we can remove distracting elements from the edges of the image frame. Something as simple as a curb or a trash dumpster can take a person right out of our carefully composed landscape photo. So being able to crop out the distraction can really improve the final image.
You may also be able to adjust composition into something more like the rule of thirds by creatively cropping the image, moving subject matter in the image around in relation to the edges of the image frame.
You could also center an off center subject or move a centered subject to one side of the frame or the other by photo cropping. Once you get into the train of thought of how to crop landscape photos, the creative image possibilities will virtually leap off the monitor for you as you’re using your post-processing program.
Crop In Camera
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Knowing how to crop landscape photos with a program is a great method for gaining the benefits of cropping, but there are also cropping techniques you can use in camera before clicking the shutter.
Changing lens focal length is one way to crop in camera, which can be accomplished by changing lenses or zooming in and out with a variable focal length lens such as the kit lens supplied with many beginner and prosumer cameras.
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Also part of how to crop landscape photos is to move around, or “Zoom with our feet.” Sometimes merely walking a couple of feet can dramatically alter our photo cropping. Other camera position changes such as kneeling down or raising up a little can work for our in camera photo cropping.
Combining any of these various cropping techniques together might also enhance landscape images and other styles of photography to take full advantage of all of the benefits of cropping in photography.