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Photographer: Stuart Russell

The Art of Photography: Cropping

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A series for photography enthusiasts:

Cropping in Photography

Cropping allows focus in photography. If an object is very small it can often be lost among its surroundings. By cropping around the subject you can eliminate background noise, ensuring the viewers attention on the selected object. Some people find it useful making a small viewfinder in order to section off parts of a physical photograph to see what areas look most aesthetically pleasing. You can make a viewfinder by cutting a small rectangle in the centre of some plain card. It is much like a miniature picture mount.

Cropping an image essentially allows the removal of unwanted areas that distract from the main subject and can improve composition greatly. Cropping can be done through the use of zoom on most cameras, but is not always the best option. You can take the image normally, and crop your image on the computer later.

Anstruther Harbour 2011. An example crop. // Photographer: Stuart Russell

Things to consider when cropping:

- Duplicating your original image allows you to practice techniques on one copy and make the final compositional decision on the other. There are lots of ways to crop, so try out a few techniques before settling on a final decision.

- Stick to standard photo sizes wherever possible to make printing an image easier.

- As you get the hang of cropping an image you will start to crop less and less and your eye will become trained at picking out the faults when taking the initial image.

- It is important only to crop when visually necessary.

View more in the series: THE ART OF PHOTOGRAPHY.