Cropping

Pleasant Valley v. LehightonThis photograph of running back, Austyn Borre, was taken at a Friday night football game when the Bears traveled to Lehighton to take on the Indians. He is obviously running with the ball and his eyes are focused upfield. However, there is at least one distracting element in this photo–yep, the referee. His body is cut off weirdly and having him in the photograph really doesn’t add any good quality.

Cropping is a method of taking a photographing and removing unnecessary and distracting items in a photograph simply by downsizing or cutting the size of the photo. It is a tool used by many newspaper and magazine editors, and it is a tool you need to learn as well.

Cropping can be done in a variety of ways, but I prefer to maintain the proportions of the original image almost 100% of the time. Strange results can be produced when original proportions are not maintained.

Some argue that cropping should never be done no matter what. Well, this might be a good goal–to get it right in-camera, but sometimes in the heat of the moment, some distracting and competing elements are captured along with the main subject. Cropping can be very helpful when used wisely.

Pleasant Valley v. Lehighton

The crop in this photograph removed the referee. I still do not like the two bright yellow vests appearing on both sides of this running back. They are distracting to me as well, but look at what happens when we crop even further while maintaining the same proportion.

Pleasant Valley v. LehightonNotice I switched the crop to a vertical format instead of landscape. This much tighter crop was needed to avoid cutting off limbs at improper places. The rule of thumb here is to never cut off a persons limb at a joint, like an elbow, write, shoulder, knee, or hip.

As you can see in these three images, cropping can have helpful and even sometimes dramatic effects. Used wisely, cropping can be your friend to make a good photograph even better. Learn how to crop and learn how to crop wisely!

 

 

How to Crop Baseball Photographs in Lightroom

Yesterday I posted four photographs from the Pleasant Valley baseball game I photographed. It was a late night and so I picked four favorite photos to share. Today I’d like to show you how I cropped two of these photographs to give you an idea on how you can crop baseball photos to enhance them and make them look better.

Let’s start with this photograph.

It’s not a bad photo but we can make it better. The nice thing is it shows the second baseman making a play with the baseball in the frame. This is a peak-action shot. There are some problems though. First, the top of the fence is bright yellow and distracts from the main subject–the player fielding the ball. Secondly, the foreground has grass and then dirt. This first patch of green grass is also distracting. So let’s crop down to eliminate the yellow on top of the fence and crop up to eliminate the first patch of grass. I prefer to have Lightroom display a grid when I am cropping to show me a graphic display of the rule of thirds. When I am not cropping a photo, I don’t like to see this overlay because it can be distracting. I set up Lightroom to only show this grid when I am actually cropping a photograph.

To set this up in Lightroom, go to the Develop module and make sure the Toolbar is displayed by pressing the “T” key. This toggles back and forth between the toolbar being displayed. Once it is displayed you will see “Tool Overlay” in the bottom left-hand side of the editing screen. Click on the double arrows and choose “Auto.” Now the grid will only display when you are actually cropping a photograph.

Here is the cropped photo alongside the original photo. Do you think the cropping made a difference? Which photograph do you prefer?

Okay, now let’s look at another example. This is a photograph of a pitcher on the mound delivering a pitch. The first image has some obvious problems. The first baseman can be seen on the right edge of the photograph. There are also two brighter rectangles near the top of the photo that I think are somewhat distracting. Besides these problems, I’d like to crop in tight to really show and highlight the face of this pitcher in the middle of his windup. Here are the before and after photos.

I am posting this last image to show that cropping is sometimes a bad idea. This photo shows a base runner sliding into home. I was first tempted to crop this image because of the coach in the right upper corner. His white shorts I thought were distracting. However, upon further reflection, I liked that the baseball bat on the left side and the ball on the right side of the image were both important to include in this action photograph. So ultimately I decided that cropping this photograph was a bad idea and simply left it as it was.