Crop that Shot

photo crop, digital imaging, Panasonic DMC FZ200
f/2.8, 1/1600 sec, ISO-100

So, you’ve been out in the field and captured the money shot. You can’t wait to get home and view the image on your computer. You stick the SD card into the reader, wait a few moments and … yikes, there’s some color distortion, focusing issues, or maybe a background distraction that you hadn’t noticed while framing the image.

Thank goodness for photo editing. The picture above is not exactly a money shot, but it did need some fixing. My camera has a small sensor and low resolution (12.1 megapixels) so it’s a challenge to capture the perfect image. In fact, most of my photos lack crispness and detail. I typically add a bit of sharpening and color enhancement to the pictures you see here.

One of my favorite techniques is cropping. This is usually because the image is not properly framed. Your optical viewfinder may not show 100% of what the lens sees. The 5% that you don’t see could make the produced image off-center. A simple crop will fix this problem.

Cropping is useful in cutting out a visual distraction or isolating a specific area of interest, but this technique can also ruin a picture so make sure you save a copy of the original. Essentially, you are enlarging the image with a telephoto effect. However, this blows up the pixels which distorts images taken with a low resolution camera. If your camera shoots 50.6 megapixels  — like the Canon EOS 5DS — this is not a problem. By the way, Canon is developing a 120 megapixel SLR. Keep in mind that entry-level cameras typically shoot in the range of 12-24 mps.

Consider whether you really need to buy a longer lens. I could have taken the shot below with a telephoto, but achieved the same effect with cropping. If you start with a halfway decent image this technique can be very useful.

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