Thursday, June 2, 2011

To Chop or Not


Chopping arms, legs and heads in the wrong places gives your photos a distracting unprofessional look. Your photos look like snapshots if cropped incorrectly.

These photos represent some of my early photography. These photos were shot with my Point and Shoot camera.  I’m pointing this out because not everyone has or wants expensive camera gear, but still wants to take great photos.

Let's review some example photos to give you some ideas for improving your photography:

Chopped at the horse and horse trainer's knees and the trainer's left arm creates a distraction and snapshot quality photo:



 Photo snapped to include legs and arm creates a much more professional and pleasing image. I also included a view of the rain soaked road they are walking down for added interest.


Don’t chop off part of a head, hands, feet or legs unless done with well thought out planning.


Chopped off legs and the background on the right side of the photo give this photo a snapshot quality: 


Cropping out the right and bottom of the photo tightens up the emphasis on the little girl enjoying splashing the water:



Tightening up the cropping even more on the side of the photo draws the viewer's attention to the child's face and the splashing water. From the look on her face she is certainly enjoying herself!


Take a step back, move closer, zoom in or out to prevent cutting off an arm, leg or feet in the wrong place. Shoot more into your photo than you plan on using - you can crop your photos in post editing for the look you want to achieve.


Right arm and hand and feet are cut off in a distracting way:



Backing up to include arm and feet makes for a professional quality photo:




We are striving for stylish professional photos. 


Another example of chopped arm and hand:



Moving in closer to tighten up on her face is much more pleasing, less distracting and much more professional looking:





Zooming in to take this shot would be better:



Zooming in closer gives a better view of the baby's sweet face:




Practice taking lots of portraits of family and friends - practice makes perfect and there's nothing more rewarding than sharing photos of family and friends. You'll have a lifetime of treasures in your photography.


Good to great photos come from practice, reading, looking at other photographer’s work and more practice. Oh! And practice and reading ….. 





44 comments:

Jenni said...

Very informative and beautiful photos.

Debra said...

An aspiring photographer couldn’t ask for more in terms of excellent shooting tips. In fact, dear Mari, I know two friends who are aspirants and would greatly benefit from your expertise. And so it has been decided that you are the chosen mentor for these students. You know the proverbial saying, “When the student is ready the teacher will appear." And voila! The best has arrived. You’ll be hearing from them soon.

melissa said...

wow mari... you know i love doing portraits... i almost always do double shooting, i zoom in on the faces and then i also shoot with the whole body in it... knowing why i should shoot in a particular way gives me a sense of guide and direction... THANK YOU FOR THIS WONDERFUL TIP mari :)...yehey, i'm on my way to improving my works ;)

Ravenmyth said...

Great pointers Mari...and easy ones to remember. Again a good use of visualization with the examples...sometimes easier to remember that a long disertation.

Beautiful photo's, you truly captured each moment...

Enjoy your garden...!

Sailor said...

This was another nice lesson. I am too bad with cropping and chopping. I should keep this in mind if I have to do that.

David said...

Love the way you utliize photos to demonstrate the proper way to shoot pics. Another informative post that will help us beginners greatly. Glad you're back, missed you!!

Mari Sterling Wilbur said...

Thank you all for the comments and great feedback.

Anonymous said...

test comment

Mari Sterling Wilbur said...

Thanks David - the sun finally came out in the rainy Pacific Northwest and I've been gardening. I did get some photos taken also :D

fantacy in practicality said...

loved to go through your post. the simpler yet careful notices while taking a snap was described so well. i did not feel it to be hard at all. my first lesson, i will always remember. now, i have got a mentor. thank you so much Mari.

FAYE said...

I love the babies! Thanks for the infos when it comes to photography. =)

http://fayerydust.blogspot.com/

Just Another Thought Online said...

My fiancé and I love taking pictures and making them into wall art around our apartment.

Your tips will make those photos even more impressive when we have guests come over!

I found your post very helpful and easy to understand. Thanks for keeping the amateurs with point and shoot cameras in mind.

bod for tea said...

Great advice Mari, I always ask myself the question 'to crop or not to crop' and this post has crystallised why for me :D

alejandro guzman said...

you can really see the difference. All i need now is a camera and not my dang phone...lol
thanks for the tips

A

SJ said...

Its funny because until someone points it out I never really thought about where to chop before. I always try to keep the main subject in the shot but I really like the way you show how you can create a great looking shot with a crop.

Mari Sterling Wilbur said...

Alejandro - check out this post re using a phone camera:
http://mariscamera.blogspot.com/2011/05/artistry-comes-from-photographer-not.html

Alfandi said...

wow..things we photographers don't indulge the clients with..{lol}..nice tips..

Judie said...

Mari, this is an excellent article, and one of the reasons that I am the only one in the family who is allowed to use the camera!!

kendra30752 said...

Wow! Amazing tips! I definitely learned something here. I love that you added the photos to show how much of a difference it makes. I really didn't realize what a huge difference it did make when chopping off arms and all. Thanks for the wonderful tips! I love them and will certainly remember those.

Great job and you have some amazing photos!

Blessings,
kendra

Mari Sterling Wilbur said...

I can't express enough how wonderful it makes me feel to receive the comments - the positive feedback lets me know my work is appreciated.

Queen Of The Armchair aka Dzintra Stitcheries said...

Thank you Mari...great tips...I will think of you now and be aware when chopping off any bits in a photo...Dzintra

KD said...

Good suggestions and helpful to have the examples. Thank you!

Climb2Nowhere said...

That's so funny because at first I thought the first one with the horse was fine, but then you're right. It's so much better when you don't chop off limbs! It's all in the details I guess. Thanks for the informative and very beautiful lesson!

Team G Square said...

Agreed. Its very essential to get the right frame to make picture perfect

Gary's third pottery blog said...

nice to meet you and thanks for the visit, I love what you have here!

Pooch Purple Reign said...

great tips... thank you. i think most of the time i just get lucky haha
~laura xx

Nelieta said...

You have a great way of explaining Mari. Thank you for sharing your tips with us. It is much appreciated.

charlie nitric said...

Hi Mari -

I didn't know that changing the cropping that much made such a dramatic difference until you showed me the differences. I totally see the affect by adding the full image of the walking horse lady and the muddy road. Also, the improvement by zooming and properly cropping the little girl splashing, as you showed me, is night and day better. Thank you. :)

http://charlienitric.wordpress.com/

Simran said...

Hi Mari :)
Thank you so much for giving such wonderful tips :D
Lovely blog :)

emilene said...

Thanks for great tips Mari and for your lovely comments on my hiking blog as well! If you ever come to Africa you are very welcome to spend a day in the Cape mountains with us - it's a photographer's dream! :)

Mari Sterling Wilbur said...

@Emilene - gosh! I would love to visit Africa and go on a photo shoot with you! Your blog is so informative. I love the stories and your photos.

lakwatsera de primera said...

I'm concentrating now on taking portraits since I'm more used to taking landscape pictures. I found your tips helpful as always.

emilene said...

Thanks for great tips Mari and for your lovely comments on my hiking blog as well! If you ever come to Africa you are very welcome to spend a day in the Cape mountains with us - it's a photographer's dream! :)

Nelieta said...

You have a great way of explaining Mari. Thank you for sharing your tips with us. It is much appreciated.

KD said...

Good suggestions and helpful to have the examples. Thank you!

kendra30752 said...

Wow! Amazing tips! I definitely learned something here. I love that you added the photos to show how much of a difference it makes. I really didn't realize what a huge difference it did make when chopping off arms and all. Thanks for the wonderful tips! I love them and will certainly remember those.

Great job and you have some amazing photos!

Blessings,
kendra

Alfandi said...

wow..things we photographers don't indulge the clients with..{lol}..nice tips..

SJ said...

Its funny because until someone points it out I never really thought about where to chop before. I always try to keep the main subject in the shot but I really like the way you show how you can create a great looking shot with a crop.

Just Another Thought Online said...

My fiancé and I love taking pictures and making them into wall art around our apartment.

Your tips will make those photos even more impressive when we have guests come over!

I found your post very helpful and easy to understand. Thanks for keeping the amateurs with point and shoot cameras in mind.

Mari Sterling Wilbur said...

Thanks David - the sun finally came out in the rainy Pacific Northwest and I've been gardening. I did get some photos taken also :D

Mari Sterling Wilbur said...

Thank you all for the comments and great feedback.

Ravenmyth said...

Great pointers Mari...and easy ones to remember. Again a good use of visualization with the examples...sometimes easier to remember that a long disertation.

Beautiful photo's, you truly captured each moment...

Enjoy your garden...!

melissa said...

wow mari... you know i love doing portraits... i almost always do double shooting, i zoom in on the faces and then i also shoot with the whole body in it... knowing why i should shoot in a particular way gives me a sense of guide and direction... THANK YOU FOR THIS WONDERFUL TIP mari :)...yehey, i'm on my way to improving my works ;)

Debra said...

An aspiring photographer couldn’t ask for more in terms of excellent shooting tips. In fact, dear Mari, I know two friends who are aspirants and would greatly benefit from your expertise. And so it has been decided that you are the chosen mentor for these students. You know the proverbial saying, “When the student is ready the teacher will appear." And voila! The best has arrived. You’ll be hearing from them soon.