Cropping is a great way to not only fine tune the composition of an image but also to help you tell stories.
There are many people out there who simply frame their subject in the middle, leave a bit of space around the edges of the frame and then crop to get the desired composition but I personally try and get my framing and composition right in camera and only use cropping to make small changes to my images.
Looking through the viewfinder and ‘playing’ with different compositions in the field is a fun part of photography and I would rather spend time doing that than sitting behind a computer and cropping afterwards.
During our one of our Masai Mara photo safaris last year I shot this frame.
After watching them relax in the shade of a tree the four young cubs followed their mom as she started moving off.
At the time we were discussing how to shoot images that tell a story and the theme we were looking for at that moment was ‘family’. This is something we end up doing on a lot of our photo safaris as it makes you look past the technical and stereotypical images and makes you focus on telling a story and creating an image that has more to it than just being classified as a nice wildlife image.
But I digress…
I had the four youngsters in my viewfinder but the female was blocking my view – I ‘saw’ what shot I wanted to get. The idea was to have mom’s talk in the corner with the four youngsters following behind her.
I was able to get three frames of this scene but only the one above was close to what I had in mind.
When I looked at it the image was not as strong as what I had hoped for. Their wasn’t enough tail in the shot – damn it was close – and rather than create a strong visual point in the frame the tail now felt like a distraction.
Now rather than toss the image because my original plan for the image didn’t quite work I simply cropped in on the four youngsters.
Even without the tail in the frame you definitely get the idea that this big ball of fur is on a mission and heading somewhere and rather than showing the tail in the frame and creating implied lines I ended up with an image that (hopefully) leaves the viewer asking – what are they looking at? Where are they going?
When you next sit down to process your images don’t forget to use the crop tool. There might be images within images that you have not seen yet.
Until next time.
Gerry van der Walt
PS: I’m heading back to Kenya in two weeks time with Andrew Aveley and a group of guests so look forward to catching up with this little cheetah family. Hopefully some new images of them when I get back! G.