One Image. Three Crops. Which Works Best & Why?

Andrew Beck Andrew Leave a Comment

Sometimes it is not always possible to achieve the perfect composition in the field and although one should always be looking to compose correctly before taking the shot, there are times where cropping an image can dramatically enhance the overall look and feel.

Here is an image which I have processed in Lightroom 5 with the composition as I originally shot it (for whatever reason).


Image 1 | As Shot

Now when I was looking through my archives this image didn’t stand out particularly well. It felt somewhat unbalanced but the content is what grabbed my attention and made me think that there may be an interesting story here. After processing the image I started to play around with various crops and even asked Andrew “The Badger” Aveley for his thoughts.

The traditional cropping guideline using the rule of thirds would have left me with something along these lines:

Crop 1

Image 2 | Rule of Thirds

The focal point of the image (the leopard’s head) has been placed firmly on the intersecting lines according the the rule of thirds yet somehow it feels like there is a little too much of the body in the frame. Trying an alternative I came up with this:

Crop 2

Image 3 | Look & Feel

A slight change from the initial crop and it does feel a little bit more balanced than before despite this crop not conforming to the traditional rule of thirds.

I am interested to hear which crop you feel works best and why? Leave a comment on this post or drop us a line on our Facebook Page.

Andrew Beck

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Comments 0

  1. Renier

    I prefer the last one, I feel the body of the leopard is irrelevant in this photo, where he is looking is more important and by taking more of the body away the focus is more to where it is looking. I must say what I really, really like about this photo is the depth of field and how the grass is only in focus where the leopard is looking. A smaller aperture with more of the grass in focus wouldn’t have had the same effect. Great shot

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      Andrew Beck

      Thanks Renier!

      I also tend to prefer the last shot (Image 3) of these options. You are spot on with the focus being on the direction of the leopard’s gaze rather than the body etc.

      Thanks for the feedback!

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  2. Karl Lindsay

    Hey Andrew, when I saw the first shot, I was reminded of some of my shots when you look back at them and you wonder why you composed the way you did… When I scrolled, I immediately liked the 2nd one much better. I agree with everyone else that the third one is stronger, but perhaps you could crop the top and bottom and make a pseudo-pano to emphasise the direction that the leopard is looking?

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    Andrew Beck

    Thanks Karl

    Yeah its a tricky one and thats exactly why I thought I would share this. The nice thing about working an image like this is that it makes you think about possible ways and options of making what you have work.

    The pano crop would work nicely to emphasise the direction as you suggest.

    Subtle changes can have a dramatic impact on the story an image tells!

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    Andrew Beck

    Only a pleasure Renee, its not always as straight forward as it may seem! Trial and error and personal preference play a major part in the decision making process.

    Chat soon!

  5. Nan

    I agree with everything Renier said. I wish I had his eye and gift of words. The third one appeals to me the most. This is a phenomenal animal with an intensity considerably above a normal gaze!

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