If I were a better photographer I’m sure this next step would be less necessary but sadly as it stands I rarely manage to capture exactly what I want in the frame. That’s partly down to my subject matter, toddlers aren’t known for their patience and willingness to stand still!
For me it’s an easy decision whether to take a less than perfectly framed shot and crop it down later or to wait for the unlikely occurrence that the stars will align and my daughter will move into the exact spot I’m waiting for whilst the lighting stays just right, the expression on her face is just so, or the cat hasn’t wandered into the background.
So, you decide whether cropping later is acceptable to you or not, and of course every cm you crop is thousands of pixels lost meaning your image will never be as sharp as absolutely possible but we also live in an age of 20 mega pixel sensors so I figure I can afford to lose a few.
Once I’ve decided to crop, obviously the most important thing now is what to crop. Cropping isn’t just cutting off the edges, it’s also a chance to straighten or unstraighten, remove unwanted distractions, and even recompose your shot if you’re feeling bold.
With this photo I’m already pretty happy with the general composition so all I’m looking to do is lose a couple of floaters around the edges and remove a bit of the contrast shift at the top where there’s background light above the umbrella.
As well as helping to eliminate any distractions from the main subject, I’ve also taken the opportunity to tap into that magic rule of thirds and have placed the eye right on a third intersect. You’re not always going to be able to get those lines just right but as they say the rules are made to be broken so don’t fret if getting thirds brought into play just isn’t an option.