11-22mm Lens, Canon 50D, Photo a week Challenge, Photo Challenges, Photo Editing, Photography, Picfair, travel, What I Am Working On

What I Am Working On: Cropping

One edit that I do to almost every photo is a crop. I don’t have a set in stone way to approach it but often it’s the first edit I do. I’m usually thinking something like, what do I really want to say in this photograph?:

ISO 800 14mm f/11 1/320sec

In this case I knew I wanted it to be about the boulders, their imposing and larger than life presence in the landscape.  To do this I was thinking about having them seem to almost spill out of the bottom of the frame. While a good rule of thumb with photography is often to have something all the way in the frame and not running into the edges, in this case I was going to deliberately choose the opposite.

In Luminar, two cropping overlays are available for use. They are the rule of thirds and the perhaps less known golden ratio. While I don’t always crop using these guidelines, I usually at least give it a thought. They both provide a helpful guide to making a stronger composition. If you are interested in a comparison and explanation of the two methods, this is a good place to start.  Here are two screen shots showing how the lines look within the editing software.

Cropped using the rule of thirds:

Screen shot showing the rule of thirds overlay.

Cropped using the golden ratio:

Screen shot showing the golden ratio overlay.

I went with the golden ratio for this crop. It fit well not only with my overflowing boulders, but with the path in the middle of the photograph:

ISO 800 14mm f/11 1/320sec

From there I warmed up the ground quite a bit, it helped throw the sky into a more dramatic contrast. I have also sharpened the photo, which particularly brought out some of the interesting detail in the boulders.

What do you think of the edits? Do you have a preferred way to crop your photos? Your comments are welcome below.


Added to A Photo A Week: Vanishing Point.

Picfair Version is here.


38 thoughts on “What I Am Working On: Cropping

  1. I try to crop whilst taking the shot but that only seems to work half the time. I tend to crop to the ROT but this post and the PetaPixel link has opened my eyes to composition – thank you. Once those warm tones came out, your photo glowed


  2. Thanks for walking us through cropping. Can you tell me how you “warmed up” just the rocks? I cannot figure out how to apply an edit to one section of the photo versus the entire photo. Thanks.


    • Ok, so the generic answer for just about any software would be that you would: a) apply a mask to the photo b) paint over the area that you would like to change c) with the painted in part selected, apply the changes to that area
      What software specifically are you using? as the specific directions vary a bit.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks. It seems like an obvious question that I should know, but I cannot seem to figure it out. I use Photoshop Elements and find it quite counterintuitive. Thanks for your patience with elementary questions.


      • So, unfortunately, I have experience with PS and Lightroom but not Elements. That being said, there is a lot of crossover between the programs. I found this link for you: https://www.dummies.com/photography/photo-software/adobe-photoshop-elements/layer-masks-in-photoshop-elements-11/ I hope that it helps, but there is a particular reason I picked it. Under step 4, they mention in passing to make sure you have the mask selected. I wanted to bring this to your attention because I find that it is very easy to, for whatever reason, not have it selected, and then the edits obviously won’t apply properly.
        Also, I find it very telling that right in the instructions, they have a part that says “when things run amok”, that right there should tell you that even though it may seem like you are asking what would be an obvious question, it really isn’t. Masking require a fair bit of practice in my opinion.
        Also, just out of curiosity, it seems like you haven’t been blogging much lately? or are you on a new blogging space and I haven’t run into you there yet?

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks very much for the link. I’ve bookmarked it and will return. Masking is something I’m just starting realize may help my photos. I use a lot of Adobe products and I continually find using them the difficult. They don’t interact with me like many other programs.
        And thanks for noticing I’ve not been blogging! I’ve taken a break because I finished writing a book (my blog was a forge for hammering out ideas) and because I’m teaching more and because I didn’t think my writing mattered and then I started to lament the state of social media. Your blog, however, I’ve continued to follow because you share so many insightful things. You give me hope that perhaps among all the photos I shoot, something may turn out ok. Thanks for the generous spirit in your writing!


      • Yes, I would say that once you are to the point where you understand how to do the basic edits, masking is a next logical step. It can be a very powerful and effective tool. I don’t find Adobe products to be intuitive at all, however, they are market dominant at this point. In part because of that, a lot of the other software on the market has a similar feel, so even if you do make a switch to another brand in the future, the hours you have put into learning editing will not be lost.
        I’m sorry to hear that you are not blogging at the moment, but I do think that a blog is really just a tool, and if it isn’t working for you at the moment, it becomes just a bit of a drag and therefore is better to just leave it. I would argue though, that your writing (or whatever other creative outlets you have, I know you did some sketching too) is important. There is a lot of negative stuff on the internet and I think it becomes important to have positive content too.


  3. Willow says:

    I’ve never taken an art class nor a photography course, so I have no idea what either of those rules are… I just eyeball it whenever I crop something. Guess I’m off to Google now. 🙂 Good work on the cropping though.


    • Thank you. The rule of thirds is the more common technique. Once you have read about what it is, you may be surprised at how many times you have actually applied this rule. Since it is a rule that just puts into words what our eye tends to intuitively do, it is a fairly common sense type rule, although with all rules, just blindly applying it to everything doesn’t work either.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. It might not be surprising, but I find that I crop more at wide angle and even with a very tight zoom. I crop at wide angle to remove spurious details, and I crop at long zoom because focus on a key feature would be further emphasized with a crop. It may also not be surprising I like your final edit the best.


  5. I don’t think I really have a systematic cropping process, more a moving of edges till I find something I like. The only time I do have a process is if I’m doing a photo for Instagram when I’ll crop it to 5×4 so I know how it will turn out. What I do notice is that if we’ve been away somewhere and I print out a photo to stick on the office wall at work the crop proportions are going to be very similar to the ones already there, so there must be something I find subconsciously satisfying about it 😺


    • That’s very interesting, what you say about having something that you just intuitively like, and that the results are on your office wall. I’m least likely to have a process when it comes to Instagram, so I guess the opposite of you in that regard. Thanks for commenting because I always enjoy reading about how other people approach their photography.


  6. Yes, being warmer (and a little brighter) is a big boost for the rocks.

    My own cropping is almost always free cropping.  I like an aspect ratio roughly like the golden, but my top priorities are to eliminate distractions and leave the good stuff nicely placed in the cropped image.


  7. Matal says:

    I used to crop when working in 35mm but these days I don’t crop at all (and neither do I make any manipulations). I have no artistic answer for this and have a sneaking feeling it may just be laziness. But it does suit my style at the moment. Thanks for this article, very interesting.


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