Cropping close for better close-ups


A friend of mine asked me the other day if I cropped my photographs.  I replied in the affirmative, that I cropped nearly all of my images to some extent.  Most of them very little, say for print sizes, etc.   But  I like to do most of my composition in-camera or in the view-finder if I can.

Unfortunately, trying to compose an esthetic picture while trying to capture a moving animal or a skittering bird, is very difficult.  So for that reason, I take what I can get, and compose during cropping.

Care must be taken to get your subject in focus.  My method is to use only one of the camera’s focus points.  Generally that for me, is the center one.  The importance of using only on point becomes to be most apparent when I am photographing a tiny bird among the branches, like the wren photo below.  With more than one focus point being used, the lens would be going wild searching because of the surrounding twigs and branches.

The first image below is what I saw through the view-finder.  You can see the difficulty I would have had with more than one focus point.  I also like to use spot metering in these cases, that is, if I remember to change the setting.  (Hey, I am human). 🙂  With spot-metering the chance of getting the subject exposed properly is much better.

Wilson's Warbler - original camera image

Wilson's Warbler - cropped and edited

The same principal applies to the following image of the Dickcissel.  Although the bird is more out in the open, there still was the fence wires to make focus difficult.  Of course, I must admit that one of the most difficult efforts, is to get that focus point on the bird.  But with practice it is easy to do with practice.   Remember,  what I see through the viewfinder is what is maybe 70-80 feet away, and I am looking through my 500mm lens.  I am actually much further away from the subject that it appears.  I had to use my binoculars to first locate the warbler in the bushes.

Dickcissel - original camera image

Dickcissel - cropped and edited

Of course, what I have described is only my methods based on my own experiences.  I am sure that some other photographers have their own ways of obtaining their images.  Heck, maybe I am doing things the hard way, but it is what works best for me.  At least, until someone asks “Hey, Bob, have you ever tried this?”  I am alway open to hearing tips from my peers.

But for now, that’s my story and I’m sticking with it. 🙂

I hope you enjoyed reading my little foray into trying to write an educational article.  I couldn’t think of anything else to write about today.  Click on the images to see enlargements.  Also, check out my other works by clicking on the Flickr logo on the right side of this page.