Cropping and Enlarging – The Creative Process

I was discussing cropping with a friend the other day.  Mainly it was about creativity and composition.  How much should you or can you crop.

For me, there are no limitations at all.  99.9% of all my photos are cropped to some degree.  I mean that it is very rare that I use the complete image in it’s original form.  Sometimes it is just so I can print specific sizes, i.e. 8×10, 11×16, 16×20 etc.  But many times, especially in my wildlife photos, I love to crop close to get more facial shots.

Great Blue Heron - before crop

Great Blue Heron - after crop

But also it is very important to consider the composition.  With my wildlife images, it is sometimes hard to put the bird or animal where you want it in the viewfinder, because of the unpredictable movement of the subjects.  So I generally don’t zoom in tight with the camera.  Rather, I back off a little to give that extra space in the image for cropping consideration.  It’s better to err on the wide side rather than get in too close and not have any options to work with.

On enlarging, I have a plug-in software that I use.  It is published by Alien Skin Software, called “Blowup”.  It is very user friendly and does an outstanding job.  Just enter your dimension that you want, it will crop and enlarge to any size without losing any detail.  Contact  They have a free trial.

Back in my pre-digital days, I once had a man from Phoenix, AZ order a 30×40 print of a Texas Longhorn.  I first had to scan my negative and get a decent 11×14 that I could get the customary way.  Then I used Blowup software to get the 30×40.  The result was outstanding.

On another note, any image can be enlarged to super size with the right equipment.  The McDonald’s Restaurant near me wanted to use one of my photos to enlarge and crop for an 8 foot by 17 foot mural.  Quite honestly, I don’t believe it was one of my best images.  The composition was beautiful, but the original image quality wasn’t as sharp as I would have liked it.  Anyway, they purchased the rights to use it.  They took my scanned filed and sent it to a company in Toronto, Canada, I believe.  They in turn made it into a wall covering, and shipped it in six rolls, each about 3 feet wide.  Here is the original photograph, and an image of the mural in the restaurant.

Whitefaces and Bluebonnets

Mural in McDonald's Restaurant

One strange thing about the mural.  The restaurant owners picked the photograph because of the Texas Bluebonnets in it.  Then, as you can see, the flowers are hidden behind the furniture.

I hope you enjoy this little post.  Click on the images to see enlargements.