A good argument could be made that one of the most
frequently used if not popular digital imaging software tools
is the crop tool. Not necessarily because people really want
to use it, but because they have forgotten to frame their
shots properly before snapping away.
Granted, it is
easy enough to crop away unwanted areas after the fact and
thereby make them look like they were well composed in the
first place, but unless you have a high-megapixel camera and
have remembered to shoot at high resolution, cropping can put
severe limitations on the size at which your photos can be
presented onscreen or in print without looking jaggy.
Here are some well-framed photos.
If you don't intend to run full-screen slide
shows for friends and family or print out any enlargements,
then the limitations of cropping won't worry you. But if you'd
like to retain as much flexibility in your images as possible
and avoid having to bother with cropping, then here are
a few easy-to-remember things to think
First, if your photo is going to include people,
take a moment to reflect on what you'd like to have
in the photo before you request that your subjects hold
still. Once they are standing still and holding a smile you'll
be under pressure to get on with it and will likely spend less
time thinking about image composition.
Second, look for
both natural peripheral (side) borders that might frame your
shot nicely and for objects near the sides of your shot
that might be distracting. Think of it like this: While
fitting the full trunk of a tree into your border might look
great, including the public trash can in your shot of a
cathedral probably won't.
Finally, with the above in
mind, try to ensure that you are getting just the right amount
of foreground and background. There is no hard and fast rule
for specific amounts as they will change according to what
kind of photo you are taking. But here are some general
guidelines: The horizon should usually be above the middle of
the photo. In people shots, foreground should be
minimized, while in landscape shots more foreground can
lend better perspective. Likewise, don't allow too much
additional space on either side of your subjects in people
These tips should help keep you from having to
use your crop tool too often. Happy snapping!