I'm not sure how many digital photographers crop their images during post processing these days. In the days of film, it was quite common. In studio photography especially, the photographer usually allowed a certain amount of room for the negative to be cropped when "framing a shot".
Photoshop and most imaging software packages allow cropping. It is one of the loneliest tools in my toolbox.
In those days of film, there was plenty of resolution with large format cameras. A bit of cropping was hardly a problem. For 4X5, 5X7, 8X10 and larger negatives the amount of image resolution was great enough to produce fine results from only a portion of the shot. There was plenty of room for slop and many photographers used this as a way to work. For many, it made sense to always allow a bit of room in the shot for cropping.
Photographers usually decided on the final crop using a set of "L" shaped cropping guides while looking at the negative on a light box. The L shapes could be positioned to form a window to help decide the framing. Sometimes the area to be printed was marked on a glassine negative sleeve and at other times a pencil was used directly on the film.
Medium format cameras usually produced square exposures. The majority of portrait photographers used the square format to shoot and would crop either rectangular horizontal or vertical images from the negatives. This allowed them to hold the camera without the need to rotate for vertical shooting. It also meant that the heavy and awkward flash units did not have to be flipped for a different orientation. There are high resolution digital medium format cameras, which are used the same way today.
35mm film was an exception for cropping in that the image size was usually regarded as too small to allow much cropping at all. Any enlargement of the film was likely to show unwanted film grain, a reduction in sharpness and magnified dust among other problems.
Consequently, many photographers learned to shoot with a full frame crop. This meant using the entire exposed area of the film. It allowed maximum enlargement while minimized the problems associated with a smaller negative. For this reason, Nikon cameras were sought after specifically for their full 100% viewfinders. Most small cameras even today have a slightly cropped viewfinder.
Other cameras such as the Leica, allowed you to see outside the frame of a bright line framing within the rangefinder view, giving the photographer advanced warning of any possible intrusions into the picture area.
Transparency films also required that the entire area of the film plane be shot fully because the image was not easily cropped for projection. While it was possible to mount images into slide mounts that were a bit smaller and allowed some edge hiding, however, it required extra work, more expense and less resolution.
Shooting full-frame meant that you were utilizing as much of the film emulsion as possible. It meant better enlargements and probably made for better photographers in that it helped us see the world through a restricted window. What we saw through the viewfinder was what we expected in the final print.
In many cases the user would print the area surrounding the image to show a black border indicating that the entire negative had been printed.
Those who practiced shooting full frame on a regular basis shot all formats with the same consideration for detail, enlargement and film usage. It was a matter of habit. For some of us, it meant to never crop anything out of a negative. If it wasn’t cropped well in camera, it was probably not going to be much better with any added cropping. It was a discipline that was considered almost sacred by many including myself.
In the early days of digital, the file sizes were very small. Images were less than a megabyte and the pixel count was in the hundreds rather than the thousands. Even a slight crop meant losing a huge portion of the image and any hope of enlargement. As a result, every pixel was used to maintain as much detail as possible.
Today, it is still great practice to shoot full frame. In fact, it is perhaps even more important when considering certain processes such as HDR. Pixels are the modern equivalent of film grain. The more pixels we can utilize, the higher the resolution and the greater the possibility of creating a larger print.
I hardly ever crop an image. If I do, it is because I had to do it for some strange layout for some strange art director or a crazy work project.
I always work to make every pixel count. I always shoot full frame. I always crop to the frame. I always print to the image proportions and the pixel aspect determines the final framing.
I learned to shoot images this way, as did most of my colleagues.
- 'twas Hip to be Square
- Looking Through A Crazy Viewfinder
- The Real Reason for Image Borders
- Vivian Maier - Street Photographer - Links
- A Look at Interpolation
NOTICE: UNLESS OTHERWISE INDICATED, THIS POSTING AS WELL AS ANY AND ALL PHOTOGRAPHS, GALLERY IMAGES, AND ILLUSTRATIONS ARE THE LEGAL COPYRIGHTED © WORKS OF - JOHN NEEL AND ARE NOT TO BE USED ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD, FOR ANY PURPOSE WITHOUT WRITTEN CONSENT FROM THE WRITER, THE PHOTOGRAPHER AND/OR PIXIQ. THE IDEAS EXPRESSED ARE THE PROPERTY OF THE PHOTOGRAPHER AND THE AUTHOR.
PLEASE NOTE: THIS WORK IS PART OF MY PERSONAL PHOTOGRAPHIC PORTFOLIO. IT IS HOPED THAT YOU WILL RESPECT WHAT I HAVE DONE AND HONOR MY COPYRIGHT. I HAVE BEEN WORKING ON THIS AND ALL OF MY PROJECTS FOR SOME TIME. THE IMAGES ARE A PART OF A MUCH LARGER BODY OF MY WORK. I SHOW IT HERE AS A WAY TO INSPIRE YOU TO DO YOUR OWN PROJECTS, USING YOUR OWN IDEAS. PHOTOGRAPHY IS NOT ABOUT COPYING OR STEALING CONCEPTS OR TECHNIQUES. IT IS ABOUT UTILIZING YOUR TALENTS FOR CREATING YOUR OWN UNIQUE IMAGERY AND ABOUT YOUR OWN WAY OF SEEING THE WORLD. RESPECT THE WORKS OF ALL ARTISTS. DO NOT PLAGIARIZE ANYONES ART.
"IMAGINATION IS WHAT MAKES IMAGES UNIQUE"