Cropping a Photo: Problematic Backgrounds

I am spending hours a day discovering how cropping a photo can profoundly alter what the viewer sees. I’m not taking a course, it’s just one of the next two skills I’m working on. (The other being color. See Friday’s post below). And I’m finding it addicting. I’m staying up way too late hooked into seeing how changing where and how I crop and what I therefore leave in the photo and what I take out can alter a photograph so radically.

I’m going to demonstrate a rather straight forward example.

Thursday when I was out, I only had my  iPhone with me. It’s an older model and  is a pretty good basic on-the-fly tool to have. But I can’t get any depth of field when I’m right up close to the object the way I could with lenses on my Nikon D5300. However I still wanted to capture the picture of the seed pods below.


The first thing that is obvious is that there is WAY too much busy background involved because I couldn’t blur the bare branches. So I started cropping to see if I could rescue the photograph. My first attempt was something like this, because I also liked the color of the leaves and was trying to include them:

Version 2

That was better, but was still going to be a photograph that I needed to discard. But I’m stubborn. Plus I’m trying hard to learn a new skill. So I kept cropping further and further in toward the center and then tweaked the color to bring out the contrast between the seed pods and the leaves. Eventually I ended up with the photo below. It’s not the photo I would have been able to take with my telephoto lens, but it is now at least a photo that emphasizes the seed pods. It does have its own charm. And I didn’t have to consign it to the digital dust bin.

*Please note that you can only enlarge the details in photos taken on your phone if you have set it to the highest resolution possible. That means that each photo takes up a lot of memory, but the way around that, at least using an iPhone/computer is that the photos are stored on your devices at a lower resolution, but when you open each photo up, the higher resolution is automatically temporarily downloaded from the iCloud.

Version 3
Image: Zebras Child 2019



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