There is cropping for (e.g.. Aesthetics, Content, Strength, Motion) and cropping into (e.g. web banners, mastheads, billboards, etc.). The difference between them is often lost.
When cropping for you are trying to create the best version of the in-camera framing possible. All other considerations are secondary.
When cropping into, you are trying to fit an aspect ration prescribed, typically, by some container. In the image above, I was cropping for. The natural crop came out to be slightly more than 2:1
This is an example of a crop into. Here the poster being manufactured was 39×13 inches or a 3:1 Aspect Ratio. I am cropping into a radical ratio.
Or here where I am cropping into a web banner on a WordPress blog. This ratio is almost 4:1 but driven by the CSS script on the theme page I was using.
In each of these cases the aspect ratio was prescribed and I had to follow it regardless of aesthetics. When cropping into I go as radical as necessary. 9:1 is sometimes the norm when it comes to web banners.
I got to wondering just how radical do I go in the course of normal cropping for. I walked around my studio and viewed my framed prints. 2:1 seems to be about as radically as I have framed today. The Warrior, a featured print in my gallery, is cropped 2:1 and it was the most radical crop I had in-frame.
I decided to search my Lightroom Galleries for the most radically cropped 4-star photo. I found I had a lot of 2:1, 2.5:1 and even 3:1 images in my portfolio collection. Then I found this Black-tailed Prairie Dog image from last year’s residency at Badlands National Park. 4.97:1 is the aspect ratio here. It looks like for me, when I am cropping for, 5:1 is my upper limit. Nothing in my portfolio suggests otherwise.
The necessity in an image to crop to a radical aspect ratio is rare. But when the image demands it, we have to take the radical step of cropping for to the extreme –even if it means a drastic aspect ratio.
What about Verticals? How far will I go when cropping for? Perhaps in another article.
Rikk Flohr © 2011