In my most recent blog I talked about he artistic importance of narrowing your field of view (cropping in camera) for better composition at the point of capture. Putting the artistic point aside, it’s never been more important technically, with our digital cameras, to make use of every pixel we have in an image to be able to make the highest quality print we can—especially if our goal is to make prints 16x20 or larger.
In my medium format film days I could crop and use one-quarter of a negative and still make a nice wall print. Can you crop out 3/4’s of your digital file and still do the same? If you have a 50-80 mega pixel camera—No problem! But, most professionals are still in the 20mp range, so we still have to conserve our pixels.
Of course there are situations when you can’t move in any closer, with the lens you have, and cropping in post is your only alternative to improve an image. The following examples illustrate the after and before of a problem image…
f9.5 @ 1/1000 sec., ISO 400: Cropped
I cropped out about half of the image here to improve composition—moving the man off center into one of the “crash-points”, using the “rule of thirds”. I also think this version is more dynamic by not showing the entire loop of the lasso.
Here’s the entire image before cropping…
This version is just too static and he’s dead center in the frame. I did that because he was moving and I had no idea what kind of rope tricks he was going to perform—so, I kept the framing loose. In addition his flat footed stance has him rooted in place. And, I didn’t like his pillar like shadow—especially as it slices its way out of the frame. If I had not been zooming-in on this image in Photoshop Bridge to check sharpness and “moused” around, creating the tight crop, this image would have been a cull!
This jpg of the full size vertical image is 6.52MB. The cropped horizontal version came out to 2.0MB, which is adequate for printing up to a 16x20” print. So, what you start with in file size has everything to do with how much you can crop the image and then how large you can print it.
Working with my current camera’s RAW files that can yield jpgs from 24 to 32 mega-pixels is great, but still some of my really cool artistic crops have reduced some file sized to 2.75 MB! I guess I need one of the new 50MP Canons! LOL did I just justify an expense? Hum…Wonder if my wife would agree? :)
In comparison the image files from my previous cameras (2001-2004) were only 3 or 4 MB and some as low as 1.24MB. However, I have some marvelous images done in Italy, one from Pompeii, that printed beautifully as 30x40 (ink-jet on canvas) and the file was only 2.17MB. Another image from the Isle of Capri, again done 30x40”, was from a 2.05MB file! It definitely helps printing small files using a top quality ink-jet printer and going on canvas, but you also need good quality jpgs, exposed properly, without a lot of noise.
’Til next week…
Author: Jerry W. Venz, PPA Master Photographer, Craftsman, Certified
Training site: http://www.LightAtTheEdge.com
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