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Digital Photography : Cropping Photos To Tell A Story

Updated on November 15, 2014

A Picture can save a Thousand Words

Many of us take photographs to help us to remember something special - a person, a place or an occasion. There is a well-known saying: 'a picture saves a thousand words' which we can easily relate to. Imagine how many words you would need to use to fully describe a groups of friends enjoying a beach barbecue! On this page, I show you how to use photo-editing software to improve and correct your photos, and how to tell the story you want to tell by cropping your images correctly.

I took this photo in Snowdonia. It shows a beautiful lake, Llyn Teyrn, from the Miners Track, on the descent from Mount Snowdon. It reminds me of great times walking with friends in the mountains. After a bleak start to the day, the sun began to break through the clouds. Magic!

The photos on this page are all my own, and copyright to me. Please contact me first, if you wish to use any of them. Thanks!

What Story Are You Trying to Tell?

Having the ability to edit your own images can help you to improve them. Cropping images is a basic editing technique - how close you crop will depend on the story you are trying to tell with your images.

Here we get a much better idea of what's going on. The female is scurrying away while the males are occupied!

Our Best Shot

but not good enough

In an ideal world, we would always be able to compose our images perfectly. We wouldn't discover a tree or lamp-post mysteriously 'growing on someone's head' in our holiday photos and we would be able to zoom in close enough to see people or objects in detail. Sometimes, though, we just have to take the best shot we can e.g perhaps you wanted to remember the male tortoises scuffling over the female at the zoo.

Please note that the resolution of these photos is quite low. I took them several years ago, at Linton Zoo, on a low-res digital camera. Now, it's possible to get hold of an easy to use camera, with excellent resolution, at a very reasonable price.

Ninja Tortoises?

But if you're only interested in the scuffle, you can crop even closer.

Cropping is a skill, but it's easier to get right if you first make a decision on which story you are trying to tell with your image.

Some problems you may encounter

1) Image RESOLUTION being too low to allow you to get in any closer - certainly a problem with the tortoises above.

2) Objects in the wrong place that can't be cropped out - sometimes we have to use additional techniques like removing blemishes by painting or cloning.

3) Images tilted at strange angles - we may have to straighten the image before we crop.

The Digital Photography Book
The Digital Photography Book

The Digital Photography Book is practical, filled with useful tips and the tricks that professional photographers use. It will help you get the most out of your camera, by selecting the right location and the right settings for the situation.

 

Photo-editing Software

There are hundreds of different programs available, depending on your needs and on how much you want to spend. My favourites are always the Adobe Photo-editing programs, but there are many others that you could try. All good software programs have built-in help or "tutorials", so don't worry about getting started.

If like me, you are UK based and would like to see highly rated cameras available in the UK. You will find some superb Digital Cameras here

The links for cameras, software and books on this page will take you to the US based supplier Amazon.com

Great Range of Digital Cameras

Digital cameras vary in quality, resolution and price. I have selected some very reasonably priced, but still high quality cameras, which hopefully will inspire your photography.

Canon PowerShot A2300 IS 16.0 MP Digital Camera with 5x Optical Zoom (Black)
Canon PowerShot A2300 IS 16.0 MP Digital Camera with 5x Optical Zoom (Black)

This stylish camera is compact and easy to use. It has a 16.0 Megapixel Image Sensor, with DIGIC 4 Image Processor, 5x Optical Zoom and 28mm Wide-Angle lens, all of which combine to help you capture more dynamic, exciting photos.

 
Canon PowerShot ELPH 150 IS Digital Camera (Silver)
Canon PowerShot ELPH 150 IS Digital Camera (Silver)

With the Canon PowerShot, you can take high quality photos in a wide range of conditions. It is a 20 megapixel camera, with 10x optical zoom, and smart AUTO selection based on 32 shooting situations. It's easy to use, with great speed and functionality to give you the best results.

 

Tough, Water Resistant Cameras

Do you enjoy beach holidays, water sports or skiing? If you want to take photos of these activities, it is possible to get a tough, water resistant camera. The Nikon is a great example.

Nikon COOLPIX AW120 16 MP Wi-Fi and Waterproof Digital Camera with GPS and Full HD 1080p Video (Orange) (Discontinued by Manufacturer)
Nikon COOLPIX AW120 16 MP Wi-Fi and Waterproof Digital Camera with GPS and Full HD 1080p Video (Orange) (Discontinued by Manufacturer)

The Nikon Coolpix AW120 is great value and packing with useful features. It is waterproof and shockproof making it perfect for the great outdoors. It has wifi and a GPS system with compass, landmarks and maps. The Coolpix AW120 has a 16 MP sensor, a focal range of 24-120mm, and fast focusing in good light. It can also take full HD (1080/60i) video.

 

More reading on digital photography

Digital Photography Basics: A Beginner's Guide to Getting Great Digital Photos
Digital Photography Basics: A Beginner's Guide to Getting Great Digital Photos

This Kindle book is for you if you are taking your first steps in digital photography. It offers the basics in an easy to read and easy to follow way.

 

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    • savateuse profile image
      Author

      savateuse 2 years ago

      I agree. I think cropping is a simple, but powerful way of improving the final shot.

    • Diane Cass profile image

      Diane Cass 2 years ago from New York

      I always crop my photos. As much as I try to properly frame a photo in the first place, there is always room for improvement.

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 2 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      I love my Canon Power Shot. I use an old "PictureIt!" program for cropping and do it quite often.

    • Paul Ward profile image

      Paul 2 years ago from Liverpool, England

      I don't take many photographs so I tend to download to computer and crop with Irfanview - badly sometimes so thanks for the tips.

    • SusannaDuffy profile image

      Susanna Duffy 2 years ago from Melbourne Australia

      I use my iPhone for photos but every image I take, I make sure to crop

    • VineetBhandari profile image

      VineetBhandari 4 years ago

      i tend to use photoshop & paint for my photo editing

    • savateuse profile image
      Author

      savateuse 4 years ago

      @anonymous: me too, it's straightforward to use and has a lot of useful tools and filters

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      I tend to use Photoshop Elements to edit my photos.

    • hartworks lm profile image

      hartworks lm 4 years ago

      I just about always crop my photos.

    • whats4dinner profile image

      whats4dinner 4 years ago

      Great lens! Love the photos and the tips are very helpful!

    • lesliesinclair profile image

      lesliesinclair 5 years ago

      Cropping does make a difference, to edit out extraneous images. thanks.

    • TreasuresBrenda profile image

      Treasures By Brenda 5 years ago from Canada

      The ability to crop our photos is a fantastic advance in photography.

    • profile image

      poutine 5 years ago

      Thanks for this info.

    • LouisaDembul profile image

      LouisaDembul 5 years ago

      We crop all the time. I usually make a copy, in case it doesn't come out well. In that case, I still always have the original.

    • Sylvestermouse profile image

      Cynthia Sylvestermouse 5 years ago from United States

      Photo editing software certainly makes "getting the right shot" a whole lot easier :)

    • LynetteBell profile image

      LynetteBell 5 years ago from Christchurch, New Zealand

      Thanks for this good info! I've discovered using my mobile phone is better than my digital camera...usually on hand.

    • LittleLindaPinda profile image

      Little Linda Pinda 5 years ago from Florida

      I love photo editing, since I am not an artist.

    • sponias lm profile image

      sponias lm 5 years ago

      I love photography, but I'm a lazy photographer. Thank you for your work!

    • gypsyman27 lm profile image

      gypsyman27 lm 5 years ago

      Good photo tips, well done. See you around the galaxy...

    • MelonyVaughan profile image

      MelonyVaughan 5 years ago

      Great tips - thanks for sharing!

    • profile image

      DecoratingMom411 5 years ago

      Thanks for sharing! I've always loved photography and its true cropping is one of the good techniques.

    • savateuse profile image
      Author

      savateuse 5 years ago

      @anonymous: Thanks!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Great points, I think that cropping is one of the simplest forms of image editing that can make a huge difference in the impact of a photo.