Thursday 10 April 2014

Crop Rectangles

So, you are taking nice steady pictures with your awesome bunny camera. But they still don't look as good as they could and you are starting to think it's something to do with how they are composed. Maybe you just don't have the 'artists eye' needed to spot a good picture? Or maybe you do (Hint: You do!) but you just haven't figured out how to realise it? Or maybe all you need is this week's Fursday Foto Tip! And this fifth tip is without doubt the most important tip I will give you...

Bunny Photo Tip #5

When you start out with bunny photography, don't worry about perfectly composing pictures. This is the digital age - just make sure you have everything in the picture and crop it later.

Yes that's right, this weeks tip is simple. After you've taken your lots of pictures and chucked out the ones with nothing interesting in, crop the rest to show off the interesting things.

So first of all, what is cropping? Well, quite simply, it's when you draw a rectangle somewhere in the middle of your picture, cut round it and throw the outside bit away - the aim being to leave you with a well balanced, better-looking (if a little smaller) picture! It's the most basic tool in all photo-editing software(Photoshop, Photoshop Elements, Gimp...), most photo-organising software (iPhoto, Aperture, the free ones that come with your camera...) and is even built in to most other software that allows you to insert pictures (like MS Word and Outlook).

Why do we want to crop? Well, actually, ideally we don't! And the longer you do this bunny photography thing the easier it gets to spot exactly what picture you want and where to put the camera to get it without messing around with it too much after. But that only comes through experience and occasionally a bit of luck. Of my pictures you see on this blog and Facebook, although some are cropped in some way I'd say these days about three quarters are the full picture that I took. To figure out where in the picture I wanted the bunny, how far away, with how much of the background etc, this I worked out through experience taking lots of pictures and cropping in lots of different ways until I found the ideas I liked.

Try it. There are no rules (well...), it's all down to 'art' and personal taste. Take a picture, make a copy (IMPORTANT! Don't accidentally destroy your original!!!), open it in your favourite photo editor and try cropping it in lots of different ways.

If you are not sure where to start, here are some ideas:

  • Crop so the bunny takes up all the frame with just a small gap around the edges, with the gap the same size at the top, bottom and sides
  • Crop to just the face
  • Crop to half the face, like if you added a mirror it would look like a whole face again
  • Crop to just the eyes/nose upwards so it's like bunny is looking over something
  • If the bunny has lots of space around them in the original, try cropping from each side so they are in each of the corners

Cropping a picture so that the subject is on one side or in a corner can help the picture tell a story. Take this uninteresting wide shot of Anouska and Bobbit in the garden yesterday:

It's OK, but it doesn't really speak to me. However, if I crop the picture leaving Bobbit off to one side like this:

Suddenly the picture has meaning - it looks like we have caught a moment where Bobbit has spotted something just out of shot - is he going to chase after it? Now we have drama. If we crop from the other side:

Now perhaps Bobbit is looking across the garden admiring the grass. Notice also that having him down in one corner makes him look smaller in the overall scene - you can start to see how doing this sort of thing (with the right picture) can be used to emphasise how small, cute and vulnerable bunnies are for example.

So there are all sorts of interesting things you can do, it's best to just play until you start to see what sort of things work for you with what pictures.

Lastly, as you are cropping, you may notice (depending on what software you use) that the crop box is split into smaller rectangles, three across and three down.

This is a very deliberate aid. Because the first thing you are supposed to learn about when composing shots for visual media is the rule of thirds. This is quite a simple concept, you are basically aiming to get key points in the picture on the lines or in the middle of a box. For example, in close ups, try getting the eyes on the upper horizontal line and the nose or mouth on the lower horizontal line. (This is almost certainly what I did in that picture of Jemima I used in my remembrance post last month.) Or if you have an ear sticking diagonally up and off to one side, try cropping so it sits in the middle of the top corner rectangle.

Well there you go, another simple and hopefully useful tip as well as some ideas to get you started. As always, please feel free to add your comments and questions below, otherwise I'll see you back here tomorrow for another Tiny Tale!


  1. Good tips - thanks. Sometimes you can get several good finals from the same big photo by different cropping - as you showed.

  2. great tips I shall have to remember these,xx Rachel

  3. Thank you for the helpful tips and examples of the power and uses of cropping. And for explaining what the grid was for -- knew they were good for something (tic tac toe, anyone?). Will be putting your suggestions to work over at SaveABunny.