underwater Photo Course :: (6) Composition :: Cropping
U/W Photo Course
Learn u/w photography the easy way!
You should ask yourself occasionally whether you
need to include the whole of your subject. Concentrating on a small part
of your subject allows you to see textures and patterns that can be very
Cropping is an extremely useful compositional device. Used intelligently,
cropping can remove unwanted detail or improve composition, in drastic cases it
can create a whole new (abstract) interpretation of a subject.
Cropping can be done later in PhotoshopThe brand leader in digtal image manipulation program produced by Adobe Software. You Hoover the floor Google the Net and Photoshop your images! When we use Photoshop we mean any such program. of course. Under pressure
and in the less than ideal conditions encountered underwater unplanned shots are
difficult to crop 'live' in the viewfinder. However, cropping in post-productiona euphemism for editing in a photo manipulation program. An excuse for sloppy work e.g. well fix it in post! wastes pixels!
Diver shots are usually cropped at the waist, head and
shoulders, or mask only. Fish shots are best cropped head only.
Some subjects, such as seascapes and far distant wrecks
require a diver in frame to give them a sense of scale. Lighting, or lack of it, can also be used to crop
subjects in the frame.
Probably the most common mistake when cropping is to give
the impression that your subject is falling out of the frame by not giving it
space to move into.
It may not have occurred to you before but the choice of frame format is a form of cropping! Which should you choose; landscape or portrait?
It depends on your subject but generally uprights work best in underwater photography. Perhaps this is due to the
relationship between the surface and the bottom being best displayed in this
format, especially with sunbursts over scenic views.
Shoot mostly uprights
Not only do our fellow divers feel happier with uprights
because it corresponds more to the blinkered view you get whilst wearing a mask,
but the man in the street (him again!) also prefers this format. It is very
interesting to note the proportion of uprights reaching the latter stages of
There is also another reason to shoot mainly portrait format - publication.
It is every underwater photographer's dream to get a front cover. To do this you need a shot that
conforms to a composition that will accommodate the magazine title and text (along the left hand side where it can be seen when stacked on a display shelf).
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