I’m often asked about cropping, so here’s the deal: After capturing my images I seldom crop them, preferring to do so in-camera in order to extract the maximum image quality from the minimum number of pixels—especially with the smaller sensors of my Micro Four-thirds cameras— but I make an exception to this rule for some of my drag racing photographs.
One thing that you’ll notice at the track is that there are lots of people—spectators, crew, and safety staff who inevitably will walk into the frame. That’s when I crop but always try to maintain the image’s original aspect ratio. Aspect ratio is the relationship between the height and width of the image and is usually expressed by two numbers. Traditional 35mm film cameras and full frame digital SLRs use a 24x36mm (3:2) format but these day many cameras shoot in different aspect ratios, including the widescreen 16:9 HD video ratio.
The way I prefer to crop my car photographs it is to set Photoshop’s Crop tool using the proportions of the photograph using numbers shown in the Image Size (Image > Image Size) command. In Photoshop CS6 and CC you have the option to maintain the “original ratio” or pick a bunch of others, including the 16:9 that’s one of my favorite options when I do crop. Using the original ratio maintains the same look and doesn’t look cropped.
Some of my photographer/friends like to kid me about this approach (when I am nowhere near a purist in the rest my work.) The most important part of the last sentence is this is the way that I like to do it. Since this is not a “my way or the highway” blog, you should crop your photographs any way you like.
My book, “Creative Digital Monochrome Effects” is available from Amazon with new copies under $6 with used copies for less than five bucks. Either one is a heckuva deal and if you bring a copy to one of our Cars & Coffee PhotoWalks, I’ll be glad to sign your copy.